The second type or resistance training we will look at this week is fixed path resistance machines.Weight machines can be a good choice, especially if you’re just getting started with strength training. In fact, many beginners start out using machines because:
- They’re supportive. Most machines provide support, which is great for people who need help when learning new exercises. It can also be good for people rehabilitating injuries or those who want to lift heavy weights without a spotter.
- They’re easy to use. Because most machines work on a fixed path and have instructions and diagrams posted, it’s easier to use good form.
- They save time. It usually doesn’t take as much time to change weights on machines as it would for many free weight exercises.
- They’re less intimidating. Trying to figure out what to do with a bunch of dumbbells can seem impossible. With machines, you know exactly what muscles you’re working and how to do the exercise correctly.
On the other hand, machines do have disadvantages such as:
- They’re too supportive. Because you have so much support, you use fewer muscle groups at the same time. This means you burn less calories and work the body in a less functional way. This is the opposite of free weights as we saw in the last blog.
- They’re limited. Most machines offer one exercise for one part of the body, which means having to use multiple machines for a total body workout. If you want to get going at home this has the implication of greater expense, as you will have to buy either a series of different machines for the different muscle groups or a multi-gym style machine. Although quite effective these generally tend to be a compromise as they do lots of different things well but do not specialise as much as single machines.
- They don’t allow you to work on weaknesses. Many machines require you to use both arms or legs to move the weight, so if one side is stronger than the other, that side will in all likelihood do more work than the weaker side.
- They don’t allow the body to work naturally. Because many machines work on a fixed path, there’s not much room for working the body throughout different planes of motion, so they are less effective for twisting movements that might be effective functional and sports specific training (polo, racket sports, golf, etc..
Of course, not all weight machines are created equally and many gyms now offer a variety of machines including plate-loaded, free motion and cable machines which can offer more variety and more functional training. These types of machines often have a higher learning curve and require more skill and coordination than the average machine. Sometimes with personal training at homea combination of the two methods can be really effective, so the client would do 2 sessions at home with their personal trainer and then go to the gym or leasure centre for a session on more stable machines on their own; this allows them to do more resistance while not under expert supervision.