It’s the age old question of what’s better…machines or free-weights? Where that is another topic for another day, you should really be utilising both in your routine in order to get both isolated and compound movements into your workouts. Both have pro’s and cons but here we cover how you can maximise your results when using a resistance machine.
Probably the biggest thing that will always make the most out of your workouts is control and it’s no different when using a machine. Get out of your head that machines are another way to hit a new personal best and focus more on how you perform that movement (correct weight is therefore applicable). Most machines are designed to isolate certain muscle groups, so you don’t need silly weight loads that make you perform it wrong, or using momentum. Pick a rep-relatable weight load to what you’re doing and slow down the whole movement, always focusing on a slower stretch phase of the exercise. Form beats all!
The reason so many machines have seat height adjusters and handle adjusters is that everyone has a different anatomical set up. Short people, tall people, wider shoulder widths etc, this is why it’s so important to set up the machine correctly BEFORE starting any reps. The goal here is ROM (range of movement)…allowing your muscle to get a really good stretch out of each exercise. Take seated row, you should set up the machine so that the pad in your chest is adjusted so that arms can be stretched out straight on the lowering portion of the lift, or the pec dec handles set up far enough back that you get a good pec stretch without putting your shoulders in a compromising position. The stretching of the muscle under load will give better results than just repping out half-reps.
Similar to the point above, most machines will also allow for multiple grip positions too, I.e. lat pulldown, chest presses etc. Play about with these different hand positions and see which of them connect better with you personally as your body structure will play a vital role. Prime example of this is Lat Pulldown, if you personally feel your last working harder on a closer grip rather than wider, then roll with that, or if you feel your quads more on leg press with a wider stance rather than closer, go with that. Always bat clever and use the grips/set ups and control that works the muscle you’re trying to work better. If you’re not feeling something, change it!
It’s Ok To Say No
There’s also a possibility in some gyms with some machines that they can sometimes be fixed in place and can’t be adjusted as much. Rather than struggling to get on the machine, or putting yourself and your joints into uncomfortable positions, choose an alternative instead that will yield better results for you. This is why we have the ‘change’ button on workouts in the app…allowing to choose an appropriate alternative to give the same end result. So it’s ok to pass on a machine that simply won’t target your muscles like you’d like it to, simply move on or find a better option for you.
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