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Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Best Friends You Need to Have in Voice Over

If you’re a surgeon, your best friends are probably your anesthesiologist and your nurses.  If you’re a teacher, your best pals are most likely other teachers, and if you’re lucky, your school principal. But who are a voice actor’s best friends? Who is there to help an actor when advice is needed, or you’re totally out of your league with something and need a bit of help?

Another actor - Sometimes, the best friend you can have is one who is a peer. Someone who’s on the same path as you, and who’s having similar experiences. Not only is another actor a great sounding board for bouncing ideas or venting frustrations, they can also provide great advice based on their own personal experiences.

Creative team - The creative director is often the one who will end up deciding your fate when it comes to landing gigs. Getting in good with the creative team (or at least with someone who understands what these guys are looking for) can help you develop a better understanding of what clients want. This will also help you learn more about yourself as a professional, so you can develop your strengths and improve your weaknesses.

Marketing guru - You have to be able to sell yourself in this industry, otherwise you’ll just be that actor who sits by a silent phone waiting for it to ring. It’s always a good idea to have a strong marketer on your side; someone who understands the value of a strong pitch and the intricacies of developing a solid social media presence.

Tech person - Some of us are gifted with great voices, and some of us are gifted with incredible IT skills. You’ll definitely want to have the latter on your side, if you plan on succeeding with the former. Computers, speakers, recording equipment, software, websites, social media - you name it, it’s a technology that you’ll encounter in your VO career, and you need someone who understands it if you don’t.

Agent - More and more voice talent are moving away from agents, but that doesn’t mean they don’t still provide a valuable service. If you’ve got on, you already know this, and you know that making your agent Amigo Numero Uno is key to success. They hook you up with auditions and act as the go-between for you and clients, and so much more. If you’ve got an agent, you’ll be much better off if you make them your best pal pronto. 

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Voice Over Mistakes to Avoid - Part 2

I recently posted Part 1 of a “Mistakes to Avoid” blog - now it’s time for the second act. In the first part, I discussed more of the business end of things, but now I’d like to talk about the actual recordings that you’ll be doing as a voice over actor. Or rather, what NOT to do in those recordings you’ll.

1.    Pitch problems. The most important thing with pitch is to keep it steady, and within the requested or established range. Don’t “up-talk” or raise pitch at the end of sentences, and be sure to use your pitch to your advantage so you don’t sound monotone. Use pitch, and not volume, to emphasize words or phrases. But be careful not to sound "sing-songy".
2.    Tonal mistakes. Match the words in the script to your tone; I repeat, match the words in the script to your tone. This is easily one of the biggest mistakes actors make, so be sure that your emotion is the one that’s best for the words you’re reading. Also, think about who will be listening - is your tone the best for appealing to that audience?
3.    Tempo is all wrong. Not developing the right sense of timing for readings can be a deal-breaker for many clients. If your tempo is out of whack because you’re rushing your recordings or pausing in all the wrong places, the end result will be a sub-quality product.
4.    Pronunciation mishaps. Where pronunciation is concerned, it’s important that you tailor it to your audience. For instance, for readings such as tutorials or educational videos, the focus needs to be on clarity and accuracy, while more informal recordings should be read colloquially.
5.    Volume issues. The biggest help in preventing volume-related mistakes is developing a benchmark for yourself that tells you exactly how loud you’ll sound behind the mic. Another factor is in maintaining consistent volume; even though it may be tempting to increase your volume to emphasize certain words, don’t do it. Instead, use pitch and tempo to add emphasis. And, of course, if you're recording yourself check your levels for peaks and make adjustments accordingly.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Voice Over Mistakes to Avoid - Part 1

All of us voice over actors have been there before, where we said or did something that had us asking ourselves, “Why on Earth did you say/do that!?” And while those foot-in-mouth moments are certainly cringe worthy, they’re not the end of the world. Still, you’ll want to avoid them wherever possible, and the best way to do that is to be prepared. In this two-part series, I’ll share some of the top mistakes that VO artists make, and what you can do to avoid them.

