For a while the world went bonkers – Bigger was better. The man with the most toys won! (what that man won I don’t know). Stuff was a measure of your status. Gyms went there as well. The bigger the machine the better. There was soon a machine for each body part. Gym owners who were lacking in size in a part of their personal anatomy, made up for it by having two or three machines for every body part! I can’t lie – I’m not a huge fan. Personally, I like my workout time to be as beneficial for me as I can. I know, I know, you can’t catch up with what the Kardashians are up to if you are actually utilising your phone hand to hold a barbell . . . but bear with me, because here’s where I feel the machines are lacking:
- They don’t train complete movement patterns: They limit movement so a joint is often not utilised through its full Range of Motion, and they isolate movements down to one or two groups of musculature. Therefore they don’t train complete movement patterns, so they aren’t functional!
- Machines neglect stabilising muscles: And stabilisers are important to both complete joint health and posture. There is no logical reason to have big and or strong ‘main’ muscles, if the supportive ones which are usually there to make sure your joints work properly, can’t keep up with the demands the ‘well trained’ large muscles place on them. Really, there is no point in having impressive quads folks, if your knee joint is compromised because of it.
- They can actually cause injury: While weight machines were actually introduced to give weight lifting more appeal to a wider range of the population, because they were touted as easier and safer, there is a flip side. Machines are very easy to overload and a large number of people have torn muscles or damaged joints because the start of the movement was fine – until it wasn’t! (enter popping or tearing sensation). It is also easy to become prone to overuse injuries. Let’s face it, you don’t need a coach watching you on a machine – so you can do the movements you like, as often as you like, and you do! (enter joint wear and tear and eventual trips to the physio).
- You often have to queue: Flippant and a little petty I know. But as I said before, I prefer my workout to time to be as beneficial for me as I can. I don’t count waiting in line to get my pump on a positive use of my time (you might however utilise said wait time to find out who oops what, the Kardashians are doing).
Geez, I can see why you have to spend two hours at the gym. I can see it, but I don’t understand it! Let’s go flip side . . . I see your two hours on machines that neglect to train your whole body . . . and I raise you, 15 minutes of functional training movement done at an intensity that is relevant to you! “Ummmm that was a sentence that is outside of my comprehension!” – all good take a squiz here at how we scale and alter intensity – CrossFit movements Yes, 15 minutes of exercises that utilise your whole body, in formats that reinforce positions your body should move and be strong in, is more beneficial to you in the long term than two hours on a range of machines. You will utilise more energy (get fitter and burn more calories). You will be stronger for both everyday and unexpected situations. You will increase bone density. You will encourage joint health because you will put all joints through full Ranges of Motion (bodies after all are designed to work in multiple directions, not one singular plane). And last but not least you will actually utilise your brain to make sure you are thinking about the movements (CrossFit Access provides coaches too just to make doubly sure you are thinking correctly about how your body should be moving). Really the choice boils down to: Partially exercised, machine zombie . . . or Machine of the human kind . . . it is after all where the saying – Machines, we don’t use them, we build them came from!