10 workout machines to avoid?

  • Squarejaw

    Posts: 1035

    Jan 07, 2008 7:36 PM GMT
    Can any of our informed trainers comment on this?
    http://health.msn.com/fitness/articlepage.aspx?cp-documentid=100184337&GT1=10815
    I know some people here will come out against almost all machines on general principle, but I'm more curious about the very specific dangers ascribed to these particular machines. Is the writer correct?
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jan 07, 2008 7:54 PM GMT
    there goes my workout
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jan 07, 2008 8:05 PM GMT
    Looks like we have two posts on the same topic, see this thread,... http://www.realjock.com/topic/78004/

    I'll repost anyway...

    These machines comprise a huge part of my workout. I also noticed this is from Men's Health. Though a great mag, they are really bad about trying to hook readers with these types of articles.

    I think I would chalk this one up to a clever attempt at some counter intuitive workout advice aimed at getting the attention of readers, without offering real evidence or alternatives that offer an equal workout.

    I don't think doing incline pull ups will give me the same result as pulling 220 on my lat pull downs - Though I never pull behind the back.

    There are some valid points about proper form and monitoring how much you lift. However, I like to excersice outside of my normal range of motion in order to work certain muscles. We may not move in ways that are described in the article, but as a species, we have historically moved in very different ways. From eary days of hunting and gathering to a time when there was far more manual labor, humans are designed to moved in a variety of ways. Why should we limit our excercises to adhere to the desk chair range of motion of modern times?

    A machine we should rid? That neck press machine. God that thing is a nasty beast. That will screw your spine before a leg press.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jan 07, 2008 8:32 PM GMT
    I agree with a lot of what is said in the article. The only time I use machines with clients is if they're new to exercise and don't know how to properly stabilize their joints. As soon as I feel they are ready, I transition them to free weights (I do also use the cable crossover). While you may not be able to lift as much with free weights, they will make you stronger in a more real-world setting (rarely does the body work in isolation). You'll also be working harder because a lot more of the body's musculature comes into play. That means greater caloric expenditure and improved stabilization (less injury potential). I like to think of the body as one big muscle as opposed to segments. I am not a body builder--nor are my clients--so this philosophy works out. Body builders have a different take on this.
    Another benefit to integrating more free weights is that there are sometimes long waits for machines which can make the workout last much longer than necessary.
    Finally, I just don't see the point in sitting down when exercising. The vast majority of gym-goers work in offices which means a lot of sitting all day long. Why would you go to the gym to practice more sitting when you're already pretty good at it?
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jan 07, 2008 8:46 PM GMT
    This article was published in Best Life Magazine a few months ago, and I posted the link here somewhere before. If you've been doing the Strong & Lean workout, you'll see the things mentioned there repeated in this article. I can tell you it works from that standpoint.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jan 07, 2008 8:49 PM GMT
    wOW iS THERE ANY MACHINE THEY LEFT OUT?? i MEAN I KNOW THAT free weight ARE SUPOSED TO BE Better but I don't think that those particular machines do so much bad to you
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jan 07, 2008 8:54 PM GMT
    [color=COLOR GOES HERE]See I always thought there was something wrong with those machines since they were very uncomfortable to use...now I know. Luckily for us we still have free weights and the cable cross machines.icon_biggrin.gif
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jan 07, 2008 9:03 PM GMT
    how do some topics end up on the front page where everyone can see them and others dont? this isnt the first time is start a thread and it just disappears, lol. oh well.
  • Squarejaw

    Posts: 1035

    Jan 08, 2008 12:12 AM GMT
    Still wondering if anyone can confirm or debunk the specific criticisms of any of these machines. Anyone?
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jan 08, 2008 12:24 AM GMT
    I read the article a while ago that was more extensive. Most of the issues of damage/danger were supposition and not based on specific testing. The original article was more about the fact that individual machines were too specific on muscles by working only one or one group of muscles that didn't coorelate to the 'real world'. They did qualify that they were fine for bodybuilding when muscle specific training was warranted. The other issue mentioned was the fact of 'misuse' or bad form on these machines.
    Unfortunately, I didn't save the article, because I found the methodology flawed and the information a mix of facts with weak speculation.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jan 08, 2008 1:38 AM GMT
    Well, I'm not a trainer, and I'm speaking from the POV of someone recovering from a back injury, but here goes.

    Both my physical therapist and my former trainer (who was working with me post-PT) told me the gym machine most likely to injure my lower back was the one for weighted back extensions.

    I asked my trainer about using the leg press, but she had me do body-weight squats for exactly the reasons given in the article. She did put me on the lat pulldown machine (but no behind-the-neck movements) and the assisted pull-up machine (which rocks).