1.    Poor business etiquette. In this industry, it’s all about who you know and how you treat them. The most successful voice actors are the ones who practice good etiquette when it comes to dealing with clients. This includes being responsive, representing themselves honestly, being able to answer questions about themselves and their business (i.e., experience, rates, etc.), and practicing good manners in general.
2.    Not following directions. Both before, during and after recordings, it says a lot about a talent when they’re able to follow directions correctly. Coming prepared with whatever is asked of you, following audition guidelines, performing background research when asked, and taking direction/feedback/critique and properly applying are just a few of the ways an actor can make or break themselves in a client’s eyes. Be careful with your emails that you communicate effectively and not succumb to all the hip, common email jargon out there. At least, not at first. Take your cues from how he/she relate to you and follow suite when replying. 
3.    Not taking their career seriously. Many people get into VO as sort of a “back-up” career, or something on the side to earn extra money. And while this isn’t a bad thing, you can’t treat it as your back-up career, and you certainly don’t want your clients to see it that way. If you do that, you’re not giving it 100%, and your clients won’t take you seriously. Even for folks who are 110% invested in voice over, it’s vital that your clientele knows this. Take pride in what you do, and remember that sometimes, it’s the little things that people notice. Check for typos, call when you say you will, and most importantly, act like a professional!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Self-perception vs. Others’ Perceptions

Take a moment to think of 3 adjectives that you would use to describe yourself as a professional. Got them? Good, now think of 3 words that you think others (colleagues, agents, past clients, etc.) would use to describe you - and be honest. Do your adjectives all match? If they don’t, there may be a bit of a disparity in your self-perception versus how others view you.

Consider this example: a friend of mine, who’s also a voice actor, recently told me about a past client of his that had reached out to him for some repeat work. At the end of the project, the client told him that he was so happy for the opportunity to work together again, as he had been very pleased with my friend’s performance the first time. The client then mentioned that he had initially hesitated to contact my friend because he thought he couldn’t afford him. This surprised my friend at bit, as he had always considered himself to be well within the range of affordability. It also made him realize that at some point, he must have done something to give that client the impression that he was too expensive.

This story is a perfect example of the difference that can happen between self-perception and that of others. My friend thought he was affordable; the client thought otherwise and was reluctant to call him for work. While it worked out in the end for my friend, what if that client had decided not to call? How many potential jobs would that have cost my friend, or worse, how many other clients have labeled him as too expensive?

This illustrates just how important it is for your view yourself to match (or at least get as close to matching as possible) that of your clients. If you see yourself as one way, you need to work to make sure that others perceive you in the same light. If you don’t, that disparity could end up costing you. 

It never hurts to inquire either. Simply by asking your client a broad question like, "What is it that you're looking for in a VO talent for your projects?" See how soon the subject of cost come up.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Twitter Tips for Voice Over Actors

Having a variety of social media platforms in your marketing arsenal is definitely a good thing - it’s more opportunities for outreach. However, the real trick is knowing how to use each of them effectively, as there are key differences in how each is used. For instance, the content you post on Facebook isn’t going to always be the same as what you put on Twitter. If you’ve got a Twitter account, here are 7 tweeting tips for maximizing your outreach.

1.    Tweet often. If you want your followers to continue following you - and add new followers while you’re at it - you need to keep your account active. Plan on daily or near-daily Twitter posts to keep your name in the minds of your followers.
2.    Make your posts count. While you should post often, it will get tiresome for people if what you’re posting isn’t fresh and relevant. Make each tweet count by posting things that YOU would want to read if other people were posting them. Avoid the mundane, mindless posts that are obvious attempts to tweet just for the sake of tweeting.
3.    Easy with the hashtags. Including hashtags is just part of being in the Twitterverse, but there’s no need to hashtag everything you can think of. Limit yourself to three or less, and make them worthwhile.
4.    Build a rapport with your followers. Interact with your followers so you can build a rapport; not only is it good manners to respond to people, it will also make people care more about you and what you’re about.
5.    Don’t limit yourself to VO talk. Obviously, much of what you tweet will be related to voice over, and that’s how it should be. However, don’t make it 100% geared toward VO. You’re a multi-faceted person, and your social media should reflect that. You'll find many other people may have the same outside interests as you do.
6.    Post original content. Make sure that your account contains plenty of original posts that define you and your brand. Originality will help your followers get to know you.
7.    Re-tweet. Sharing content is also important; if you see something you like, re-tweet it. Not only does it help you develop more connections with others, it makes your account well-rounded. 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Tips for Choosing the Right VO Workshop

