Perform Better Part 2- 10 Reasons Why Machines Suck

10 Reasons Why Machines Suck


FREE weights

FREE weights

Functional training is always the giant overlying theme at seminars. It is just a given, this seminar was even called the Peform Better FUNCTIONAL TRAINING Summit. Every GOOD trainer knows that machines are not an effective way to train and may be detrimental for some people. The main reason they are currently used and marketed is because they are simple and people feel isolated body parts working. However, the general population does not get the right information about how the human body actually works, which is as an integrated unit. Although, there may be times that one needs to isolate your body, to function properly and remain pain-free you need to train your body as a whole. In addition, if you are interested in losing fat, lose the machines! Dumbbells or any other implement including your bodyweight will help you burn more calories then doing the same type of exercise on a machine becuase there are more muscles and systems activated. Another reason machines are around is that they are expensive, more machines = more money for the firms that sell them.

Now here are 10 reasons why machines suck:

1) They do not support the body. The current book I am reading Gray Cook’s Athletic Body in Balance refers to this fact. But it is obvious, if you are sitting on a machine you are only supporting the limb(s) that are working. Nothing else is working as significantly as it can, it’s the definition of LESS BANG for you BUCK.

2) If you check Men’s Health 2010 Top 10 Gyms in America and see the videos, what are they doing?  They are not sitting on machines doing “circuit training.” They are swinging Kettlebells, squatting, benching, running through ladders, chin-ups, flipping tires, pushing sleds, they are TRAINING MOVEMENTS. Now if machines were the BEST way to train wouldn’t the BEST trainers and the BEST GYMS use them? Obviously you can tell that they are not an effective way to spend your training time if the best don’t use them at ALL.

3) You can not vary the exercises much. Periodic variation is a key principle in progression.  With machines you are always stuck in the same position which is usually seated. Meaning you will be stuck doing the same exercise forever if you do not learn to lift free-weights. I saw this when I worked at the Y, people would come in day in and day out and do the same routine. With no results, now isn’t that the definition of crazy? I guess you could say they maintained but isn’t there better goals then just STAYING EXACTLY THE SAME. I have seen people in their 90’s progress, so I know you can too.

4) You are sitting! Most people sit at work, sit on the couch, sit in the car and you are going to exercise and SIT! That makes no sense, try not sitting and you will see a whole new world.

5) Many machines only work one joint at a time, some even two, wow! When just the act of sitting down in that machine involves more muscle groups! Use multi-joint movements as your staple exercises (squat, lunge,push, pull, rotate and run).

6) They take up tons of space. From a trainer’s perspective this makes tons of sense to not have machines around. We are trying to help more people not less, so why have a bulky machine that only does ONE thing take up all this space?

7) Exercise machines do not help you improve your posture.  If you are relying on a machine to sit up against your postural muscles do not have to work nearly a fraction as much with many other typical free weight training exercise.

8) Machines are flat out boring.  Their are so many great free-weight, body-weight, med ball… exercises out there that you can have lots of fun with and get much greater results.

9) They do not help you train balance, stability and mobility in the way that other exercises can. In an increasingly sedentary society we need to train all of those aspects just to function in daily life without getting hurt. If not then we are a ticking time bomb.

10) They do not resemble anything you will do athletically in real life. If you like to run, play sports, ride a bike, play with you kids/grand-kids or walk you should train to do those type of activities. Not train how to lift heavy weight while sitting down and reading a book.

If you have any questions, comments, arguments or would like to learn more about training. Always feel free to contact me:


machines suck


About MaxOut Performance Fitness
Sergio Maldonado is a Sports Performance and Fitness Coach in the San Francisco Bay Area. He strives to be the best at what he does through training, professional development courses, and practice. The purpose of this blog is to get out some of the knowledge that he obtains to better help others in their pursuits towards fitness and a better life.

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