If you don't know your way around a weight room, heading to the gym can be intimidating -- and even dangerous. But paying attention to a few simple rules of proper technique can make you slimmer, stronger and healthier all over.

We spent an afternoon at Equinox with trainer and manager Rebecca Woll, learning the ins and outs of some of the most popular strength-training machines.

In the coming weeks, we'll be sharing Woll's thoughts on the biggest mistakes we all make while building muscle, plus her tips and tricks for better form. This week, we're perfecting the chest press.

The Faux Pas: Set up is key when it comes to this multi-joint movement, says Woll. Often, the handles are above or below the chest, which forces you to use other muscles than the ones you're targeting, she says. She also sees people sitting with their head off the bench. "The second that your head comes off you're using your traps, and all that does is build body-builder necks," she says.
2012-09-14-chestpressbefore.jpg

The Fix: First off, make sure the handles are right at your chest so that you are actually using those chest muscles, by adjusting the height of the seat, says Woll. Then, tilt the elbows up a little and bring the shoulders and head back. "Make sure the back of your head, the middle of your back and your hips are on the bench," says Woll. "That's going to allow you to press straight out, keeping your wrists nice and aligned," she says. Resist the temptation to shrug those shoulders forward. "As long as you send those shoulders down, you can feel it right in your lats," she says.
2012-09-14-chestpressafter.jpg

Tell us how it goes in the comments below, and be sure to check back over the following weeks to fix your form on the row machine, the seated fly and more.

Check out more in our Fix Your Form series below:

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  • Pushups: The Faux Pas

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/08/fix-your-form-pushup_n_1500458.html" target="_hplink">Find out how to do the perfect pushup here.</a>

  • Pushups: The Fix

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/08/fix-your-form-pushup_n_1500458.html" target="_hplink">Find out how to do the perfect pushup here.</a>

  • Lunges: The Faux Pas

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/15/fix-your-form-lunge_n_1515388.html" target="_hplink">Find out how to do the perfect lunge here.</a>

  • Lunges: The Fix

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/15/fix-your-form-lunge_n_1515388.html" target="_hplink">Find out how to do the perfect lunge here.</a>

  • Crunches: The Faux Pas

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/22/fix-your-form-crunches_n_1533341.html" target="_hplink">Find out how to do the perfect crunch here.</a>

  • Crunches: The Fix

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/22/fix-your-form-crunches_n_1533341.html" target="_hplink">Find out how to do the perfect crunch here.</a>

  • Dumbbell Rows: The Faux Pas

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/29/fix-your-form-row_n_1546174.html" target="_hplink">Find out how to do the perfect row here.</a>

  • Dumbbell Rows: The Fix

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/29/fix-your-form-row_n_1546174.html" target="_hplink">Find out how to do the perfect row here.</a>

  • Planks: The Faux Pas

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/05/fix-your-form-planks_n_1567803.html" target="_hplink">Find out how to do the perfect plank here.</a>

  • Planks: The Fix

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/05/fix-your-form-planks_n_1567803.html" target="_hplink">Find out how to do the perfect plank here.</a>

  • Squats: The Faux Pas

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/12/fix-your-form-squat_n_1586844.html" target="_hplink">Find out how to do the perfect squat here.</a>

  • Squats: The Fix

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/12/fix-your-form-squat_n_1586844.html" target="_hplink">Find out how to do the perfect squat here.</a>

  • Bridges: The Faux Pas

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/19/fix-your-form-bridge_n_1606366.html" target="_hplink">Find out how to do the perfect bridge here.</a>

  • Bridges: The Fix

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/19/fix-your-form-bridge_n_1606366.html" target="_hplink">Find out how to do the perfect bridge here.</a>

  • Bicep Curls: The Faux Pas

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/26/fix-your-form-bicep-curl_n_1625129.html" target="_hplink">Find out how to do the perfect bicep curl here.</a>

  • Bicep Curls: The Fix

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/26/fix-your-form-bicep-curl_n_1625129.html" target="_hplink">Find out how to do the perfect bicep curl here.</a>

  • Overhead Press: The Faux Pas

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/03/how-to-exercise-dumbbell-overhead-press_n_1643324.html" target="_hplink">Find out how to do the perfect dumbbell overhead press here.</a>

  • Overhead Press: The Fix

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/03/how-to-exercise-dumbbell-overhead-press_n_1643324.html" target="_hplink">Find out how to do the perfect dumbbell overhead press here.</a>

  • Dips: The Faux Pas

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/10/how-to-exercise-triceps-dip_n_1659434.html" target="_hplink">Find out how to do the perfect triceps dip here.</a>

  • Dips: The Fix

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/10/how-to-exercise-triceps-dip_n_1659434.html" target="_hplink">Find out how to do the perfect triceps dip here.</a>

  • Side Lunges: The Faux Pas

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/17/how-to-exercise-side-lunge_n_1677034.html" target="_hplink">Find out how to do the perfect side lunge here.</a>

  • Side Lunges: The Fix

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/17/how-to-exercise-side-lunge_n_1677034.html" target="_hplink">Find out how to do the perfect side lunge here.</a>

  • Lateral Raises: The Faux Pas

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/16/how-to-exercise-lateral-raise_n_1677038.html" target="_hplink">Find out how to do the perfect lateral raise here.</a>