Any voice over actor worth their salt knows that one of the keys to success is in continuing education and professional development. For many actors, this means enrolling in classes or workshops where they can learn new techniques and hone their skills. If you’re ready to enroll but are struggling to find the course that’s right for you, consider the following tips:

1.    Pick the right instructor. VO workshop instructors fall into one of two categories: they either know what they’re talking about or they don’t. All too often, actors with less-than-successful careers decide to teach to help make ends meet by heading up workshops or other classes. While it’s great that they’re trying to diversify, it’s not always so great for the actors who enroll in the class, who think they’re being taught by an expert in the field. When looking for an instructor, check their credentials and experience so you know who you’re working with. If you can, get referrals from colleagues or others in the industry who you trust. Just be aware of the unqualified people out there who may continually advertise all over the internet their workshops but have little to offer as instructors. Spend your money wisely... do your research first!
2.    Make sure there’s a focus on acting. Voice over work is more acting than reading, so go for a class that emphasizes this. When you’re in the class, there should be ample opportunity for you to be “in character” so you can sharpen your acting skills. Check with the instructor ahead of time to make sure this element is in place.
3.    Find out what the class size is. Class sizes of about 10 to 15 people are usually the best. Any less than this and you’re denying yourself the opportunity to learn from a variety of people with different backgrounds and experiences, and any more than this means that you’ll probably have less time behind the mic.
4.    Ask how much time you’ll get to practice. A good workshop will allot plenty of time for each student to perform in front of the class. This allows you the opportunity to practice, as well as receive feedback from the instructor and other students. If there’s not a lot of mic time, then you’re not getting your money’s worth for the course. 

Friday, December 18, 2015

Friday Fitness Tip #6: From a 32 Year Fitness Novice

Gym Etiquette. Twelve Things To Practice

If you’ve never really been in a public fitness gym before you may feel a little lost at first until you adjust to a routine and begin to socialize a bit among members. Most gyms are very social places since everyone is there for the same reason. Some more hardcore than others but most members are friendly and helpful. There are certain gyms such as World Gym that do have a reputation for bodybuilders and heavy weight lifters but you’ll be aware of these gyms when you visit for the first time. If not sooner. And chances are good you won’t want to enter into an agreement with that particular gym unless your goals are exceptional and not the average person whom I’m addressing in this blog series.

