Why Weight Machines Suck and What to Do Instead
Several major problems arise when you implement a machine-based workout program.
Your Joints Will Suffer: Many machines force you to work muscles independently of each other that typically work together in real life. This causes unnatural pulling on joints. An example is the leg extension and leg curl machines. Your hamstrings and quads never work independently of each other and it is bad for your knees to train them that way.
Training Machines Translates Dangerously in Real Life: The path is fixed on many machines (except cables) so you do not have to stabilize the weight in free space to move it. This becomes dangerous when you move the same weight in real life that you move in the gym. You can injure yourself because you have not trained the muscles that stabilize or balance the weight.
You’re Not Learning To Move Properly: Machines sell so well to gyms because there is no technique in using them. Typically you apply brute force against a padded surface – and your poor joints are screaming. Safely getting in shape is training to do compound movements with correct technique. This strengthens your movement patterns in the gym and in life. With machines, you lose out on the core and balance training that comes with proper training form.
Your Progress Will Stagnante: What if your gym closes earlier than you can train, you’re travelling, or just don’t have time to make it in to the gym? It is easy to leave fitness by the wayside when you can’t do your routine. The real problem you’ll face is how hard it is to get back into a fitness routine once you’ve stopped it. My clients have a game plan wherever they are. Dumbbells are available at most hotels and if they are not, it is especially valuable to have a body-weight routine you can rely on in a pinch.
People I meet who have been using machines exclusively almost always have poor balance, incomplete range of motion, and no results. Don’t be one of these people.
The next time you are at the gym and venture out to the weight-training area, be mindful of the equipment you chose to help you achieve your health and fitness goals. Be aware that some ways of training do more harm than good. It is always wise to get educated on proper form and technique, start with low weight, and establish correct muscle memory before progressing.
Pick up a dumbbell, kettle-bell, or barbell! Then lunge, squat, bench, row, press, pull, or swing it! You’ll have a much more efficient and safer workout and your joints will thank you later.