    Everything else (excluding cardio) was with free weights.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jan 08, 2008 2:25 AM GMT
    I do agree with Squarejaw some of the machines in gyms are limiting and almost useless. I found this out years ago when I first started bodybuilding. I would always look for the really built guys, and watch their routines and workouts. A lot of times I would ask them questions and they would all say pretty much the same things, stay with free weights. Proof was they were right.

    I only use the machines if I want to do Static Contraction exercises, and isolate one muscle.
    Interesting article you brought up. Thats why I always say, "Always make your workouts count."
    Great workouts
    Joe
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jan 08, 2008 3:07 AM GMT
    Consumer Reports, Feb. 2008, examines a bunch of exercise machines advertised on infomercials etc., including such gems as the AB Lounge XL, Ab-Doer Xtreme, etc, and gave bad reviews to all but the Urban Rebounder, a $150 mini-trampoline, which looks like a fun way to get some aerobics in.

    They also review treadmills and ellipticals and Health Clubs in separate articles.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jan 08, 2008 3:49 AM GMT
    What who ever wrote the article needs to understand is that different people work out for different reasons. I have a large number of clients that are 65 and older and some who even walk with canes and some with wheelchairs. There's no way that they'd be able to do half of the exercises that the writer suggests doing. I understand where he is coming from, but in the same breath understand that the exercises that he suggests are simply just not feasable for people that are handicapped, obese, or just have some physical limitations. I think the writer should better specify what audience he is trying to reach. I'm not going to have a client of mine do one legged body squats if they're recovering from knee surgery!
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jan 08, 2008 6:35 AM GMT
    Squarejaw saidStill wondering if anyone can confirm or debunk the specific criticisms of any of these machines. Anyone?


    I'll give some of it a stab....

    1. Seated Leg Extension
    It is true that this puts shearing loads on the knee, and is contra-indicated if there is any weakness or instability in this area, but there are times when it can be used safely and reasonably. In fact, there are some people that can use this when other forms of exercise for the quads are unacceptable.

    2. Seated Military Press
    Most seated presses are engineered to encourage too low a starting position. You can get away with it if you're high-school age, more or less, but it's far safer, and necessary for older trainees, to keep your elbows no lower than your shoulders when doing this sort of press.

    3. Seated Lat Pull-Down (Behind the Neck)
    Behind the neck = BAD! Can cause rotator and other problems. But a Lat Bar Pull-Down machine in general is not the issue - just that one exercise. The pull-down machine can be used for other things which are helpful.

    4. Seated Pec Deck
    Some pec decks require you to have your forearms pointing up - so that your arm is rotated when using the machine. That's not so good. But many pec decks use rollers and you can put your arms in a 'barrel-hug' position which alleviates a lot of the problems. Better still are the Pec Fly machines - but even they can be used well or badly.

    5. Seated Hip Abductor Machine

    Bull. The Abductor/Adductor can strengthen lateral stability in people with compromised hips and knees. It's used by physical therapists and in a rehabilitation mode frequently. Do you want to go for max - all out - go heavy or go home - movements? No. But it is still useful.

    6. Seated Rotation Machine

    For once, I agree with them. This machine is a spine-grinder and should be avoided.

    7. Seated Leg Press

    Again, the problem here is form. In the seated, as well as the lying leg press, the hips should never flex to the point that the pelvis starts to tilt. The spine should be stable and supported.

    It is worth noting that the seated press is inferior to the lying leg press as the poundage increases relative to bodyweight, because it's hard to stay firmly planted in the sled.

    8. Squats Using Smith Machine

    Agreed. Smith Squats can force an unnatural path. For users well under max lifting range, you can probably slide by - but don't go for broke this way, 'cause broke is how you might end up.

    9. Roman Chair Back Extension

    Agreed. Don't load the back when it is curved!

    10. Roman Chair Sit-Up
    Again, a performance problem. Most people don't curl up the body on a Roman Chair - they lift the whole torso using the psoas.... You can do just as well with an ab bench or doing frog kicks or v-ups.


    I hope this is helpful...

    Joey
  • EricLA

    Posts: 3461

    Jan 08, 2008 6:48 AM GMT
    Well, I owe the body I have to several of the machines listed, so some of them work to some extent.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jan 08, 2008 8:28 AM GMT
    My trainer stays away from most of these. You got to remember these machines were made and marketed at a time when people needed some graphic motivation to support their workout fantasies. And a big empty gym needs to have workout symbols on the floor to sell memberships. Stuff has changed and I know of a couple gyms that have moved out machines to make floor space for pilates and yoga. ( yeah no equipment required). I sure wish they would bring back the lat machine tho.
  • art_smass

    Posts: 960

    Jan 09, 2008 6:22 PM GMT
    I agree with Joey on every single count. Here's my two cents on these machines:

    1. Seated Leg Extension
    Many guys overload this machine and kick up the weights, arching their back and slamming back against the seat. Lower weight and a controlled, fluid move should make this move much safer. I avoid it, anyway, in favor of a dozen other quad exercises I do off of the machines.

