The Danger Of Machine Training
Just like anything there is a SMART WAY to do exercise to increase muscle and strength, and then there is the “DUMB WAY” to do the same thing!
Unfortunately there are more people using the dumb approach. The reason is mainly due to clever marketing and poor education as to how we actually move. When it is explained to you, it makes perfect sense but just like Nutrition we have been conditioned into believing absolute garbage. (Eg Saturated Fat.) So today I hope to open your mind and get you into the light as to why the traditional approach to strength training is so inefficient and even dangerous!
Weight training machines have done a great job of introducing many people to the gym in a safe and simple training environment. They allow individuals to “safely” and confidently begin a resistance-training program with little instruction and a feeling of security. Many gyms love this as they do not require staff to even show you how to use the equipment, it is that easy! Many of the people who would have been sitting on the couch are now active, which is a good thing, but this approach while it seems safer is actually a disaster waiting to happen.
For starters their progression potential is limited with a machine based training program for there really is no way of progressing. And if not monitored there is also potential for future injury! Machines focus mainly on isolated, large muscle movements and work much like a robot. Basically they are training you to move like a robot!
Machines do not encourage stabilizing muscles and nervous system interaction to execute the movement. Machine training is based on bodybuilding. And the objective of bodybuilding is one thing – “to look good”.
Function, coordination, movement and athleticism are sacrificed to just look good in a mirror. This attempt to magnify muscle mass typically involves locking in joints from both ends, isolating the muscle and then overloading it with enough resistance to make it burn and, ultimately fail as the muscle reaches the point of fatigue. The result of constant workouts using this principle is usually sore, stiff, tired primary muscles that will recover, grow and get stronger while the ignored, but also under utilized antagonist and stabilizer muscles are not stimulated enough to do the same. The end result is muscle imbalance, restricted range of motion, poor stabilizer strength and endurance, connective tissue that is not prepared to support the new muscle size and strength, and ultimately, a ticking time bomb for injury. In a nutshell you are weaker not stronger!
A classic example of this is where someone can push 300kg on a leg press but barely able to lift their own bodyweight with a lunge or a squat! In life we never use movements like leg press, leg curl or leg extension but we use movements like lunges and squats all the time!
Machine Training Ruins The Athlete
There is no focus on movement or skills and abilities needed for real life situations at work, home and definitely not the sporting arena. It baffles me that some professional sporting teams still use this garbage. Anybody who plays sports at a high level would know just how important it is to work on injury prevention, balance, agility and general movement skills for increased performance. None of these skills are used when you sit on machines.
What About Older Adults?
Again another good question as this is usually what is recommended for Older Adults. Even by many so called Experts such as Exercise Physiologists, Doctors and various health therapists. Why? Because it is the belief that is safer. But let me ask you this. If an older person is having difficulty with balance and is a real falls risk, will I improve that lack of balance by sitting them down a machine that does all the work for them? No it will not is the right answer. In fact it will make them worse.
Using a strength method to make someone more coordinated and balanced is like trying to tell me 1+1=9! To improve balance and coordination you need to use balance and coordination skills and exercises. It really is that simple. Does it need to be carefully executed and designed to make it safe? Absolutely! But people must get in their head that we are humans designed to move using our legs and arms together. The problems many of us face are in the standing position and only in the standing position can you change things effectively.
I hope this helps to open your mind to the world of exercise and why we must spend our time focusing on how to move standing up. If you can continue to do this for the rest of your life you will be able to do many exciting things right up until your older years without pain and fear.