Top 3 Plate Loaded Machines
In February, we touched on the benefits of pin loaded machines and showed you how to use a few different machines. We hope you enjoyed them!
This month, we will walk you through the other category of strength machines – plate loaded machines!
Plate loaded machines are designed to bridge the gap between pin loaded machines and free weights. In terms of set up, plate loaded equipment requires you to load the round conventional barbell plates onto the machines, to reach your desired lifting weight. For this reason, you are given exact control over your load weight. Plate loaded machines give you the option of a much heavier load weight, as their maximum capacity generally far exceeds those of pin load machines.
Let’s introduce you to our three most popular plate loaded machines which, if used in a trio, will make a great full body workout!
This is an upright version of the standard lying bench press, an upper body ‘push’ exercise, targeting your pectorals (chest), deltoids (shoulders) and triceps (arms). It also works your serratus anterior and biceps. This is one of the best chest exercises for building upper body strength. By performing this on the machine, you will isolate your inner pectorals and reduce the likelihood of potential injury.
The seat is adjustable and should be set to a height where your arms are parallel to the ground, when fully extended. The seat height is typically set so that the handles are just in front of your chest. Both feet are firmly placed on the floor, shoulder width apart. Gripping onto the handles with your thumbs circled around, ensure your wrists are in neutral position, which is in line with your forearm. Your arms will push out along the horizontal plane, but not lock at full extension, breathing out as you push away. Breathe in, as you return to the starting position. Use smooth, controlled movement and avoid bringing your elbows too far back, which will overextend your shoulders. Squeezing the grip will also encourage you to maintain muscle engagement, throughout the movement.
Seated Back Row
This is an upper body ‘pull’ exercise, targeting your latissimus dorsi (back). This is an upright version of the standard bent over row and one of the best back exercises. The seated back row also works your deltoids, trapezius and biceps.
The seat is adjustable and should be set to a height where the handles reach your chest when fully flexed. Both feet are firmly placed on the floor, shoulder width apart. Gripping onto the handles with your thumbs circled around, ensure your wrists are in neutral position, pull the handles back along the horizontal plane; while trying to not use the momentum of the row by moving your torso back with the arms. Keep your abdominals pressed against the bench, sitting upright and squeezing your shoulder blades together as you row (tip – chest out!). Use smooth, controlled movement to return the handle forward under tension, keeping your back straight at all times.
Incline Leg Press
This is a lower body ‘push’ exercise, targeting your rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, vastus intermedius (quads!), also using your gluteus maximus, adductor magnus and soleus – so many muscles here!
To get started, sit in the low seat with your back and head pressed firmly against the back support and your feet hip width apart, on the upper platform. Brace your core and push your feet and the plate away from your body, with a breath out, releasing the safety bars by twisting them outward. Fully extend your legs without locking your knees. Breathe in as you lower the platform as far as you can. Sometimes this may feel a little squeezed in at the bottom, but the more range of motion you get here, the more effective the exercise. Remember that both your heels and forefoot should always remain flat on the platform. Pay attention to your knees when performing this leg press and do not allow them to draw in together, at any point!
Plate-loaded machines do require a little more effort to set up, considering the necessity to manually load your weight, however, this shouldn’t worry you as you are here for a good work out right!? And always, remember your gym etiquette 101 and remove those plates off the machine as part of your cool down.