Weight machines may take up a lot of real estate on the gym floor, but if you look at them in total confusion, you’re not alone. And if you decide to ignore them completely and spend quality time with resistance training instead, you’re probably not missing out. Just because these popular machines are around (and you see some people using them) doesn’t mean they are essential to accomplishing your fitness goal.
What machines are we talking about? Think leg extension machine, squat rack, biceps curl machine, and other strength training machines you commonly see at the gym. This type of equipment can be useful for specific muscle isolation exercises, but that can limit their effectiveness -- plus, there’s an added risk for injury if you’re not using them correctly.
When it comes to working on building strength, exercises that utilize just your bodyweight, free weights like dumbbells and barbells that aren’t attached to a machine, or bands and resistance training systems like HYGEAR’s have a leg up on machines in a few ways.
Interested in learning more? Read on for seven reasons why weight machines are overrated.
1. They Can Increase The Risk of Injury
A lot of weight machines have pictures showing you what to do, but they are not always clear enough to show you exactly what muscles you should be using. If we’re focused on the wrong muscle groups with these popular machines, we can put our entire body in a precarious situation. This means you will be setting your body up for potential injury -- and even if you don’t get hurt, if you’re not using the muscles the weight machine is designed for, you won’t get the same results as you would if you’d use it correctly.
Part of the problem is that weight machines aren’t as accommodating to varying body sizes as free weight, resistance, and bodyweight exercises. Range of motion is not a one-size-fits-all thing -- you might find that one machine limits your ability to fully execute a certain movement, while another machine forces you to extend beyond what’s comfortable or safe for your body.
Newer weight machines tend to be a little more adjustable than the older ones, but if you don’t know the right way to set it up, you may end up doing the exercise wrong, risking a joint or muscle injury. Of course, all exercise has inherent risk, but adding in large equipment can up your chances of getting hurt when it is not used properly.
To make things even more complicated, each weight machine on the gym floor has best practices when it comes to proper form -- remembering everything can be really tricky, to say the least.
2. You Can’t Work On Your Weaknesses
Another reason why weight machines are overrated is that they make it really difficult to balance out weaknesses that you may have in certain muscles in your body. Typically, weight machines target a single muscle or just a few. Since your muscles are locked into a fixed position and range of motion, it doesn’t allow you to improve your strength in weak areas.
Bodyweight, band, and free weight exercises ensure that your weak muscles are put to work because there’s no unnatural fixed position or range of motion. Many weight machines also force you to work both of your arms or both of your legs at the same time, which can contribute to weaknesses in one side of the body or the other. Bodyweight, dumbbell, and band exercises eliminate this problem.
3. They Only Train One Direction
There are really only a few movements we do on a day-to-day basis that are in isolation. Weight machines only move in one plane, which will only make you stronger in one place. Therefore, you may be able to leg press 200lbs, but you’ll unlikely be able to transfer that to a squat even half as close because of the extra dimensions to the movement.
4. There’s Really No Skill Involved
The other part of your body that you train with exercise is your brain! By doing resistance training, your brain has to work really hard to control the movement and learn the skill. When you are doing, say, a seated biceps curl, you don’t have to think twice about how to move -- so your brain can switch off.
5. You Can Expect A Longer Workout
While it might seem like weight machines are easier and will save you time at the gym, a bodyweight or band workout is much faster. Since you work on many different muscles at once with each bodyweight exercise -- you can literally cut your workout time in half! In fact, if you perform bodyweight exercises in a circuit-style workout, using bands to add additional weight through resistance, you will also get your heart pumping (cardio) all in the same short workout. What’s not to love?
Plus, when you use the machines, you almost always will have to wait for someone else to finish up, or you’ll find that someone is waiting for you.
6. Weight Machines Lie To You
We’re sorry to say that you’re not as strong as the machine says you are. Weight machines can be deceptive depending on their setup angles. For instance, most leg press machines are on 45-degree angles, which means that if you can leg press 200lbs, you’re actually pushing 140lbs ( a rough rule of thumb to go by is you’ll be able to do 70 percent of the machine weight with free weight).
7. There Is No Stability Involved
Free weights and resistance training challenges so many more muscles than weight machines because you have to balance as you’re working through the movement. You are often sitting when using weight machines and isolating one muscle group at a time, which really doesn’t use your core to work. Therefore, your abs get little to no action. Having strong core muscles is really important because they protect all of your essential organs and make it easier to do many activities, such as swinging a golf club, getting a glass from the top shelf, and bending down to tie your shoes.
Even if you’re a total newbie to the gym, weight machines shouldn’t form the biggest part of your fitness routine. Resistance training gives you a lot more bang for your buck in terms of the muscles used and brain activity. The strength you build with resistance training like the resistance training system at HYGEAR transfers to everyday activities that weight machines don’t -- so while they might make you look a little more buff, weight machines are not functional in making day-to-day tasks easier.
The HYGEAR Gear 1 Smart Resistance System is all you need to strengthen your muscles to get into the best shape of your life. Whether you’re looking to lose a few inches around the middle, build lean, sexy legs, or simply increase your overall strength --- HYGEAR Gear 1 is for you.
Ready for a full gym experience from the comfort of your home? Skip the weight machines and check out HYGEAR today!