Don't Get Stuck on the Machines!


Last week, we talked about training to become comfortable with the uncomfortable. Pushing ourselves above and beyond what we think we’re capable of doing is where change is made. In addition to pushing ourselves further and moving faster, we have to remember that our bodies are made to move freely in space.

The gym is full of machines and implements which allow us to overload positions and build full-body strength by individually targeting specific muscle groups. But we have to be cautious. The weight we lift on a leg extension machine doesn’t matter if we can’t also use our quadriceps strength in combination with our hamstrings and glutes to walk up and down stairs.

As we train in the gym, we have to train our bodies in similar situations as to those we encounter outside of the gym. Instead of only performing leg extensions, make sure we’re also including exercises such as step-ups and lunge variations. The Bulgarian split squat is an advanced lunge variation which targets the quadriceps, similar to the leg extension, while also including the hamstrings, glutes, core, and other stabilizing muscles which are not used in a machine leg extension.

These compound, free weight exercises may not be where we start, but it can be an achievable goal for anyone. The machines are a tool, as with any other implement in the gym. By relying solely on machines, over time, we may find strength lacking in stabilizing and core musculature. But by including the machines as part of a larger system, we see a balanced program, sure to progress anyone toward their goals. Combining the use of these tools will create a well-rounded program.

Don’t know where to start? Would you like help designing a program? Ask a trainer today or hop into a group exercise class! Check out the latest schedules for both Belle Square and Riverside Center here.

Key Word: Machines

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