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Beginner Basics: A 30-Minute Gym Machine Workout Routine

Woman running on a treadmill
A gym machine workout routine can target every muscle group and only takes 30 minutes to complete.

by Autumn Jones

Looking for a solid, go-to workout routine? Machines at the gym offer a ton of great options! And they can help you strengthen all of your major muscle groups in just 30 minutes! The versatility of fitness machines will also allow you to start at the right level for you and build over time. For those who are new to working out, machines help make sure you are using proper form and targeting the right muscles.

When using machines, remember to start slow. This goes for speed and intensity on cardio machines as well as resistance on weight-based machines. As you become comfortable with your gym machine workout, you can increase all of these elements to challenge your body.

Here's a great full-body routine that uses six common machines in the gym. Before beginning your routine, be sure to complete a set of dynamic warm-up stretches.


Time on: 10 minutes

If you're not used to using a treadmill, don't worry! You can attach the emergency stop clip to your shirt, which senses if you lose balance during your workout and immediately stops the treadmill.

Once you feel steady, get the treadmill moving and adjust the speed and incline buttons gradually to find the settings that work best for you.

Lat Pulldown Machine

Time on: two sets of 12 reps (about three minutes). Rest for 10 seconds between sets.

Target your upper body by putting in reps on the lat pulldown machine. To get started, make sure your knees are secure under the seat pads and grab onto the bar.

Form is super important when using the lat pulldown machine, so keep it slow and steady as you pull the bar down to your chest and then return your arms to their starting position over your head. When doing lat pulldowns, keep these four form tips in mind: good posture, chest out, back straight, neutral spine.

Leg Press Machine

Time on: two sets of 12 reps (about three minutes). Rest for 10 seconds between sets.

Your gym machine workout wouldn't be complete without giving some attention to one of the largest muscles groups in the body: the legs.

Before you start on the leg press, make sure you've adjusted the seat to a comfortable position by using the lever. Sit down and place your feet shoulder-width apart on the press, slide the seat until your knees are positioned at slightly less than a 90-degree angle so you don't clank the weight stack at the bottom of the movement, and choose the weight that's right for you.

Now that you're ready to start pressing, shift your focus to your form. While you push from your heels, use controlled movements to press yourself away from the machine until your legs are straight (don't lock your knees), then return gently to the starting position.

Stair Climber

Time on: five minutes

The stair climber targets the muscles in your lower body while keeping your heart rate up. Push the green "Go" button to start the machine. Use the plus and minus buttons to increase and decrease your speed until you find the rate that works best for you.

Chest Press

Time on: two sets of 12 reps (about three minutes). Rest for 10 seconds between sets.

To use this machine, adjust the seat to a height that feels comfortable, then set the weight to your desired amount of resistance. Once you have this basic set-up complete, you're ready to start your reps on the chest press machine.

Sit so your is back straight against the back of the seat and grab onto the handles. Using control, extend your arms out fully until they are straight (don't lock your elbows), then slowly return to the starting position. Yep, it's really that simple!

Ab Machine

Time on: two sets of 12 reps (about three minutes). Rest for 10 seconds between sets.

Strengthen your core with a few rounds of crunches on the ab machine. First, sit down and adjust the seat height as needed, then choose the amount of weight you'd like to start with. Next, grip the handles and rest your elbows on the pads. As you exercise your core, your elbows will naturally want to move down toward your legs. Hold this contracted position for a breath and then return to the starting position.

After you've finished your workout, cool down with some static stretching to round out all of your hard work! As always, please consult with a physician prior to beginning any exercise program. See full medical disclaimer here.