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 focusing on the thighs.

The Faux Pas: Fitness experts tend to agree that the popular hip abductor/adductor machine is actually one worth skipping. It's easy to load up the weight on this machine and feel like you're making progress, but it isn't a "functional" movement, says Woll, meaning it's not a movement that replicates anything you do outside the weight room. Lifting a heavy load on this machine can strain the spine, she explains, and can make the IT band so tight it throws the knee cap out of place.
2012-10-22-adductor.jpg

The Fix: Instead, Woll recommends more "practical" bodyweight exercises, she says.

One option is a modified version of her solution to the torso rotation machine. Make sure the hand closest to the machine is on the bottom, then do a set of lunges, alternating legs. "This is a really good alternative," she says. "Your core fires, your hamstrings, your quads, your glutes. We're challenging your balance and getting your whole lower body. There's no reason to put huge amounts of weight on individual joints when just five pounds is doing that to all your [lower body] joints."
2012-10-22-adductorafter.jpg

Bridges are another good option. Lie down with feet flat on the ground, hip-width apart and squeeze a yoga block between your knees. "You'll feel the insides of your thighs firing, essentially what you would be doing on the machine," says Woll. Press into your heels, tuck the pelvis slightly underneath and press up, working the quads, hamstrings and glutes. Make sure the back is flat and you'll feel your abs working, too, she says.
2012-10-22-bridgeafter.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 shoulder press 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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