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The Benefits and Proper Use of Weight Machines at the Gym

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The Benefits and Proper Use of Weight Machines at the Gym

Weight machines in can get a bad rap. Some people are so focused on using every machine in the gym, they fail to get a well-rounded, functional workout that comes with free weight and body weight for strength building.

The downside of weight machines is that they tend to force a workout in a fixed position, rather than mimicking real life functions. That fact aside, there are some benefits to incorporating machine weights into your workout routine.
Cooper Fitness Center Professional Fitness Trainer Tonya Gutch explains the benefits of machine weight workouts and gives her tips on how to get the most out of your workout on the machine weights.

Benefits of Weight Machines
Though weight machines are not recommended as the sole means of strength training, relying on the machines can be beneficial in some instances.

Are you rehabbing from an injury or surgery? Using weight machines can help prevent further injury during your recovery. Weight machines pose less of a risk of over or under-extending the joints.

Are you new to working out? Relying on weight machines will help you acclimate to safe strength training as the machine helps to regulate appropriate range of motion for a particular exercise. Machines are also self-explanatory, which is an added benefit for beginners.

Getting the Most Out of Your Workout on the Weight Machines

  • Don’t rely on the back support. Instead, sit up and use your core to support your body.
  • If possible, stand while completing your weight workout instead of sitting down. FreeMotion Fitness Equipment® is one brand of weight machines developed so the user can stand up, or sit up without back support to stabilize the body. The FreeMotion machines are also wheelchair accessible.
  • Work with a Professional Fitness Trainer to learn how to (and how not to) use the weight machines. Most machines can be used in several ways, as opposed to just one. A fitness professional will help you learn the various ways to use a machine. Watch a video with Tonya for proper lat pulldown form.
  • Alternate upper and lower body exercises to burn more calories and get your heart rate up. Start with an upper body machine like a lat pull down and then move to the leg press, working your lower body while your upper body is resting.
  • If you plan to use machines every day, alternate between upper body one day and lower body the next.
  • Vary your rep range (numbers of repetitions of each exercise) and rep tempo (how fast or slow you complete each repetition).
  • Develop a strength-training program that combines machine weights and free weights. In doing so, you will stabilize and strengthen your joints and muscles, get fitter faster and become more efficient, no matter your age or experience level.
  • Find ways to challenge yourself to use the machine in different ways (one arm, two arms, sitting up, standing up) to get the most benefit from the machine.
  • Incorporate two exercises per muscle group into your workout routine. One free weight exercise and one machine exercise.

Sample Machine Weight Workout
Need a specific idea of an appropriate use of machine weights and free weights? Tonya recommends these exercises below.

Chest press machine
Incline chest press with free weights
Dumbbell one-arm row
Lat pull down machine
Dumbbell squats or the seated leg press

Note: Stay away from bicep curl machine, instead, do bicep curls using dumbbell and the triceps push down on a machine.

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends completing at least one set of eight to 12 reps on various machines that work eight to 10. If you workout on the machines just twice a week, hitting eight different machines and eight different muscle groups each time, you will reach the minimum requirement for strength gains according the American College of Sports Medicine guidelines.

Most Cooper Fitness Center Professional Fitness Trainers will use a combination of body weight, free weights and machine weight workouts in a clients’ routine. At Cooper Fitness Center, our primary goal is to train clients for life and the daily activities they’ll need to perform.

To learn more about personal training at Cooper Fitness Center, click here.

Article provided by Cooper Aerobics Marketing and Communications.