What are Different Types of Weight Training Machines?

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  • Written By: Jessica Ellis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 12 December 2019
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People familiar with modern gyms will no doubt have a passing recognition of weight training machines. Complicated-seeming pulley systems and confusing directions can often lead exercisers to shun weight training machines out of self-consciousness. Understanding the basic types of weight training machines can help conquer fears of looking silly, allowing dedicated gym-goers to create comprehensive strength training routines that work the whole body.

Arm machines come in all shapes and sizes, dedicated to toning and increasing muscle mass in the biceps, triceps, shoulders, and even the forearms. Most have adjustable weight stacks that allow users to increase and decrease weight load for maximum efficiency. For those who hate pull-ups, consider substituting with the lateral pull-down machine. Users sit on a bench and grasp a long bar overhead, leaning back slightly and pulling it to chest level. Or, reduce the potential for hyperextension of the elbows by using a bicep machine where the upper arms rest on a triangular pad so that only the correct muscles are used in the movement.


Trunk or core machines work the chest, back, and abdominal muscles, and may be combined with arm or leg machines. Abdominal frames or benches consist of a padded bench with a metal frame at the top, which the user grasps and uses to perform sit-ups. A pectoral machine works the muscles in the chest and arms, requiring a user to sit in a chair and grasp handles at chest level, pushing them into toward the center of the body.

Weight training machines for the legs come in all shapes and sizes and focus on the calves, hamstrings, quadriceps, and gluteus muscles. Since the legs are generally the strongest part of the body, the weight stack for these weight training machines is usually much higher. A leg-press machine focuses on the muscles in the thighs by making the user lie at an angle with legs bent and feet against a heavy plate, then push off to a straight leg position. Adductors tone the inner thighs by having the user sit on a padded chair with his or her legs apart and bring the legs together by pushing knees against padded rests.

Some weight training machines combine multiple exercises, or allow components to be switched out or adjusted to work different muscle groups. The staple of many home exercise rooms, multi-gyms generally have places to do both arm and leg training, as well as combine moves for total-body work. Common features of multi-use weight training machines include an overhead pulley for arm and back work, a bench or padded chair with attachments for leg moves, and a pull-up bar.



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