  • Lateral Raises: The Fix

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/16/how-to-exercise-lateral-raise_n_1677038.html" target="_hplink">Find out how to do the perfect lateral raise here.</a>

  • Crunches On A Ball: The Faux Pas

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/31/how-to-exercise-fix-your-form-ball-crunches_n_1719734.html" target="_hplink">Find out how to do the perfect crunches on a ball here.</a>

  • Crunches On A Ball: The Fix

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/31/how-to-exercise-fix-your-form-ball-crunches_n_1719734.html" target="_hplink">Find out how to do the perfect crunches on a ball here.</a>

  • Bench Press: The Faux Pas

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/07/fix-your-form-how-to-exercise-bench-press_n_1747599.html" target="_hplink">Find out how to do the perfect bench press here.</a>

  • Bench Press: The Fix

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/07/fix-your-form-how-to-exercise-bench-press_n_1747599.html" target="_hplink">Find out how to do the perfect bench press here.</a>

  • Bicycle Crunches: The Faux Pas

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/13/fix-your-form-how-to-bicycle-crunch-abs_n_1772855.html" target="_hplink">Find out how to do the perfect bicycle crunch here.</a>

  • Bicycle Crunches: The Fix

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/13/fix-your-form-how-to-bicycle-crunch-abs_n_1772855.html" target="_hplink">Find out how to do the perfect bicycle crunch here.</a>

  • Bridge On A Ball: The Faux Pas

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/21/fix-your-form-how-to-exercise-bridge-ball_n_1811672.html" target="_hplink">Find out how to do the perfect bridge on a ball here.</a>

  • Bridge On A Ball: The Fix

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/21/fix-your-form-how-to-exercise-bridge-ball_n_1811672.html" target="_hplink">Find out how to do the perfect bridge on a ball here.</a>

  • Leg Press: The Faux Pas

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/28/fix-your-form-how-to-exercise-leg-press_n_1833521.html" target="_hplink">Find out how to do the perfect leg press here.</a>

  • Leg Press: The Fix

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/28/fix-your-form-how-to-exercise-leg-press_n_1833521.html" target="_hplink">Find out how to do the perfect leg press here.</a>

  • Lat Pulldown: The Faux Pas

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/04/fix-your-form-how-to-exercise-lat-pulldown_n_1846635.html" target="_hplink">Find out how to do the perfect lat pulldown here.</a>

  • Lat Pulldown: The Fix

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/04/fix-your-form-how-to-exercise-lat-pulldown_n_1846635.html" target="_hplink">Find out how to do the perfect lat pulldown here.</a>

  • Torso Rotation: The Faux Pas

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/11/fix-your-form-how-to-exercise-torso-rotation_n_1870821.html" target="_hplink">Find out why you should stop using the torso rotation machine here.</a>

  • Torso Rotation: The Fix

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/11/fix-your-form-how-to-exercise-torso-rotation_n_1870821.html" target="_hplink">Find out why you should stop using the torso rotation machine here.</a>

  • Chest Press: The Faux Pas

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/18/how-to-exercise-fix-your-form-chest-press_n_1884554.html" target="_hplink">Find out how to do the perfect chest press here.</a>

  • Chest Press: The Fix

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/18/how-to-exercise-fix-your-form-chest-press_n_1884554.html" target="_hplink">Find out how to do the perfect chest press here.</a>

  • Assisted Pull-Ups: The Faux Pas

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/25/fix-your-form-how-to-exercise-pull-up-machine_n_1909397.html">Find out how to do the perfect assisted pull-up here.</a>

  • Assisted Pull-Ups: The Fix

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/25/fix-your-form-how-to-exercise-pull-up-machine_n_1909397.html">Find out how to do the perfect assisted pull-up here.</a>

  • Triceps Extensions: The Faux Pas

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/02/fix-your-form-how-to-exercise-overhead-triceps-extension-press_n_1929249.html">Find out how to do the perfect overhead triceps extension here.</a>

  • Triceps Extensions: The Fix

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/02/fix-your-form-how-to-exercise-overhead-triceps-extension-press_n_1929249.html">Find out how to do the perfect overhead triceps extension here.</a>

  • Seated Fly: The Faux Pas

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/09/how-to-exercise-fix-your-form-seated-fly_n_1948942.html">Find out how to do the perfect seated fly here.</a>

  • Seated Fly: The Fix

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/09/how-to-exercise-fix-your-form-seated-fly_n_1948942.html">Find out how to do the perfect seated fly here.</a>

  • Reverse Fly: The Faux Pas

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/16/how-to-exercise-fix-your-form-reverse-fly_n_1967258.html">Find out how to do the perfect reverse fly here.</a>

  • Reverse Fly: The Fix

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/16/how-to-exercise-fix-your-form-reverse-fly_n_1967258.html">Find out how to do the perfect reverse fly here.</a>

  • Abductors/Adductors: The Faux Pas

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/22/fix-your-form-how-to-exercise-hip-abductor_n_2001455.html">Find out why you should stop using the abductor/adductor machine here.</a>

  • Abductors/Adductors: The Fix

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/22/fix-your-form-how-to-exercise-hip-abductor_n_2001455.html">Find out why you should stop using the abductor/adductor machine here.</a>

  • Row Machine: The Faux Pas

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/08/fix-your-form-how-to-exercise-row-machine_n_2089918.html">Find out how to use the row machine properly here.</a>

Photos by Damon Dahlen, AOL

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