Machines are bad, there I said it again. How many of us join health clubs or purchase expensive home exercise equipment under the notion that the machine will protect our back, make the exercise easier or guarantee your results quicker. In sports and life for that matter if you are sitting on your butt or laying flat on your back you lost! , so why do we insist on exercising that way. We spend way too much of our existence sedentary, sitting, driving, typing, talking etc..
Has anyone noticed that the commonality of back problems from doing nothing (a traumatic), joint replacements and other injuries of non-traumatic origins continue to escalate?. Did anyone ever put two and two together and realize that maybe the way we have and are exercising is precipitating the problem. My last article went into some specifics on the traumatic forces that the joints experience using common machines. Research continues to emerge validating that most machines place the body and joints in such horrible positions that injury is inevitable.
So what is a health conscious exerciser to do, well, life moves so we better learn to exercise that way. Try performing your current exercise routine standing. That's right, chest presses, shoulder presses, arm exercises, rows all performed standing. This will enable you to engage all of your 'core' muscles, work on balance and lower extremity joint stability.
When was the last time you performed a standing squat, on one leg, on a ball or foam disk? What if you tried training the whole workout using an adjustable cable machine, standing?. Wait, I said machine, yes some machines or good. There are a few pieces out there that I like. If it has an adjustable cable or articulating arms, that we like. Why, simple it forces you to stand and that engages almost all of the core muscles, and as I've stated if you are standing you are using many more muscles than if your were sitting down. Machines that do not force you to remain in a set joint position and allow you to move as biomechanics dictate will by default give you a better and safer workout.
Lunges are one of the best exercises to do, anyone can argue for or against this, but combined with proper hip and leg stability / flexibility they are among the best. Try combining with shoulder presses, abduction, scaptions. You can also combine with bicep curls, torso rotations, stabilization movements, as you can tell the combinations are almost endless.
Dumbbells, almost beyond the scope of this article the amount of exercises you can perform. A ball, BOSU tm, floor and an adjustable bench is all you need.
Bands, yes almost as good as cables, they travel better and the exercises are almost endless. One word on bands, they are easier in the beginning and harder at the end of the movement. This changes the firing of the muscle slightly but they are still an excellent adjunct for fitness, and yes they force you to stand while using them.
What about the floor, generally there is very little floor space in a gym, got to fill it with machines. For the last few years the popularity of Pilates, Yoga, Tai Chi and other movement techniques have become popular. Thanks to the baby boomers looking for alternatives for fitness these regimens have become mainstream. They all require a balance of breathing, flexibility, strength, postural awareness and muscular endurance. The message with these techniques is performed by themselves they are good, add strength training and aerobic conditioning and the package is complete.
Does this mean never train on a machine, absolutely not, many still provide a good isolation workout and for some with medical conditions machines allow a degree of safety. My point is that so many of us have spent so much time training wrong and placing our bodies in bad positions that we need to spend much of our time correcting the imbalances and injury that are already there. I tell a lot of my clients that people do not feel there arteries clogging but they sure know when the crushing chest pain starts. We spend much of our lives denying that injuries, both musculoskeletal and internal, will never happen to us, yet we consistently do things to encourage that damage to occur. Let's change how we think and exercise or you may end up laying flat on you back.
Bryan Fass, BA, ATCL, CSCS, NREMT-P
Bryan Fass holds a bachelors in sports medicine, is a Certified / Licensed Athletic Trainer, Nationally Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, Nationally Registered Paramedic. Bryan is also a highly skilled soft tissue and Myofascial Release therapist, And has over 10 years of experience in clinical and fitness settings. Specialties in Spine and postural re-education.
Precision Fitness is an advanced personal fitness, corrective exercise, post-rehabilitation, and sports performance facility with locations in Cornelius and Mooresville.