If you are a regular gym user, you will undoubtedly be aware that over the past few years, the industry is shifting from machines to free weights such as dumbbells, barbells and kettlebells, as well as body weight exercises. The rationale behind this is that free weights allow a natural range of movement, and works sets of muscles in a more natural way.
The flip side to this mindset shift is that gym machines have been copping a fair bit of flak. The main criticism of them is that they can hinder the natural movement and therefore limit the user’s progress. In addition to this, the movements they mimic also do not reflect the dynamics required in real life. Some even go as far to say that the range of movements of machines lead to an imbalance that could result in injuries when used over the long-term.
While there is some merit to such arguments, fitness experts have not condemned the machines to the extent that the rumour mills have. In fact, they even say that some machines are especially helpful to people who are new to working out. The reason behind this is that new users will find it useful to use equipment that focuses on certain muscles. Here is a list of seven machines that experts endorse:
One: The Lat Pulldown
The best way to strengthen one’s back muscles, especially the latissimus dorsi is with pull-ups. The problem: many people are nowhere near being at the strength level to be able to do even one pull-up. So how can they train their back muscles. Enter the lat pulldown machine. This effectively mimics the pull-up, but with a customisable load. Another variant to this machine is the Assisted Pull-Up.
Two: The Chest Press
The chest press is a machine that exercises the muscles the same way that a push-up does. While push-ups are generally not as difficult to achieve as pull-ups, some people do have trouble with it at first. In the same way that the lat pulldown machine helps with pull-ups, the chest press helps with push-ups. Definitely worth using.
Three: Seated Leg Press
This is the one where you sit down with your knees bent, and push towards a plate attached to a machine with a customisable load. Essentially, this is pretty much a seated version of doing squats. Most fitness experts will endorse this machine, as the range of motion not only trains up the leg muscles, but helps the stabiliser muscles achieve an adequate range of motion. The latter, as it is known, helps improve the form of squats.
Four: Rowing Machine
This is the only cardio machine on this list, not that there is anything wrong with other cardio equipment. Basically, the rowing machine simulates real rowing in an indoor environment, but with the added bonus of using more of one’s legs for extra calorie-burning. Think about it – if you’re not going to put down real-life rowing, why would you condemn its indoor equivalent?
Five: Hanging Leg Raise
This one, also known as the Captain’s Chair, is where you elevate yourself to a vertical position with your back leaning against a resting board while you lift your legs up. Not only does this work out your abdominal muscles, your legs also needs to put in some work. And the back support ensures you are not cheating.
Six: Cable Biceps Bar And Cable Triceps Bar
These are the bars where the attachment point is linked to a cable. Essentially the range of motion is the same as dumbbells. However, since there is resistance arising from the cable, it forces you to raise and lower the weight slowly. That takes extra effort, which is ultimately good for you. As a bonus, it also ensures that you’re not swinging the weight, which is the pinnacle of poor form.
I hope this has enlightened you, and that if you were brutally critical of all gym machines before, you are now come to a point where you are ready to opt out of the herd mentality that people should only train with free weights. Of course, a good alternative to both free weights and machines are resistance bands, which you can get here or at the Granite Fitness Online Store. Cheers!
These can help too:
Disclaimer: Some of the links on this site are affiliate links, which means that we get a small commission if you choose to get the product. However, rest assured that we will NEVER recommend anything that doesn't have a good reputation in the industry :)