calibro said"when you walk into a gym, or "gymnasium" as they're known on the streets, you'll find three distinct areas: a "cardio area," where boring people are doing things I don't even care about; a free weights area, where people are doing exercise; and a fitness machine area, where crippled people are doing physical rehab. "
this guy sounds like a real prize winner... and he completely ignores that free weights, though very useful, only have a limited range of exercises, and they're particularly inefficient for legs (where you need a machine or at least a weight-bearing machine to do many exercises, especially at a weight beyond your body weight).
he sounds like one of those guys who brags about changing the oil in his car because to pay someone to do it would be a pussy thing to do.
This runs counter to everything I've learned from my trainer. Squats and other free weight exercises are much better for your legs and help to stabilize your core (free ab workout!). I've been warned that if not properly performed, doing legs on some of those machines can do irreparable harm to your back. I won't ever use them.
that danger is true of most exercises, and that's more true off machines. if anything, many leg machines prevent the sort of movement you're talking about because machines usually restrict bodily movement to isolate one area. what you seem to be referring to is doing leg presses, squats (with a barbell and weights), and dead lifts, which isn't even the type of machine he's talking about.
secondly, you'll be pressed to find most people who say doing dead lifts and weighted squats are too dangerous to be worth doing. if anything, those are actually the best exercises you can do for your body. it depends on you're training goal, but unless you have some sort of injury or bodily limitation, i'd fire any personal trainer who said don't do dead lifts.
I'm not goading you into a fight/argument, and I'm honestly not sure from your response if you're agreeing or disagreeing with me. My trainer has particular disdain for seated leg presses, which people tend to overload with weight and thereby risk serious damage to their back and spinal cord. I DO disagree with your earlier point about free weights having a limited range of exercises for legs, as there are so many options to hit just about every part of the leg. Beyond squatting with a barbell, you can do deadlifts (which you mentioned), split-squats with dumbbells, lunges with dumbbells, one-legged squats with or without dumbbells, seated calf-raises with plates etc etc.
As has been posted earlier, there may be a use for machines for some people. I've been told that targeting a specific muscle part with a machine can be counterproductive and risk damage, but that's one trainer's opinion (albeit, one who is certified with a degree in sports medicine and a body that I would KILL to have). IMO machines should be used by gym newbies, and people who are a bit more advanced should focus on free weights. But to each his own...do what works for you.
i'm not disagreeing or agreeing as much as commenting to specific points as i see them.
having a disdain from a seated leg press is a very different statement than being against leg machines. so to say your trainer is against leg machines based on that isn't necessarily true if that's all he objects to.
as for machines being unsafe, squatting with a barbell is much safer in a machine-based cage.
in reference to dead lifts, dead lifts have a giant potential to wreck all sorts of your body... squats and dead lifts will do damage with poor form, stance, too much weight.... it's not to say a bicep curl can't do great damage either, and people probably injure themselves from bicep curls much more than they do dead lifts because they think of curls as nothing to pay attention to, but the weight and possibilities for range of damage in something like a squat is greater. still, you even admit doing them.
i'm not saying you can't do a lot with free weights, but a lot of people ignore the fact that the legs have many muscles to them... hello hip flexors. if you're going to do something like work on hip ad/bduction, you really need a machine.
and i wouldn't go just by trainers, especially the pretty boys. i worked at a gym as a cycling instructor. trainer certification is laughable, and many trainers are fit for reasons that deal with great genes. unless your guy has a masters in a related field, he's not impressive on those qualifications. i still find it hard to believe the shit trainers at my gym spouted.
and as for newbies and seated leg presses... i warm up with about 500 pounds, don't even start feeling it until 800ish. if you have a better idea of how to get an 800-pound equivalency from free weights in some standing form exercise without crushing my body, i'd be interested in hearing it.