Are Weight Training Machines Really Worth it?

For the many years I worked in the Bally’s and Gold’s Gym worlds I noticed how incredible dependent on machines everyone was. The facilities were wall to wall equipment so I guess it only made sense but I noticed the incredible amount of people who used the weight training machines as opposed to going to the Free Weight area. This was for two main reasons in my opinion. The first being that people were intimidated by the free weight area and the people working out in it. The second is that the machines are just easier.

That to me is the ultimate drawback to the machines, they are just too easy. First to many of them put you into a seated position. We have said this many times in our discussions but why would you need to be strong in a seated position. I get this if maybe you are in a wheelchair but if you have normal use of your legs, do not train in a seated position or at least do it significantly less. When do our bodies need to be strong in a seated position?

The second major drawback would be the fact that they isolate muscles. I realize that this has been popular for a long time to isolate muscles in an effort to strengthen and tone or define the muscle. Again like we have mentioned in many other posts, can you name a time when you need to isolate using a single muscle in your day? I try to just use my tricep when brushing my teeth but I inevitably fail every time. Our bodies are not designed to isolate muscles. We are a complex machine and the muscles are designed to work in total unison with each other to promote perfect posture and proper movement of the skeletal system.

If you are currently using machines as your only source of strength training I highly encourage you to get off of them and go back to the basics of just using your own body weight. You could also talk to a qualified trainer who can help you become less intimidated by the Free Weight area. machines are not designed to improve the overall efficiency of your body so to me that alone means do not do them. There are some that can be beneficial to you in various circumstances but overall, they will cause more harm than good.

If you need some examples of good weight training moves using dumbbells and free weights, here is a video from our Exercise of the Week Program that can get you started.

2 Comments on this post


  1. coach S. said:

    What are the best kinds of machines to use that promote muscular efficiency? I would think that non-seated cable row machines are good since they offer free movement of the joint, so you can train in multiple angles.

    November 23rd, 2009 at 10:33 pm
  2. Scott said:

    These are decent. From a pure machine standpoint I like the assisted Chin-up/Dip Machines. Also Some of the Seated Row machines can be effective, especially if you stand instead of sit.

    November 23rd, 2009 at 10:35 pm


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