8 weight machines to try at the gym

You've mastered the treadmill and elliptical, but cardio is only half of your fitness equation. Build muscles and increase strength by introducing yourself to your gym's weights machines.

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1. Bicep curl

It's a fact: The more muscle you have, the more calories you'll burn when at rest and the easier everyday tasks like carrying laundry up the stairs and maintaining balance on a packed bus will be.

We spoke with Kelly Thorne, national director of personal training for GoodLife Fitness Clubs, and Rob Dickson, program manager at the South Health Campus of YMCA Calgary, about some of the most common weight machines at the gym. After a 10-minute cardio warm-up to get the blood flowing in your muscles, give these weight machines a try.

Targets: The front of your upper arms

Benefits: Strong biceps help with any activities that have you bending and flexing your arms – say, picking up your kids or carrying the groceries in from the car.

How to use it: Sit with your chest resting against the near side of the pad and with the back of your arms resting over the opposite side. Pull the handle toward your chin, keeping your arms parallel at all times and making sure not to lock your elbows when your arms are fully extended.

"With any machine, you want to ensure your core is activated," says Thorne. "Proper breathing is a big part of exercise, as well: breathing out on exertion and in on release."

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