You should already know that using free-weights will beat out using exercise machines, every time. Not only does it work out more muscle groups than being on a machine, free-weights are less likely to compromise your form, forcing you into uncomfortable positions, thus resulting in less injuries. Of course, we all have different bodies, and different things work on different people. Certain exercise machines like the standing cables (for any arm or shoulder exercises), elliptical and assisted pull-up are great for utilizing more than one body part. But not all exercise machines are created equal; beware of the following machines that might not be the best options at the gym (especially if you’re petite like me):
1. Any Abdominal Machine
Do you ever get on an abdominal machine and think “hmm… well this feels awkward.” Well, that’s because… it is. Abdominal machines are the absolute most awkward exercise machines I’ve ever used, not to mention, they’re the spine-killer!
As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, you can’t reduce fat on your core, you can however, try to tone it up, and definitely not by centering on only working the abdominals. The ab machines advertises just that, a concentration on losing your stomach or love handles. Except, it’s total false advertisement. You will not lose your love handles or stomach fat no matter how many repetitions of this exercise you do. Instead, opt for ab exercises that will work more than just your core.
2. Seated Shoulder Press Machine
This machine is designed for your shoulders and will work your triceps in the process. So what’s wrong with it? Again, the machine forces your shoulders into biomechanically unsafe positions. It makes your shoulders move and take on stress in ways they’re not supposed to. And shoulder injuries are no joke.
Instead of using the shoulder press, try using free-weights while standing. It’ll allow for more natural movements and less strain on your shoulders. Or try throwing a medicine ball overhead towards a point on the wall, while squatting down to catch it.
3. Hip Adduction & Abduction Machines
This is said to be the machine to do, especially for the ladies. It’s designed to tone the inner and outer thighs, while sculpting the hips. Errr… that’s NOT the case. These machines can actually give you dangerous hip, spine and knee issues! Again, you’re thinking that you can isolate a muscle, when you really cannot. The alternative is doing squats and side lunges with free-weights.
4. Being Too Consistent On The Treadmill
I really wanted to include this one because so many people abuse the treadmills. The cardio bunnies at my gym stay on the treadmills for an hour or more, thinking they’re shredding all their fat. When in reality, running on the treadmill on a consistent interval and resistance will do more harm than good for your joints. The key to using a treadmill is actually how hard you’re working rather than how long you can go (unless you’re training for a marathon).
To ease the tension on your joints, switch up the resistance, speed and interval. Doing mini sprints in between the walks and jogs will do wonders. Keep in mind that yes, you can lose weight by running, but you’re also burning off your muscles. High intensity interval training and weightlifting is much more effective than running straight on a treadmill if your goal is to lose fat, build muscles, and tone.
And that concludes my opinion of the most useless machines to do at the gym. Go for the free-weights, my fitsters! (That’s my new name for you guys, you like?) Also crucial to keep in mind, it’s best to switch up your exercise routine every so often so your body is not too used to one particular pattern all the time. Yes, you should always have a plan at the gym.