By Jenny Everett, SELF magazine
It's easy to get into a rut at the gym; sticking to the machines you are most comfortable with and avoiding those that, for whatever reason, freak you out. They just look so complicated and difficult and you rarely see other women using them, so why should you?
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Thing is, some of the machines you're most afraid of are actually the most effective ones in the gym. We asked exercise physiologist Amy Dixon, group fitness manager for Equinox in Santa Monica, Calif., and star of the new "Super Fit Bod" workout DVD, which of these mystery machines hold the most power to transform your body. Without hesitation, these were her picks:
The VersaClimber: Most gyms have at least one versa climber. It's that tall skinny machine with stair climber-esque pedals and handles, and it makes you look like a mountain climber on a crazy vertical ascent. It's low impact (so no worries if you're injury prone!) and works the upper and lower body simultaneously through a large range of motion. So you're getting a better workout in less time. Fifteen to 20 minutes is all it takes. We'll be impressed if you last that long!
Tip: To sneak in fat-frying cardio on a strength training day, do 60-second intervals on the Versa Climber during your rest periods.
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The Cable Tower: With weight stacks, multiple cables and several different handle attachments, you can pretty much work every major muscle in your body. So much more convenient than bouncing from machine to machine or searching the dumbbell rack for the missing 8-pounder. And because you're not lying on a bench or sitting in a seat, you can move your body through its full range of motion -- which equals more muscle-toning goodness.
Do it: Bicep curls Simply clip the curvy-looking bar to the lowest cable. Stand about a foot from the machine and hold the bar, palms up, with elbows bent and tight to your sides. Curl the bar toward your shoulders. Slowly lower, then repeat.
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"These machines look super scary, but they are SO effective. The VersaClimber is seriously the hardest thing I've ever done, a bit intimidating but truly worth it," says Dixon. "The cable pulley machine is intimidating because of all of the attachments and lines to pull. My suggestion is to get with a trainer for a few sessions for some great suggestions on that machine, and then the sky is the limit as to what you can use it for."
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Photo Credit: versaclimber.com