As you begin your starting weeks you may want to keep a few things in mind regarding etiquette and proper conduct. These tips could save you some embarrassment or discomfort. Some of these tips are rules posted within the gym, some are just common politenesses I’ve observed and some are just common sense “pet peeves” I’ve developed over the years. So forgive me if I get a little “preachy” at times.
  1. Wear workout clothes. Meaning no bluejeans, or jean cutoffs, flip-flops, suite pants or what you might say are “street “ clothes. Wear solid sneakers, socks, tank tops, workout shorts or long pants… look around the gym and see what other members are wearing. You can be stylish or not!
  2. Bring a small T-towel with you to wipe off your perspiration. When you’re through with each machine wipe it off before moving on. Most gyms provide some type of wet wipes or spray bottles to wipe off the equipment with. This is not only courteous to other members but it helps deter the spread of bacterial infections.
  3. Don’t linger on the weight machines. Once your’e through… move on! Don’t sit there playing with your cell phone, reading a book or anything else. And don’t use the excuse of… “I’m between sets”… to linger on a machine. Others are waiting so be kind and move your behind!
  4. If you’re wearing headphones/earbuds DON”T tune out life around you. I see people using that as an excuse to avoid courtesies to other members. What’s up with that? We all understand you may want to keep to yourself but respect your fellow members as well.
  5. If you are using free weights or other portable exercise equipment DON”T leave it laying on the floor. There are always racks in the gym for these things. Return them to their places when you’re through with them.
  6. Refrain from loud grunts and groans. It’s just annoying to other members. Breathing normally inhaling and exhaling will achieve more beneficial technique.
  7. DO NOT SLAM free weights or the weight plates on the machines. This is also very annoying. Also, I have seen an entire stack of weight plates broken in half when slammed together to the floor because of some muscle head that dropped them. Remember, they are made of highly tempered steel and are brittle enough to break and expensive to replace. 
  8. Don’t get impatient about waiting to use a machine. In fact, DON”T wait! Do something else! It never hurts to do your routine out of sequence. In fact, it’s beneficial to your body to shock it a bit. 
  9. Practice clean hygiene! Before you leave the restroom WASH you hands thoroughly. It’s rather disgusting to me to be in the mens locker room and see a guy leave a urinal or a stall (often with a cell phone stuck to his ear) and then WALK RIGHT OUT of the locker room without washing his hands! And he’s going to touch all the machines I’m working on! I’m NOT kidding… I see this all the time and it makes me want to puke! 
  10. While on the subject, treat that locker room like you do your home bathroom. Don’t leave towels, empty bottles, soap, etc laying around in there. Use the trash cans! And wipe yourself off before getting out of the shower instead of dripping water everywhere for other members to step through. Of course, there is plenty more regarding locker room behavior for both men and women I could discuss here but… you get the idea!
  11. Don’t leave trash, clothing, etc. laying around the floor of the gym or on the machines. Respect your surroundings. Bring anything you think someone has forgotten to the lost and found at the front desk. You may be the one who leaves something behind one day and are grateful for retrieving it from the lost and found.
  12. Bring a lock and use a locker for your personal belongings. The gym is not responsible for loss of your personal stuff. I’ve seen people simply pile their clothes on the floor or above a locker. Use a locker and lock… and use your head!
These are just 12 things that come to mind while working out at my local gym and what I’ve witnessed over the years. Feel free to add to this list with your comments. I’m sure there are more considerations I’ve not mentioned here.
In the meantime, ENJOY your workout and we’ll see ya next time for Friday Fitness Tip #7!

DISCLAIMER: I am NOT a fitness expert in any way. I’m not a certified trainer, dietician, or medical doctor… nor do I hold a degree in physical education, dietary science, sports medicine or any other field related to today’s fitness. I am just a normal guy who’s been working out regularly at a gym, 3 - 4 days per week for the last 32 years. I take my health seriously. I figure, I do no service to my profession as a Voice Actor/Voiceover Talent (sometimes on camera) nor to anyone else if I don’t try and maintain good health. And I’ve learned a few things along the way that I’d like to share with you. These ideas work for me and just might work for you. Stay tuned for many more tips! -

2015 Audio Christmas Wish


                                    Happy Holidays From Rick Lance
                                   The Voice of Americana



Hope you're enjoying a peaceful, happy holiday season with family, friends 
and coworkers. It's the one time of year we can all just chill for a while.

Please click ABOVE link for a quick audio greeting.

"Hi, this is Rick Lance
 With a simple wish to you, your family and loved ones.
 For a very, Merry Americana Christmas and a happy, healthy new year!  
Whether you celebrate the season or not, I'm sure you embrace it's spirit
of Peace... Love... and Faith.

 And thanks you so much for being a part of my life!

 See ya' soon in 2016! 

 Cheers...  Peace... and Chocolates!"

Friday, December 11, 2015

Friday Fitness Tip #5: From a 32-year Fitness Novice

Last Friday I took you through about 1/2 of my 3-4 day per week workout. The one I’ve been doing for 32 years now. I broke down each machine I use to illustrate. As I said before, don't be intimidated by the weight machines. They’re designed for people like you and me who lead active lives, are not trying to become competitive bodybuilders or pro athletes. Rather just trying to maintain good health, strength and flexibility. Btw, I should note that, due to an old hernia repair.. I know, maybe TMI but… I do not use any leg machines other than the aerobics machines I discussed earlier. As you are there in the gym, you will be able to understand the illustrations attached to each leg machine. Just remember, to avoid injuring your back be sure to keep pressed firmly up against the backboard while in your seat. Use like machines while you are working like muscles for maximum benefit.

