If you’re a newcomer to a gym, it’s very easy for experienced keep-fit enthusiasts and regular gym members to hold court on the benefits of using free weights for toning and muscle building. However, gym machines are there for a reason and many beginners and, in fact, regulars find that they get just as much benefit from using these as from a free weights routine.
In this article we’ll explain the Chest Press machine, how to use it and the muscle groups it exercises. The picture below is a fairly generic Chest Press machine but there are variations, all of which are broadly similar. The following guide applies to most common machines.
Obviously this machine exercises the chest, as a normal, horizontal bench press would. Similarly to that free weights exercise, it also works the shoulders and triceps to a lesser extent. The benefits of a machine rather than the free weights alternative are firstly safety – there’s no danger of dropping weights on yourself, secondly it forces your technique to be perfect and the weights are easily adjustable from the sitting position.
The fist thing to do when approaching this exercise is to get your positioning right; the machine will be adjustable in at least one direction and sometimes several. Adjust the seat so that your grip is at chest height; if the back rest is adjustable, move it so that in the starting position you are taking the weight (so you don’t ‘klonk’ the weights when ‘lowering them’).
Now, after setting a realistic weight for 8 – 12 reps, slowly push the weights away from your chest, breathing out as you do, until your arms are almost straight. Pause for a second then bring the weights back slowly towards you, inhaling as you do. Try and focus your efforts from your chest, rather than your arms and shoulders for maximum benefit.
Perform 3 sets, of 8 – 12 reps each.