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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.
Gold How to Use Cardio Machines at the Gym

Get the most out of each drop of sweat with these simple pointers from gym guru Mary Ann Browning, owner of Brownings Fitness in New York City.

Stationary bike: Set the seat so that it is at hip height when you're standing next to the bike and cycle with a tall posture "as if you're balancing a book on your head," Browning says. Aim to maintain a minimum speed of 85 revolutions per minute for a solid workout, and don't point your toes when pedaling. "It works more of the quads instead of the butt and hamstrings."

Elliptical trainer: "Pretend you're running," Browning says, using mostly leg power and grasping the handles occasionally. Warm up to a pace that feels brisk (a 5 or 6 on an intensity scale of 1 to 10), and add resistance when you're cruising along.

Stairclimber: To really work your lower body, only lightly touch or let go of the handles and press through your heels. "Stretch your quads and calves afterward," Browning says.

Treadmill: Run in the middle of the tread. "Being too close to the dashboard doesn't allow you to run in your normal gait," Browning says. Set the incline to 1 percent to replicate the feel of running outdoors.

Originally published in FITNESS magazine, February 2011.