Workout Machines 101 to Target Back and Biceps

Justin Timberlake once famously sang “I’m bringing sexy back” and this couldn’t be truer or more false depending on how hard we train our back muscles into the perfect shape.

In training back muscles, we also train the arm muscles in the process. The first two exercises described are those that will target your biceps and the rest will be for your back. Listed are some basic workout machines that’ll help you get started, because here in we have your (sexy) back!

Cable Machine Curls

Preacher Curl Machine

Cable exercises also allow for a more stable, fluid and controlled movement which is great for some people who are scared to use free weights due to possible injuries from handling or dropping the weights. This exercise forces you to engage additional muscles for balance and stability since you are performing the exercise while standing and pulling on the cable which makes your legs work a little harder to support the tension. Standing cable curls targets the biceps which are the primary muscle group engaged along with the forearms which are the secondary muscle group involved with this movement.


  1. Adjust the seat to the appropriate height and make your weight selection. Place your upper arms against the pads and grasp the handles. This will be your starting position.
  2. Perform the movement by flexing the elbow, pulling your lower arm towards your upper arm.
  3. Pause at the top of the movement, and then slowly return the weight to the starting position.
  4. Avoid returning the weight all the way to the stops until the set is complete to keep tension on the muscles being worked.

Preacher Curl Machine

preacher curl machine

There’s a reason why biceps are called “guns” and that’s because well-defined arms look like menacing weapons and the Preacher Curl Machine helps you train your biceps brachii (2 heads of the biceps), brachialis (located beneath the biceps muscle on the outside of the arm) and the brachioradialis (forearms). This exercise is also excellent for improving strength in your wrists and overall grip. The best reason why you should not forget to do the machine preacher curls is that this exercise totally isolates the muscles at the front of the upper arms. And because your arms are resting on a machine, shoulder flexion is removed from the lift. The movement is therefore totally concentrated on the muscles you want to develop.


  1. Sit down on the Preacher Curl Machine and select the weight.
  2. Place the back of your upper arms (triceps) on the preacher pad provided and grab the handles using an underhand grip (palms facing up).
Tip: Make sure that when you place the arms on the pad you keep the elbows in. This will be your starting position.
  1. Now lift the handles as you exhale and you contract the biceps. At the top of the position make sure that you hold the contraction for a second.
Tip: Only the forearms should move. The upper arms should remain stationary and on the pad at all times.
  1. Lower the handles slowly back to the starting position as you inhale.
  2. Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.

Pull Down Machine (Lat Pulldown)

Lat Pulldown

The pull down exercises is similar with pull up exercises but uses external weights instead of our body weight. This is good for beginners because the weights can be adjusted more or less than our body weight. The cable pull down machine is designed to train the lats specifically, but secondarily also trains the shoulders and arms.


  1. Start off sitting a cable pull down machine that has a wide bar attachment and grab it with a wide overhand grip.
 Tip: Keep your chest tall and keep your elbows pointed straight down.
  1. Keeping your abs drawn in, back straight and pull down on the bar to your upper chest.
Tip: You can lower the bar to your chin or just below.
  1. Hold for a count at the bottom position, squeeze your lats and then slowly return back to the starting position.
Tip: Try using the ‘V-grip’ handle for a different variation.

Assisted Pull Up Machine

Assisted  Pull Up Machine

Wide grip pull-ups is an integral part of a complete back workout routine because of the development that it provides for increasing muscular strength, stability, endurance and flexibility. The assisted pull up machine will work all of the “pull” muscles in your body which are your back, biceps and forearms. They are indicative of your level of fitness and anybody that can do a pull up is in pretty good shape and anybody that can do 10 or more is clearly in really great shape.


  1. Use an assisted pull-up machine or securely attach a heavy-duty band to a pull-up station, securing it around just one knee. The tension should be enough to pull that lower leg up. Grasp the bar with an overhand grip just outside shoulder width and hang at full arm extension. This is your start position.
  2. Keeping your body straight, contract your lats to pull yourself up as high as you can, driving your elbows down.
  3. Slowly release to full arm extension. Repeat for the required number of reps and safely dismount from the apparatus.

Seated Rows with a Rowing Machine

Seated Row with a Rowing Machine

Rowing machines help in rowing exercises that train the muscles to extend and support the legs (quadriceps and thigh muscles). In all cases, the abdominal and lower back muscles must be used in order to support the body and prevent back injury. The seated cable row is an isolated exercise that targets the middle and upper back muscles. The movements trains the shoulder muscle balance and corrects posture.


  1. For this exercise you will need access to a low pulley row machine with a V-bar. Note:The V-bar will enable you to have a neutral grip where the palms of your hands face each other. To get into the starting position, first sit down on the machine and place your feet on the front platform or crossbar provided making sure that your knees are slightly bent and not locked.
  2. Lean over as you keep the natural alignment of your back and grab the V-bar handles.
  3. With your arms extended pull back until your torso is at a 90-degree angle from your legs. Your back should be slightly arched and your chest should be sticking out. You should be feeling a nice stretch on your lats as you hold the bar in front of you. This is the starting position of the exercise.
  4. Keeping the torso stationary, pull the handles back towards your torso while keeping the arms close to it until you touch the abdominals. Breathe out as you perform that movement. At that point you should be squeezing your back muscles hard. Hold that contraction for a second and slowly go back to the original position while breathing in.
  5. Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.

After following these steps and tips, you will be on your way to becoming more comfortable using these machines at your gym. Once you are confident, the results will follow!

Let us know if there are any other machines you would like to know more about. Feel free to comment below and we will feature it on the next article!


Written by Proudly Filipino

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