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What Muscles Do Exercise Machines Work?

Exercise machines are designed to target specific muscle areas, and many are sold for circuit training involving localized workouts done over the course of a week. While some machines overlap muscle groups, most isolate one specific grouping.


Treadmills use a belt under the feet for running or walking. Most machines are powered by electricity and provide an adjustable bed to increase the difficulty of the exercise and burn additional calories. Consumer Reports magazine surveyed basic models in 2010 and reported that any of them were adequate for basic walking exercise. The magazine recommended higher-cost models for runners due to the extended length of the bed that accommodates the longer strides made in running. Treadmills work the calf, hamstring and gluteus muscles.Treadmills used on an incline work your quadriceps.


Elliptical machines use pedals to travel an elliptical path. Most machines combine resistance controls and a feature to adjust both stride length and the degree of the incline. Ellipticals work the hamstrings, the quadriceps, and the muscles in the buttocks. The machines also strengthen the calves, upper and lower legs, and the back and abdominal muscles. Elliptical machines incorporate movement of the upper body that works the muscles in the arms, including the triceps, biceps and those of the shoulders and chest.

Weight Machines

Use of weight training machines, when done correctly, exercises the muscles in the abdominals, check, shoulders, arms, legs and back. Use weight machines to train different muscle groups, alternating between the groups over two or three days. This program allows muscles to rest and recover. Enlist the aid of a gym expert to train you on the correct and safe use of the machines.

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About the Author

David B. Ryan has been a professional writer since 1989. His work includes various books, articles for "The Plain Dealer" in Cleveland and essays for Oxford University Press. Ryan holds degrees from the University of Cincinnati and Indiana University and certifications in emergency management and health disaster response.

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