Building Muscle Using A Weight Machine

One of the great benefits of going to a gym is complete access to a wide range of weight machines. These are perfect for strength training and are especially good for beginners.

However, it can often be tricky to know which machines to use. If you are someone who doesn’t frequent the weighted side of the gym too often, a lot of the machines can seem intimidating or “too difficult” to use.

The good thing is, this is a myth! The machines have a full range of weights so you can adjust them to your abilities. Also, they have instructions on the side, including QR codes for full explanations. If you’re still unsure how to use them, ask a Beckwith trainer or book a session with one of our fantastic PTs for a personalized demonstration.

Let’s take a look at 4 machines that are perfect for helping you to build upper body strength.

The Lateral Pull-Down Machine 

Lat pull downs are an exercise which target your lats, the large muscles along the side of your back. The stronger these are, the more they can support your upper body muscle growth. For example, strong lats are essential to be able to do a pull-up.

Start off with this machine at a weight which is challenging but which allows you to maintain proper form, and do 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps. Incorporate these into your weekly workouts and gradually increase the weight to build up your lats over time.

Good form is key on the lat pull-down machine. Here’s how to get it right, according to Stylist.

  • Adjust the pin to select the weight that suits you.
  • Sit on the seat and adjust the knee pad so that your quads are gently tucked in.
  • Reach up to grab the bar and place your hands wide with an overhand grip.
  • Roll your shoulders back and down as you pull the bar down to your chin.
  • Slowly extend your arms back to the starting point – don’t let it fly back.

The Chest Press Machine 

Using the chest press machine is a great way to maintain a proper form while attempting this exercise.

Chest presses target multiple muscles, including pectorals, deltoids, and triceps, which will help to build substantial muscle mass over time. It is also a great machine for your biceps, so really targets your upper body in full.

Another great thing about chest presses is that this is a movement that is often used in day to day life. For example, when pushing something heavy, such as a heavy door or a shopping trolley. So the stronger these muscles are, the less likely you are to injure yourself and the easier your daily activities will be.

Like all other gym machines, the weights are adjustable, so choose what works best for you. If this is not an exercise you have attempted before, start light and work your way to heavier weights over time to avoid straining or injuring yourself.

Here’s how to nail the chest press machine form, according to Genesis Fitness.

  • Pull your shoulder blades back and together, to create a stable base to press from.
  • Control the weight down, getting a stretch at the bottom.
  • Breath out as you press the weights out.
  • It’s best to use a moderate to heavy weight for 8 to 16 reps.

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The Shoulder Press Machine

As the name suggests, the shoulder press machine will work your shoulders. This is a really important area to focus on due to its functional applications.

Similar to the chest press, we use our shoulders to lift heavy weights regularly in our everyday lives. Especially as we get older, keeping our shoulders and backs strong will help our posture and avoiding injury.

This machine is another great one for gym beginners and intermediates, as it assists you in performing a shoulder press without the risk of bad form that can come with using dumbbells instead.

Here is our to use this machine, according to

  • Adjust the seat to the right height and then sit down.
  • Grab the handles and then push them up straight in the air.
  • Bring your hands back down to about eye level, don’t need to go all the way back down.
  • Complete 3 sets of 8-10 reps, and adjust the weight as needed.

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The Cable Machine 

Despite its vague name, the cable machine is a great one to conquer in the gym. Once you have this set, it’s going to amp up your upper body workouts like no other!

The cable machine is a functional piece of equipment that uses adjustable cable pulleys. Using their resistance, you can do several different exercises with this machine. It’s also a great change from dumbbells and kettlebells, which can also help you to break through a weight lifting wall.

This is a great one for targeting your tricep muscles. It can be easier to use the cable machine for these exercises, rather than dumbbells, if you’re unsure of your dumbbell form.

Here’s how to do a tricep pull-down on a cable machine, according to Coach Mag.

  • Set the cable machine up with the bar at head height.

  • Grab the bar and stand upright with your back straight and your elbows tucked in to your sides. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, or place one in front of the other if it helps you balance.

  • Pull the cable down until the bar touches your thighs and pause to squeeze your triceps at the bottom of the move.
  • Then slowly raise the bar back to the starting position.
  • Make sure you don’t lean forwards to aid the press and don’t let your elbows leave your sides, otherwise you’ll lose some of the focus on the triceps.

If you’re still unsure of your form, check out this instructional video on YouTube.

Tip: Ask for Help from our Team!

If you’re unsure about any exercise in the gym, the best thing you can do is ask for help!

Beckwith Health Club’s team members are experienced trainers and will be more than happy to offer tips and form advice. Alternatively, if you would prefer to book a one on one training session, check out their PT profiles here.