If you want to know how comfortable someone is in the gym, watch them walk into a new place. If they get excited that you have several squat racks and free weights up to 150, they’ve earned their place. They know what it takes to succeed, and equally know that it ain’t machines. Yet, that’s what the majority of people look for when they are deciding if a particular gym is for them. Surely mo’ machines = mo bettah gym = even mo bettah workout?
Machines can have their place, but… there’s very little that you can do on a machine that you can’t do with free weights. The exception is going heavy without a spotter– machines do help with that if you’re pushing your limits. But other than that, most machines actually have several downsides:
- They work both sides of the body at the same time. This sounds like a good thing. But when you think about needing to be balanced from left to right, top to bottom, and front to back, these machines aren’t doing you any favors. If one side is stronger than the other, the strong side keeps getting stronger and the weak side is never challenged. If you’re confused, check out this vlog. Vlog#1: Why I Hate Straight Bar Training It deals with straight bars, but most machines (unless they are ISO-lateral… works each side independently) work the same way.
- You’re negecting some other muscles that you could be working. Liiiiike your core/stabilizer muscles. I’m a big fan of work the muscles you’re working. (And not doing goofy things like lifting on a bosu ball to “work your core”) But. I believe that having to stabilize your body while doing squats or bicep curls or whatever is hugely beneficial.
Machines, if they are the right kind, can be beneficial. Are they necessary for a great workout? Absolutely, unquestionably, undeniably… not. Wanna sound like you know what you’re talking about when you walk into a gym? Ask about their free weights. Or you know, you could look like this when you walk in…
Freebie: Here’s a great body weight workout! Guaranteed to show you who you really are… (I know, because that’s me performing the routine.) Check out Vlog #3: Lose the Weights to Lose the Weight
Think coming in and doing the same workout with the same weights week after week is doing you any good? Check out tomorrow’s post…