When choosing the best way to spend their minutes at the gym, experts often take a hard step on machines in favor of exercising with body weights or free weights. And it’s not really shocking: most of what we learn about fitness equipment is that they suck.
“Most of the time, exercise machines work with only one body part or muscle group at a time. And with everything we’ve learned about fitness, we know it’s not better to use your time,” he explains. trainer David Carson, CSCS, trainer and trainer from Nike in the Sweat Working training app. “In this climate of fitness – where we are taught to do more work or use as many parts of the body in the shortest time as possible – exercise machines don’t necessarily fit the equation.”
Since the leg and arm machines at the gym are inherently stable and have one (or a few, at most) fixed movements, you also don’t use supporting muscles to keep your body and weight stable, adds trainer Laura Arndt, CSCS, CEO of Matriarc, a pre and post-natal conditioning app. For example, doing a standing bicep will force you to engage your legs and core while bending over a bicep machine to keep most of the work on your upper body. (See also: How to create the perfect circuit workout)
And while gym machines look foolproof, you can still get hurt if you use them badly. “Machines need attention to detail in terms of seat configurations and weight. Using a machine in repetitive movements in the wrong configuration or with the wrong weight can cause injuries and damage joints,” she adds.
Also, when using these leg and arm machines at the gym, you spend a lot of time sitting. If you do a seated exercise and then spend your rest interval relaxing on the phone, your workout will become quite inactive. (And isn’t that the opposite of what you want to do during a workout?)
But before you convince yourself to cancel all the gym’s training machines, consider these seven jewels that deserve a little love – and a place in your exercise routine.
1. Lat pull down
The strong back helps you stay longer, reduce the risk of injury and look seriously sexy in a strapless dress.
“You’ll find a suspended machine at any gym in America,” says Carson. “This gym equipment (referred to by its name) exercises the latissimus dorsi (or lats) muscles located on your back and wrapped around the back of the rib cage,” he says.
“What I love about the pull-down lat is how it simulates the pull-up, which is one of the best upper body strength exercises you can do,” he says. Push-ups are extremely difficult, however, so it is unlikely that you can pull them off without training. Increase the strength of the batten with one of the most effective arm machines in the gym and nail perfect traction before you know it. “Anyone can increase the pulling force,” says Carson. Try 3 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions.
2. Pull / dip the machine
Reminder: push-ups are certainly heavy, but body weight also decreases. Both are excellent for the upper body and the back muscles and are much easier to talk to than do. This combined gym machine allows you to work on both, while reducing the percentage of body weight you actually lift, says Arndt. “This machine helps to maintain good shape while increasing strength in the upper body, especially if you are a beginner or want to work on high and low weight devices,” she says.
On the upper body day, try using this machine for custom push-ups and triceps falls. “I recommend using 50 to 70 percent of your body weight for 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps,” she says. (Better yet, make a super set alternating between the two moves.)
3. Seated driving machine
“Like the brass puller, the seated rowing machine works with the lats, this time focusing more on the middle of your back as you pull the weight horizontally towards you,” says Carson. It also works on the back of the shoulders, biceps and rhomboids (another back muscle). “This is a great move if you are at a table all day, because it means that you are likely to lose strength in the posture muscles, which can cause pain and discomfort if you are weakened,” he explains. Try 3 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions.