When you walk into a gym, you will most likely see a lot of machines. There are treadmills, ellipticals, and busbar machine that you can use to target a specific area of your body. You can create a total body circuit by simply using machines. They require less stabilization and recruit less muscle groups than weight training. Sitting on a machine deems a large percentage of your body obsolete while only an isolated group of muscles are being targeted.
Think of the way our body moves. It moves in patterns. When you walk up and down the stairs, your ankles, knees and hips are moving, your core is engaged and your entire body is active. When we are running, walking, climbing, twisting and bending, we are moving as a unit. Each muscle serves a function as they grow and work together. When you sit down on a machine, you are eliminating the workload from the muscles, other than the prime mover. The superficial muscle you are targeting will grow stronger. The muscles it needs to stabilize during movement will not. Exercising in this manner will create muscle imbalances and altered movement patterns. You will put yourself at greater risk for injury and create postural distortions. Consider some alternatives during your gym visits.
I’ve had new members tell me that they will start off their routines by using machines until they are comfortable enough to use weights. They feel that machines are the prerequisite to using weights. Let me get this straight. You come to the gym to sit down. Think about how much time you spend sitting in a day. Do you really need to go to the gym to sit some more. Get active and do some squats, lunges, deadlifts, push-ups, sit-ups, turkish get ups, planks or pull-ups. Engage your muscles. Yes it is more difficult and requires more work. The results are worth the hard work. You won’t have to worry about exercising to look good. Exercise to be healthy and your body will reflect exactly that.
If you plan to get on stage and flex your muscles for judges, then machines are for you. If that’s not the case, then consider an alternative. I’m not ruling out all machines. I am a frequent user of the cable crossover machine and I use it with my clients as well. It has several functions and can be effective for a total body workout. Stay away from the ones like the shoulder press, leg extension and leg curl machines. They limit your range of motion and may not be adjustable to your unique body. Minimize your risk of injury and maximize your muscle recruitment. We usually have a given amount of time to spend working out. Make the most out of it with compound movements. You don’t have to avoid machines altogether, just don’t revolve your entire workouts around them.