To beginners, a gym can look like an overwhelming sea of torture devices. It’s easy to lose focus on your workout due to the lack of understanding or the poor choice of equipment. As a general rule, free weight or free standing exercises work more muscle groups and don’t force your body into uncomfortable positions, but, like everything, different things work for different people.
Below is a list of 5 gym machines you need to stop using:
1) The seated leg extension: This can put your knees at high risk. Most machines force you to move the way the machine moves, and it’s important to use natural movements, You were just at work all day sitting down, and you’re coming to the gym and now you’re sitting at another machine. It’s really important to move your body.
Instead: Do squats! A basic body weight squat would be just as good, if not better. If you’re having trouble with form, or if you have joint problems, chair sits literally just sitting in a chair and then standing, with multiple repetitions are a great way to start. For more advanced moves, you can do modifications to your squats, like using one leg.
2) The seated chest fly: You’re isolating a few muscle groups and doing a pretty unnatural movement. This exercise runs a high risk of putting unnecessary strain on your rotator cuff muscles.
Instead: Do push-ups, you can modify push-ups to make them easier or harder. Push-ups force you to work your core and stabilize your surrounding muscles, as opposed to isolating several large muscle groups, like most machines do.
3) The seated hip abductor: You should be using your hips, thighs, and natural body weight at the same time. When you’re sitting, you’re not using your core.
Instead: Use resistance bands and do lunges. Resistance bands are much less expensive and you can travel with them.You can also do side leg raises or side lunges. If you want to focus on the inner thigh, put a ball between your legs (quite literally, any ball) and squeeze. This can be done on your back or in a squat position.
4) The seated shoulder press: This machine has a very restrictive range of motion and can cause a lot of shoulder issues. Forcing these muscles into an awkward position can lead to serious injury.
Instead: Use free weights or medicine balls. The same exercise can be done with free weights you can use a set of dumbbells, which means you’ll be using your natural range of motion. Throwing a medicine ball against a wall from about 60cm away, with your arms above your head, will give similar results and get your heart rate up.
5) Any abdominal machine: These machines only work your outer abs, not the deeper muscles, so you don’t get even muscle tone and it can actually make your abs less flat.
Instead: Do planks. Planks are perfect not only for working your abs, but your arms and back as well. In addition, trying to touch your knee to the opposite elbow in a plank position, for example is also a great way to work your obliques.