I left off last Friday with the Chest Press machine.
Next to the… in order…
  1. Universal Machine’s Assimilated Row pull. The Universal Machines offer several exercises using various hand grips. One that I use is an angled bar. Sitting on the bench facing the machine, arms extended, feet on the angled platform. As you pull toward your chest, keep your elbows up concentrating on working the upper back. Roll your shoulders as if rowing a boat. Do 3 sets, 12-15 reps. Again, for ALL machines, use an appropriate amount of weight to work with.
  2. Universal Machine’s Shoulder Pull down. This exercise will work the area from the top of your shoulders to your neck as well as a bit of the upper back. It is a long angled bar with grips that you attach to the Universal Machine over your head. You then pull straight down to your chest as I do… or you can bring it behind your head. Holding for a 2 count in the extended and retracted positions. 
  3. Overhead Press Machine works your deltoids by lifting the curved bar overhead while sitting down. While not letting the weight plates touch, breath IN as you lift upward and breath OUT as you lower the bar. Go slowly and “feel” the muscles working. NOTE: Don’t SUCK air in BLOW out air heavily. Breath normally but purposefully, filling and emptying your lungs with air.
  4. Deltoid Extension Press. Again sitting down, this machine works the very ends of your deltoids as you raise your elbows from your sides to position your arms parallel to the floor.Your elbows and forearms should be pushing against the pads as you raise and lower your arms. Again, keep your back snug up against the backboard.
  5. Next, I use some dumbbells (optional) for additional shoulder and arm exercises.
  6. Now it’s time to wrap up your workout with your arms routine. Start with your triceps. There’s a good machine for triceps, Triceps Extension, that supports your elbows (sitting down) as you extend your arms while the pressure point is on your triceps… not biceps. I prefer to again use the Universal Machine’s angled bar which I pull down from overhead, lean slightly forward bringing it down to about waist level… then back up. Never locking my arms in either up or down position. Which can cause harm to the wrist and elbow joints. This is also true with ALL machines. So, a word of caution here. DO NOT lock your arms or legs out to full extension so as to avoid joint injury. 
  7. The last machine is the Biceps Press. This machine isolates your biceps (sitting down) by supporting your upper arms(under your triceps) with a large pad as you lift and pull towards you by gripping the angled bar in front of you. For both the Triceps Extension and the Biceps Press you should adjust your seat setting so that your shoulders are just below ear level.
That’s it!!! You’re done. Now’s a good time to stretch a little while you cool down and head for the shower. It’s never a good thing to just walk out the gym door without cooling down or showering. I see guys do this all the time. I think, just so they can show off while their still pumped up! But, hey, you risk cramping by doing that. Now’s the time to let your body relax and recover, have a protein shake and get ready for your next gym workout! 

See ya’ next Friday for a new Friday Fitness tip #6!

DISCLAIMER: I am NOT a fitness expert in any way. I’m not a certified trainer, dietician, or medical doctor… nor do I hold a degree in physical education, dietary science, sports medicine or any other field related to today’s fitness. I am just a normal guy who’s been working out regularly at a gym, 3 - 4 days per week for the last 32 years. I take my health seriously. I figure, I do no service to my profession as a Voice Actor/Voiceover Talent (sometimes on camera) nor to anyone else if I don’t try and maintain good health. And I’ve learned a few things along the way that I’d like to share with you. These ideas work for me and just might work for you. Stay tuned for many more tips to come! 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

3 Tips for More Effective Collaboration

There are plenty of voice actors out there who are the package deal - they handle everything from the voice recording to storyboard creation to final edits. Not all of us are so multi-talented though, and we require a team of individuals to get the job done. With the right crew and the right approach, this type of collaboration can result in some really great experiences. However, with so many people providing input into a project, there is always the potential for some bumps in the road. To avoid these, use these 3 tips to keep collaboration effective and running smoothly.

