When it comes to strength training, you’ve got options.
You can use machines, free weights or your own body weight. The machines in most gyms take up 75% if not more of the floor space leaving a smaller area to use free weights. This set up might lead you to believe that the machines are the way to go for strength training, but lets take a deeper look.
The machines can be an easy way to strengthen the muscles, but there are many benefits you are missing out on by not subbing those exercises for free weights. Consider these reasons-
#1. When gyms are crowded, you’re usually left waiting to fit in your set, which wastes time and interferes with your momentum and HR which could compromise your workout. Working with free weights or your own body weight allows you to move at your own pace therefore keeping your HR up easier, and rockin’ out a great workout.
#2. Machines require sitting. Sitting is a major cause of muscular problems and therefore should be avoided at all cost! Most of us are over our hourly sitting quota and need to find more ways to stand up and move. Sitting doesn’t help you to improve your fitness. Standing and moving does.
#3. Balance and core strength don’t improve from sitting on machines. Pretty safe to say everybody wants to improve balance and core strength. Standing and moving especially with weights not only improves balance and core strength, it also improves all the small stabilizing muscles that support the movement.
Here are just a few examples of how I switch out machines for better total body movements.
Seated Chest Press- Push Up
Seated Leg Press- Squat or Lunges
Supine or Seated Hamstring Curl- Deadlift
Seated Shoulder Press- Standing shoulder press with DB’s
That is not to say you should never use the machines. As a matter of fact I do use these with my clients and for myself to train left and right imbalances as well as breaking through plateaus and for rehabilitation. They certainly have their place but if you are not using the free weights or your own body weight to gain strength and torch calories you may want to consider getting with a personal trainer or going to a boot camp class to lean how these exercises work. I guarantee you will feel the difference, love the variety and notice a bump in your fitness.