If you walk At a commercial gym these days, you’re likely to see a bustling area full of free weights, lines of guys waiting for their turn at the much-coveted set of dumbbells.
Look at another part of the place and you’ll see an almost empty section filled with fitness machines, without a single person using the equipment who knows what they’re doing. As functional training has become mainstream, the use of machines has become commonplace in many areas of the fitness community.
It’s past time to move on from that workout mistake Men’s Health Fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, CSCS, and Matthew Forzaglia, NFPT, CPT, and machines let them rise again.
Don’t get confused – neither of our experts think that using barbells, dumbbells and kettlebells is necessary to reach your muscle growth and strength goals. However,
it’s time to stop overlooking the benefits of using fitness machines in your training – before the functional fitness phenomenon emerged, it was a staple of numerous training methods, from bodybuilding to sports performance training.
“There was a point where you walk into a gold gym. You walk into your sports club and everybody’s using all the machines and there’s tons of people training. [machines]”Samuel says.
“Then we had this whole functional fitness revolution, and all of a sudden, nobody was training on machines. That area isn’t touched in your gym, and you’re missing out when you don’t get on those machines.
Samuel and Forzaglia have a beef with fitness machine loathing—so they’re here to explain why you shouldn’t buy into the myths surrounding these training methods, and how you can use the machines instead of wasting your time during your next workout.
3 Myths About Fitness Machines You Should Forget
Fitness machines do not create total body tension
One of the biggest drawbacks of using exercise machines is that they cannot create enough tension to build muscle. It’s just plain lazy. You’re always in control of how much tension you create in your body during the exercise—certain exercises that use free weights rely heavily on that tension when you do them correctly.
Whether you’re cranking out reps on a hammer-strength chest press or pulling through rows of machines, it’s up to you to focus on activating your core or glutes with each movement.
Exercise machines are very easy
Since most machines are static-movement devices (lat pulldowns, leg extensions, etc.), pushing or pulling from point A to B is mislabeled as not challenging enough because you’re not forced to use your stabilizing muscles. Boost your shape.
This is again a problem. If you’ve ever had to force yourself through some final free weight reps with shaky arms or other muscles, you probably know that you could be one slip or jerk away from risking injury. This is where machines can really be a great finishing move, as you can challenge yourself with heavier weights without the risk of fatigue ruining your work.
Exercise machines not working
Quite frankly, “functional” training has become a convoluted, confusing training term. Not every lift falls under these standards, but if you press or pull a weight, whether it’s a machine or free weight, you’re building strength, using different techniques, and can be on the road. .
3 Reasons Why You Should Use Machines
You can overload your muscles and train for long periods of time using machines
Here is where machines come in very handy. Instead of struggling or pushing yourself to failure, the machine’s constant movement patterns allow you to work longer sets or reps without the risk of dropping the weight. Most of the time, moving the weight stack quickly is enough to keep working the muscle for a few extra reps. In other words, the machine becomes your spotter.
“What I love is that you can load the weight and pile on the reps and push yourself, and that’s the point of love, but you can say that the machine can really figure it out, because basically,” Samuel says. “When I’m in a flare position on a triple dumbbell or barbell press, if there’s a spot behind me, they work like my machine techniques. The machine does it for me.
Exercise machines can challenge different points of stimulation
Check out the machine section of your gym. You’ll notice that some models are equipped to challenge different degrees of movement or angles by changing a pin on the machine’s arms. Some lateral raise machines allow you to isolate the muscle from the upper, mid, or full range of motion, creating a different challenge for your muscles.
Exercise machines allow you to train differently
A fun way to challenge your training is to use the machines in different ways. You can focus on the eccentric part of the press, work under a heavier load than you can press, or focus on one joint at a time without balance in the equation. While the machines allow you to complete your workout with intensity, there is no chance of injury if you fail.
Jeff Tomko is a freelance fitness writer who has written for Muscle & Fitness, Men’s Fitness, and Men’s Health.