There is a bit of an off trend in fitness these days in that personal trainers and trainees tend to shun machines for not being functional in their workout. Things like the leg press machine, Smith machine, machine curls, lat pull-downs or seated bench presses, a lot of these are now deemed pointless sadly by a lot of the health industry.
I think all of this is ludicrous because building muscle, getting stronger and working on areas of your physique that are known weak spots does not sound pointless to me and machines can really help you accomplish this.
Machines have a number of benefits that free weights do not, this is not to say that you should reduce barbell or dumbbell work from your exercise program. Free weights should form the core of your workouts, it is in your best interest though to complement your free weight training with selected machines like the cable cross-over station, Hammer-strength, Smith machine and other modern muscle-builders.
Here are four great reasons to include machines in your workout.
Firstly, weight machines generally have a higher degree of built-in safety than free weight exercises which is very helpful for beginners. No exercise is 100% safe but you don’t have to worry about a loss of dumbbell control when doing overhead machine presses or getting trapped under a bar when using a Smith machine.
You could argue that a machine cannot offer natural movement but several machine movements are less technical and leave less room for error from its free-weight counterpart.
With free weights like barbells and dumbbells, part of the work done is to do with getting your balancing right to dictate the path of motion which limits how much weight you can lift some what. Machines balance the weight for you along a fixed, secure range of motion. All you have to do is push or pull the weight which allows more weight and thus allows you to overload your muscles in a safe manner.
With that being said, machines should be at the end of your workout after free weights. Compound exercises like Smith Machine bench presses, lat pull-downs and leg presses as an example are great to do early in your routine when you want to load the maximum amount of weight whilst your muscles are fresh.
When you want to beat on a particular muscle group, machines are often more practical than free weights. Dropsets are a great example of this, were you extend a set past muscle failure by decreasing the load one or more times and continuing to rep out. Dropsets can easily be done by running the rack but most other free weight moves are not quite so conducive to this technique.
Cable machines are ideal for dropsets , when you reach failure with a given weight you can simply lighten the load just moving the pin on the weight, this is usually done within a couple of seconds.
Another element to consider here is form, when muscles are very fatigued which is usually the case in the middle of a dropset, technique often does suffer. Machines can be a big help here. The path of motion is always fixed, many machines find you seated and in a less-compromised position for injury. The stress is mainly focused on the muscles, not on vulnerable joints like the lower back.
Machine exercises will always keep the exercise under constant tension through the full motion of every rep, free weights do not offer this. This means there is no place to rest through the full range of motion, keeping the target muscle under tension, the reason is simple, gravity.
A great example of this is the dumbbell fly, there is tension on your pecs as you lift the dumbbells up against gravity but the tension is removed as your hands go above your shoulders. The last 6-12 inches or so of the range of motion where the dumbbells are coming together are pretty much useless because you are not moving the weight against the force of gravity.
This is a bit of a lost opportunity to torch to the inner-pec muscle fibers which is a good reason to do cable flyes or cable cross-overs instead. With cables, those final inches of the range of motion are the most difficult as the inner pecs take over to help finish off the movement.
When it comes to balancing out a training/workout program, the right mix of free weights and machines can really give you an extra boost when you are trying to progress and make good gains at the gym.
Copyright © 2017 | Theme by MH Themes
The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.