The advantages and disadvantages of using weight machines
You’ll find weight machines in every gym, but some people find them really complicated. This article explains what these machines are, how they work and what their advantages are.
Weight machines are easy to operate. You start by adjusting your seat and then push or pull on a bar or set of handles. The handles are attached to a chain, cable, or lever that is attached to a stack of rectangular-shaped weights, weighing between 5 and 50 pounds. To lift 20 pounds, simply insert a metal peg through the hole in the 30 pound weight.
Here are some of the reasons why you should use weight machines in your training:
- Are you sure. They are ideal for beginners because if you run out of strength during an exercise you can let go without fear of a heavy weight falling on your body.
- They require little balance or coordination. Most weight machines hold your body in the correct position unlike “free weights.” For example, if you do an overhead press on a weight machine, you just sit in a chair and push the handles up, but with a barbell you not only have to push the bar up, but also stay stable and balanced at the same time.
- You can work on specific muscles. Traditional weight machines allow you to focus on one muscle, which is great if you’re trying to correct a specific weakness. An example of this is when you want to strengthen the hamstrings or the muscles on the back of the thigh. There is a weight machine that holds your body in position while you curl your legs and target your hamstrings. If you use free weights to perform the same task, you’ll probably end up working your front thigh and butt muscles as well.
- Quick workouts. With weight machines you can set up the exercise much faster than with free weights. Simply adjust the seat (if necessary) and put the metal peg through a hole instead of removing free weights from a rack and sliding them on and off a bar. Additionally, gyms and health clubs often have weight machines clustered together, making it quick and easy to move between them and allowing you to complete a full-body workout in about 20 minutes.
- It can be boring. After a while, you and your muscles will probably get bored with using machines. So mix in some free weights after a while and learn how to strengthen the same muscles with different exercises.
- It does not adapt to all bodies. Most machines are designed for people who are between 5 feet 4 inches and 6 feet 2 inches tall. So if it is outside of this range, the machine may feel uncomfortable. If that’s the case, try another machine or choose free weights to target the same muscle group.
- Isolate each muscle group. This can be an advantage (see above) but it can be a disadvantage because this is not how our muscles work in our daily lives. In everyday life, our muscles work in groups, so it makes sense to work them the same way in the gym.
- You can’t take them with you. If you’re going on a business trip or vacation, you won’t be able to take weight machines with you, so pack some free weights and you’ll have no excuse not to exercise!
Hopefully, after reading this article, you’re not intimidated by weight machines, convinced that the pros outweigh the cons, and are ready to incorporate them into your workouts.