One of the most common things Personal Trainers hear is, “I just want to learn how to use the machines.” As many of you may have noticed, almost no Personal Trainers spend their sessions on machines, and the people you see using machines as their primary mode of resistance training have a high tendency to need elbow braces, knee braces and wrist wraps. Here’s why getting away from machines and focusing on free, natural motion will help you achieve better results from both an aesthetic and performance perspective!
When it comes to lifting weights, the type of equipment you use greatly influences the results you achieve. Weight machines can be great because they are easy to use, isolate muscle groups more efficiently, and allow you to lift heavier weights unassisted. However, when it comes to improving overall health and longevity, these machines lack various key components and thus should not be your only mode of weight training. Machines are fixed to an axis and constrain your movement to a specific, one dimensional path. This prevents your body from the way it was designed, because every day activity and movement is three dimensional. Repeatedly working in one dimension, can cause issues with joints and result in overuse injuries. In order to train your body for optimal health, you must expose your muscles and joints to a variety of loads, angles, and speeds.
When lifting weights, you should opt for exercises which mimic movements you do on a daily basis, such as squatting, lifting things over your head, and rotating your body. Machines fall short at training the body as a whole unit and provide too much support while lifting, which decreases the need for engaging core muscles and smaller stabilizing muscles. Exercises which focus on whole body strength are more effective, because they require you to support your own body weight while isolating specific muscle groups. An added benefit to these exercises is an increase in calories burned and improved activation of neuromuscular pathways(movement patterns that increase performance and decrease the risk of injury.)
To start, try the basic plank exercise, also called a hover. It is a great starting place if you want to improve your core strength and stability. Start by getting in a pushup position, but bend your elbows and rest your weight on your forearms (instead of your hands) and toes. Your body should form a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles. Brace your core by contracting your abs as if you were about to be punched in the gut. Hold this position for 30 seconds.
Although machines make exercise more simple they come at a high cost. Start simple with isometric exercises(non-movement such as planks) and as your confidence grows start challenging yourself with more advanced exercises such as squats and push ups. As always the team of experienced professionals at ProCore Fitness are always available to answer any questions you may have. You can find us on FaceBook or at procorefit.net. Always challenge yourself and keep growing!