Do you need Gym Machines for your workout? You enter a gym and youʼre greeted by different types of gym machines and sometimes, it can be quite intimidating looking at these machines, let alone use them.
When people get intimidated, they tend to shy away from using things and prefer to do only what they are accustomed to, which is why more people would rather use free weights and machine-free exercises when they do their workout.
Most people prefer free weights and bodyweight exercises as these help our body to move freely and naturally. They can also do a workout at home or wherever they want to in order to stay fit.
However, what’s the purpose of using gym machines anyway? Gym machines are not there for display purposes, they’re there for a reason. But the question that we need to answer is, do you really need gym machines in your workout?
Even if you search online, chances are, opinion is divided when it comes to using gym machines during a workout. This is because we all have different bodies and levels of workout goals. Therefore, we need to ask ourselves whether we actually need specific gym machines or not.
In this article, we will look at the most popular gym machines and how they make an impact on your health and workout. This way, you can decide for yourself if it must be included in your workout or not. Since I have mentioned before, that we have different body types and workout needs.
In order to make it easier to understand, we will be looking at the benefits and risks of using different gym machines, as well as alternative things you can do in their place.
Seated Leg Extension Machine
BENEFITS: Strengthen your quadriceps.
RISKS: It puts excessive stress on the knees if not properly set up and may cause knee pain or injury.
ITʼS A MUST FOR YOUR WORKOUT IF: You want to isolate the quadriceps. However, it should be done in one of two ways: 1) Move at a slow speed using lightweight or 2) Move at a fast pace but with heavy weight. It was shown in a research from the University of Illinois that knee injuries occur the most when moving a medium speed and using medium weight.
ALTERNATIVE: Do step-ups, one-legged squats, and goblet squats for more natural movement.
Seated Leg Press Machine
BENEFITS: Strengthen your quadriceps, glutes, calves, and hamstrings.
RISKS: Injury on the spine if not properly set up.
ITʼS A MUST FOR YOUR WORKOUT IF: You want to train your legs without requiring a lot of stability. Itʼs best used by bodybuilders or anyone who want to strengthen their legs but have trouble doing squats because of previous knee injuries.
ALTERNATIVE: Body-Weight Squats or trap-bar deadlift
Seated Shoulder Press Machine
BENEFITS: Strengthen shoulders and triceps.
RISKS: Puts undue pressure on shoulders if used too often.
ITʼS A MUST FOR YOUR WORKOUT IF: You want to specifically target the shoulder muscles and triceps.
ALTERNATIVE: Medicine-ball throws or free weights.
Seated Behind-The-Neck Lat Pull-Down Machine
BENEFITS: Strengthen latissimus dorsi, upper back, biceps and shoulder girdle
RISKS: Might cause shoulder joint injury and damage rotator cuff if your shoulders are not flexible.
ITʼS A MUST FOR YOUR WORKOUT IF: You want to do pull-ups, this is where you should start. You can build your back muscles well and faster.
ALTERNATIVE: Incline Pull-ups
Seated Chest Fly Machine
BENEFITS: Strengthen chest and shoulders.
RISKS: Places excessive stress on shoulder joints if done in an unstable position.
ITʼS A MUST FOR YOUR WORKOUT IF: You want to get things done in terms of pec training and humeral adduction. Use this if you want to have solid and sharp pecs.
ALTERNATIVE: Dumbbell bench presses
Seated Hip Abductor Machine
BENEFITS: Strengthen outer thighs.
RISKS: May put undue pressure on your spine if done with excessive weight.
ITʼS A MUST FOR YOUR WORKOUT IF: You want to work out and isolate small stabilizer muscles on your butt (abductors) and inner thighs (adductors).
ALTERNATIVE: Lateral-Band Walks or Single-leg Squats.
Roman Chair Sit-Up
BENEFITS: Strengthen abdominals and hip flexors.
RISKS: People with previous and current back issues might get injured if not done properly as it puts too much pressure on the lower back.
ITʼS A MUST FOR YOUR WORKOUT IF: You want to work out your six-pack harder than body-weight runches can.
Seated Chest Press
BENEFITS: Strengthen chest, biceps, triceps
RISKS: If not done properly, it can cause lopsided muscles where one arm is weaker than the other.
ITʼS A MUST FOR YOUR WORKOUT IF: You want to strengthen your chest area which may be required if you are active in sports that require blocking or pushing people such as football and wrestling.
ALTERNATIVE: Free weights.
Loaded Standing Calf Raise
BENEFITS: Strengthen Calves.
RISKS: Might cause back pain if not done properly.
ITʼS A MUST FOR YOUR WORKOUT IF: You want to avoid plantar fasciitis or the stabbing heel pain that often occurs in the morning.
ALTERNATIVE: Bodyweight standing calf raise
The good side about free weights and bodyweight exercises is that you can do your workout at home.
All the gym machines can have an alternative or a counterpart exercise you can do so you have an option whether to do your workout with or without them. It may not really isolate specific parts as precisely as a machine, but if youʼre not really going to do it for bodybuilding purposes, then you have the choice to not include gym machines in your workout.
Based on the information above, gym machines have their good sides but if theyʼre not properly used or if they are used excessively, they may lead to serious injuries. Not all exercise machines are always effective or safe so using these machines also require us to be careful and have professional assistance prior to using them.
A plus to safety when we use gym machines is that the weight is calculated and measured precisely and most machines have fail-safes in case you accidentally lost your grip unlike if you are doing your workout using free weights.
Basically, some information and articles online may lead others to believe that we need to abandon exercise machines because deadlifts, squats and other forms of exercise are already enough to develop our muscles. However, gym machines excel at precisely pinpointing what deadlifts can miss. And if we avoid exercise machines, we would be ignoring equipment that has been made to give us the results we want to see.
Another reason for using gym machines is they can isolate specific muscle groups. Therefore, you can still work out even if you have an injury or if youʼre trying to prevent injuries. Because of this isolation, your muscles can adjust and adapt to the level of load they can handle, rather than risk putting pressure on muscle groups that you do not wish to get affected that much.
Although gym machines present certain risks if not used properly, they wonʼt instantly cause injury. Itʼs the manner by which we use them that determines whether they would help us in our workout or pose a risk to our health and safety.
In conclusion, weʼre not actually required to use gym machines as part of our workout but there are some instances where a gym machine would help target specific areas of our bodies better than a non-machine workout.
Therefore, the need for gym machines is based on whoʼs going to use them and their purpose.
If you plan to really target and strengthen specific muscle groups for professional and sports purposes, it is a must to use machines but if youʼre just targeting to be fit, you can do so without the gym machines.
So if youʼve just started to workout, you can do so without the aid of exercise machines then, later on, incorporate these gym machines as you progress and start to improve areas that are harder to target.