Exercise Machines Not Always Best

November 3, 2008 by Administrator 

I tend to get asked a lot by friends and strangers alike what I do for my personal workouts.  I love sharing information with everyone, but I have also learned that most people will never take action on the advice I give them.  A prime example of this occurred yesterday in between church services. 

While in the ladies restroom, I was approached and asked how long my workouts typically take and how often do I exercise.  Well, my workouts will range from 30-45 minutes and I exercise 5-6 days a week.  I then asked her what her routine was like.  She proceeded to give me a number of excuses as to why she had stopped working out recently but she was ready to get started again.  She usually just jumps on an elliptical trainer for an hour, 3 times a week at the local high school gym on her way home from work. She also told me that she used to use the machines but then developed tennis elbow and had to stop.

She could have developed her tennis elbow from using the machines since I don’t think you can get it filing papers and answering phones every day, but I could be wrong.  I am not a doctor by trade.  She seemed to be surprised to hear that the machines could have caused her injury and I’m quite sure she didn’t believe what I had to say after that due to the look on her face.   Here’s what I told her:

Machines are useful in certain situations.  Maybe you need to work on one muscle to strengthen it after an injury, you’re only interested in asthetics rather than function or you are too lazy to do some real physique changing exercise.  Machines only work one muscle a a time.  Doing these same movements every day with weight can cause the same overuse injuries you find in cashiers or tennis players.  Most machines are designed for one body type and although they are adjustable, they are rarely a good fit.  Most people really have no idea how to adjust them correctly and are afraid to ask gym staff how to use the equipment properly.  Also, all machine exercises are done sitting or lying down.  Not good for burning fat.

I like to train muscle movements.  Most movements in life do not occur from a seated position as all exercises are performed when using machines.  We are usually on our feet when we lift something off the ground.  We are standing when we lift something over our heads to put it away.  We use a large number of muscles and more than one muscle group when we do a variety of things throughout the day. 

Functional exercises will better enable you to squat without back pain, grab things out of a higher cabinet without hurting your shoulders and take groceries out of the trunk of the car without throwing your back out.  All important movements for day to day function.

Another benefit to using functional movements when training rather than isolation machines is the higher caloric burn you get while exercising this way.

Your workouts become more effective and more time efficient which means less time spent at the gym.  Most people are busy and when using isolation machines you will spend more time in the gym trying to hit every individual muscle instead of hitting all of them in as little as 6 exercises. 

So, although helpful in some cases, exercise machines are not always best for getting fit and lean fast.  For a free workout using only the best fat burning exercises fill out the form located at the top right side of this blog.


2 Responses to “Exercise Machines Not Always Best”

  1. Linda M. Ramos on August 19th, 2009 7:40 am

    I am currently using a reclining exercise bike to help with weight loss. I did 20 min a day for 5 days a week and lost about 7 lbs and I didn’t cut back on eating that week.. maybe have been a coincidence though. I have a hard time doing stand up exercising or even walking due to the fact that I weigh over 330lbs. What would you recommend for someone like me. walking not only kills my feet, my back tenses up really badly leaving me in alot of pain the rest of the day.. along with knee pains I get regularly.. I was using the bike to help with a pulled ligament last year. Biking regularly seems to strengthen it.

  2. Administrator on August 19th, 2009 8:16 am

    Hi Linda,

    Congratulations on getting started and your initial weight loss. If biking is feeling good, keep going with it. This is a great start.

    I would start adding in some weight bearing exercise with light weights, bands or body weight exercises modified for your current physical condition. As you get stronger and leaner, you can intensify the workouts, increase weights and watch the fat burn away.

    Keep me posted on your progress. You can join us at http://www.FitHomeschoolMoms.ning.com to get the encouragement and motivation to keep you going.

    Coach Angela

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