    2. Seated Military Press
    The pathway on many of these machines is very unnatural. Nevertheless, a lot of guys do shoulder presses with dumbbells using the same pathway.

    3. Seated Lat Pull-Down (Behind the Neck)
    "Craning" the neck during any exercise can lead to cervical disk problems. The weight load exacerbates this problem.

    4. Seated Pec Deck
    A lot of guys also "crane" their necks on this machine, trying to assist with their shoulder muscles in an unnatural path.

    5. Seated Hip Abductor Machine
    In a controlled movement with a limited range of motion, I don't believe these machines are all that bad.

    6. Seated Rotation Machine
    A horrible device.

    7. Seated Leg Press
    Joey said it all.

    8. Squats Using Smith Machine
    I know tons of guys who complain incessantly about knee and lower back pain, but load this machine up like they're in one of those strongest man competitions.

    9. Roman Chair Back Extension
    Okay if you're fourteen, lean and limber with no pre-existing back injury.

    10. Roman Chair Sit-Up
    This isn't the worst machine on the list, but too many guys seem to power through this exercise, working the wrong muscles and allowing momentum to take them through the move.
  • Squarejaw

    Posts: 1035

    Jan 09, 2008 6:35 PM GMT
    Thanks guys. I appreciate the info.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jan 09, 2008 9:15 PM GMT
    FYI...a brand new research report from the National Strength and Conditioning Association found that those using free form machines (cable crossover, etc.) experienced greater strength gains than those using fixed motion machines.
  • fitnfunmich

    Posts: 181

    Jan 09, 2008 10:08 PM GMT
    This is a really good thread--very interesting and informative, and also practical. Just a few comments: I think machines can be useful if you are a total newbie and need to develop a bit of strength before moving on to better, free-weight exercises; or if you are recovering from an injury. (Provided they are done correctly, which is really the bigger problem anyway.)

    Joey gave some really outstanding advice.

    One point: I'm intrigued by the notion of "natural" vs "unnatural" movements regarding weight training. If you think about it, many of the things we do in the gym do not translate into the real world. For example, the bench press. (In real life a person does not lie on their back in order to push something up.)

    So the greater issue here is should we rethink many of our core, standard exercises--even the ones with free-weights???
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jun 28, 2008 1:42 AM GMT
    mscott79 saidSee I always thought there was something wrong with those machines since they were very uncomfortable to use...now I know. Luckily for us we still have free weights and the cable cross machines.icon_biggrin.gif
  • GQjock

    Posts: 11649

    Jun 28, 2008 6:22 AM GMT
    Some very good advice from just about everybody
    and very succinctly well-put by my namesake Joey too

    The article basically was true
    and it brings up the negatives to using any weighted machines
    I am not saying that machines are bad and that we should stay away from them but you have to know that they all force you're muscles and joints to work and stress on their terms
    the axis of movement is determined by the machine you're using not really by the muscles and joints you want to work
    By choosing the right machines and setting it correctly
    you can get a pretty good approximation but it will never be entirely perfect
    that's why the old fashioned pec deck machines where you have to grab a bar and push with your forearms as well
    almost always do more harm than good
    leg extension machines too... you can do much better with regular lunges

  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jul 02, 2008 1:07 PM GMT
    fitnfunmich saidThis is a really good thread--very interesting and informative, and also practical. Just a few comments: I think machines can be useful if you are a total newbie and need to develop a bit of strength before moving on to better, free-weight exercises; or if you are recovering from an injury. (Provided they are done correctly, which is really the bigger problem anyway.)

    Joey gave some really outstanding advice.

    One point: I'm intrigued by the notion of "natural" vs "unnatural" movements regarding weight training. If you think about it, many of the things we do in the gym do not translate into the real world. For example, the bench press. (In real life a person does not lie on their back in order to push something up.)

    So the greater issue here is should we rethink many of our core, standard exercises--even the ones with free-weights???


    I use the cable crossover machines a lot........if you are inventive, you can duplicate practically any movement used in the real world...the motion is fluid and smooth. Personal trainers have complimented me and told me they are going to incorporate some of my moves into their teaching....it was a nice compliment.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jul 02, 2008 8:16 PM GMT
    Regarding the sitting leg extension.. I have knee pain and do 180lbs leg extensions six days a week. I maxed out my machine at 210lbs and then backed off and just do more reps, but MUCH slower; about 3-6 seconds on the negative.

    The pain used to be a lot worse, I think it was because of the speed I was doing my exercises. It wasn't limited to my knees, but also my elbows and shoulders (I couldn't do any shoulder presses). I've slowed down the negatives a lot and try to limit ranges (how far my elbows drop on bench/shoulder press).

    What's more likely to aggravate my knee pain: leg press or leg extension?

    If the weight it self is more the issue, can I continue with less weight and more reps as I have been doing?