1.    Communicate often and effectively. When you’re working with others toward a shared goal, you have to keep the lines of communication open. Being able to update one another on the project’s progress, bounce ideas off each other, and provide feedback is essential for creating a product you can all be proud of. Everyone should have a voice, and all voices should be respected. Speak regularly through whatever platform you prefer - phone, email, text, video chat - whatever it takes to keep you all on the same page.

2.    Stay on the same page - Speaking of keeping everyone on the same page, you have to do this if you want successful collaborative experiences!  This starts with clear direction from the top about what is expected from each person and what the desired outcome is. Each person also needs a solid understanding of their role and how it fits with those of other team members. Everyone must work with the understanding that their piece fits together with everyone else’s to create the larger product.

3.    Respect and appreciation for all involved - Everyone involved in the project plays an important part, and no one person is more valuable than another. Everyone in the group must respect the others, and recognize that without them, the project won’t be complete.  Group dynamics can be a funny thing sometimes, and it’s vital that each person on the team feel appreciated and like they’re a valuable part of the crew. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

3 Sources for Perfecting Tricky Accents

Let’s be honest here, certain accents just don’t come easy for some voice actors. However, there are probably going to be times during  your career when you’ve got to do one, or at least give a passable attempt at one. If you’re an actor who struggles with the nuances and inflections of regional accents, here are 3 sources to help you find that sound.

  1.         YouTube - Naturally, YouTube tops the list here. This is easily the world’s largest resource for online video content, and the site includes hundreds of thousands of educational videos as well. Simply plug keywords, such as British Isles accent or New Jersey accent, into the search tool, and voila - videos featuring your specified accent will appear. A note of caution, however, for anyone using YouTube for educational purposes - the YouTuber isn’t always going to be an expert. In fact, most times, it’s just a regular person like you and me who thinks they know what they’re talking about. Maybe they do, maybe they don’t. The point is to take that under advisement and don’t rely on just one or two videos to teach you everything you need to know.

  2.          Videojug - Videojug is another decent source for accent help. There are a number of great tutorials on there, including American accents, Welsh, Spanish, Russian and more. There are also videos to help you practice other skills, such as deepening or disguising your voice convincingly. While Videojug doesn’t have the range that YouTube does,  you can pick up some helpful hints about lip and tongue movements and how these affect accent.

  3.          Accent Help - Unlike YouTube and Videojug, Accent Help isn’t a free resource. However, the fee is fairly nominal, and it provides an excellent resource for voice over actors. In fact, that’s who the program was designed for. Accent Help downloads tutorials and other resource materials directly onto your computer, many of which include sound files of people speaking in their native regional accents.
An advantage we have as voice actors is that is doesn't matter HOW we look as we perform with our learned accents. We can scrunch up our faces, tilt our heads, hold our noses or posture anyway we choose to produce the we want to achieve. Unfortunately, for on camera and stage actors they do not have this luxury.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

How do you Define Success in Voice Over?

Merriam-Webster defines success as “getting or achieving wealth, respect, or fame.” Pretty solid definition, right? But does it apply to voice over? Many would say yes, and I would agree them...for the most part. What I mean by that is, in VO, there’s more to success than what Merriam-Webster says there is. It’s not just wealth, fame, and respect - it’s about meeting your individual goals, too. What I’m talking about here is your personal definition of success, or what you hope to accomplish in your career. This is the other side of the coin, and it’s critical that you are able to define this.

If you are still a bit fuzzy on exactly what makes up your personal definition of success, look at like this - what are your specific goals for your VO career? Do you want to one day be the voice of a major advertising campaign? Do you want to record best-selling audiobooks? Do you want to get involved in big-time television and movie deals? Or are you content with smaller projects as long as they pay the bills? There’s no right or wrong answer here; it’s just whatever you want to accomplish as a voice actor. Sometimes, for me, I'm just amazed at the people out there who will listen to the messages I bring to them with MY voice. It can be that simple... just a real kick to see this.

Being able to pinpoint your own definition of success is important for several reasons, the most important of which is that it serves as a guideline for you throughout your career. Setting these goals gives you focus and motivation; without them, you’ll probably find that you’re a bit lost, just bumbling along and taking whatever jobs come your way.

