Look around in the weight room at your gym, and it might seem like you're just staring at a junkyard scattered with random metal items and sweaty bodies. Everything about the machines can look intimidating, all the way down to the people using them. But once you walk through exactly how you're supposed to work out in this kind of setting, the props aren't so scary at all.
While some trainers prefer the versatility of free weights for strength-training, machines can actually be beneficial for beginners. Because they are more limited, they help you focus on your form in a safe, controlled setting, says Nicholas Routson, an ACE-certified personal trainer and fitness manager at 24-Hour Fitness in Yorba Linda, CA.
But say you're at the gym staring down a machine you've never come face-to-face with before: Consider flagging down someone more experienced for a quick how-to. "You’ll find that there are plenty of gym members and fitness professionals in a gym environment who are willing to help and encourage you as a newcomer so that you can enjoy the amazing experience of fitness," Routson says. And, as an added tip for the introverts out there, most machines come with an illustration of the muscles they're meant to target, and how they are supposed to be used.
Ahead, certified personal trainers explain the benefits — and uses — of a few popular machines, and we found YouTube tutorials t0 demonstrate each exercise. After this, you'll be a lost newbie no more.