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Make the Most of the Weight Machines at Your Gym

This simple what-to-hit, what-to-skip weight routine takes the guesswork out of getting a sexy, sculpted physique at the gym. Consider this your guide to the best machines in the weight room.
Lisa Kappel How to Choose the Right Weight for You

If you have nothing to show for your sets, chances are you're picking wimpy weights. The optimal weight setting is a percentage of your one-repetition maximum -- the most you can lift just once on each machine. (Quickie gauge: Try to bench press 60 to 80 percent of your body weight for one rep and leg press one and a half times to two times your body weight for one rep.) Doing 12 reps using at least 50 percent of your one-rep max -- the classic higher-reps-lighter-weight formula -- will help you get more muscle endurance and a leaner look, Porcari says. But whether it's six or 15 reps (the ends of the range most experts suggest), if the last two are strenuous, "you're going to get lean," Esco says. "So don't be afraid to add weight." Newbie lifters should use a weight that is 60 to 70 percent of their max and do sets of 10 to 15 reps; gym pros can go 70 to 80 percent. Get pumped!