With a clear idea of success, though, you can formulate a plan to achieve it. You can set mini goals for yourself to meet along your path to success, and you can target areas that you need to develop to get there. Knowing how YOU define success in your voice over career can make the difference in whether or not you reach it. If you’re not able to answer the question “How do you know when you’re successful?”, then take some time to reflect on it - without a clear definition, you may never get there. 

Friday, December 4, 2015

Friday Fitness Tip #4: From a 32-year Fitness Novice

In last Friday’s Black Friday Fitness Tip #3, I gave you an overview of my own workout routine that I stick to 3-4 days a week. And have done so for 32 years now. Oh, I’ve missed a few here n’ there but not enough to throw me off a good routine. Besides my work routine as a Voice Actor, this is the one consistent regimen I’ve kept a big part of my life. 

Now let me give you a breakdown of each weight machine I use in the order in which I use them. Btw, don’t let these machines intimidate you. They are meant to make your workout easier, simpler and safer than using free weights. When Arthur Jones first developed the Nautilus line of weight machines, he adapted seat belts to all the machines in an effort to encourage you to keep your back in place to avoid lower back stress. These days the seat belts have been phased out. However, be sure to set your seat height correctly and keep the small of your back pressed up against the seat back while going through the exercise.
Here’s a link to “Weight Machines For Dummies”.

I begin my workout with stretches for my arms, legs and midsection.
  1. Then get on the Back Machine. Set the seat and the weight. A good rule of thumb is to adjust the seat so that when you sit down your thighs are parallel to the floor and your feet are flat on the ground. This ensures that your legs can support your body throughout the exercise. Use lighter weights at first until you get used to each machine. Each machine also has a “guide” diagram on it to show you proper body placement and technique. Go back and forth holding in each direction for a count of “2”.
  2. Abdominal Machine. Set your seat low enough so that your shoulders are crunching over your abdomen and go back and forth holding for a 2 count. Do each rep slowly as you feel your muscles working. And don’t let the weight plates touch.
  3. Stationary Bike - Set the seat back so your legs stretch out to the pedals enough for a solid push on the balls of your feet. Do 30 minutes at a moderate pace. If it’s comfortable use the machines arms to the sides as well.
  4. Elliptical Cross Trainer - Not much to set here. Just get in the pedals and program your workout on the digital panel in front of you. This is a great machine since there is NO stress on your knees due to the “floating” pedal and propulsion system. 
  5. Chest Fly Machine. My first of two chest machines. For the pectoral muscles on each side of the breast bone. With feet flat on the floor and arms stretched to slightly above shoulder height, slide your fingers between the crossbar and the pad so that your palms are pushing against the pads. This insures that the pressure is set where you want it. As you slowly bring your arms together, try to touch your elbows… at least picture that… so that you use your pecks and not your shoulders for the exercise. Again, holding with a 2 count in both directions, not allowing the weight plates to touch. Note: This is true with the weight plates of all machines so that you are using your muscles, expanding and contracting, as you move through the exercise motion. 
  6. Chest Press - For the area around your pecks and muscles between chest and shoulders.  You are in a declining position at about a 45ยบ angle pressing forward with your arms away from your chest. Keep your elbows up parallel to the floor and slowly move back and forth. Inhaling (through your nose) as you lower the arms toward your chest and exhaling (through your mouth) as you push the arms away from your chest. Again, you should be doing a weight that you can handle 12 -15 reps and 3 sets with.
I’ll stop right here and pick up next week with Friday Fitness Tip #5 and continue with the rest of my workout. Hey… relaaaax! We’re almost halfway home! See ya’ next time! 

DISCLAIMER: I am NOT a fitness expert in any way. I’m not a certified trainer, dietician, or medical doctor… nor do I hold a degree in physical education, dietary science, sports medicine or any other field related to today’s fitness. I am just a normal guy who’s been working out regularly at a gym, 3 - 4 days per week for the last 32 years. I take my health seriously. I figure, I do no service to my profession as a Voice Actor/Voiceover Talent (sometimes on camera) nor to anyone else if I don’t try and maintain good health. And I’ve learned a few things along the way that I’d like to share with you. These ideas work for me and just might work for you. Stay tuned for many more tips to come!