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Most women who’ve done strength training as part of their fitness routine have tried the machines at the gym at some point. As hard as they can be to figure out, they often feel safer to us than other types of strength training. There are pictures right there on the machine that indicate how the range of motion works. So, it’s easy! Just hop on, find a comfortable weight and seat height and crack out 3 sets of 12 easy reps. But, the truth is that the machines aren’t really so great for strength training, even though they’re the most popular choice for women. Weight machines limit your muscles’ ability to grow to their fullest, leanest potential and can actually cause injury.
Let’s take a look at 5 reasons why the weight machines at the gym aren’t worth your while and why free weights and bodyweight exercises are better options!
1) Unnatural Movement
Weight machines cause your muscles to work in a fixed, unnatural range of motion. This limits your ability to properly train your muscles. This fixed range of motion might not be right for all people, and in some cases it can cause overextension and injury to ligaments and tendons. The most natural types of exercises for all muscle groups in the body are bodyweight exercises. They work a greater number of muscles in each exercise than weight machines and have a lower risk for injury since your body is not placed in a fixed position or moving in a fixed plane of motion.
Weight machines make it difficult to balance out weakness that you may have in certain muscles in your body. Typically machines target a single muscle or just a few. Since your muscles are locked into a fixed position and range of motion, it doesn’t allow you to improve strength of weak areas. Bodyweight and free weight exercises ensure that weak muscles are put to work because there is no unnatural fixed position or range of motion. Many weight machines also force you to work both of your arms or legs at the same time, which can contribute to weaknesses in one side of the body or the other. Bodyweight and dumbbell exercises eliminate this problem.
3) Not Sized for Smaller Womens’ Bodies
Perhaps in your past experience using weight machines you’ve found that some of them just don’t feel right – either it’s hard to reach the handles or doesn’t feel like it’s working the muscle the way it should. This is because weight machines are designed to fit ‘standard sized’ users, or people whose height is between about 5 feet 8 inches to 6 feet. While some women fall in that range, most of us are shorter, meaning that weight machines are too big for our bodies, even if the seat is adjustable.
Some machines actually put your joints at risk for injury! One example is the leg extension machine which actually places more stress on your knees than traditional squats. This is because the resistance is near your ankles, which creates a lot of torque at your knees. Squats, lunges and other bodyweight leg exercises are safer and work a greater range of muscles at the same time than machines. Because of this, bodyweight exercises are more effective than machine exercises and they save you time!
5) Longer Workout Time
While it might seem like weight machines are easier and save time, a bodyweight and dumbbell workout is much faster. Since you work several muscles at once with each bodyweight exercise, you can cut your workout time in half! In fact, if you perform bodyweight exercise in a circuit style workout, using dumbbells to add additional weight in some exercises (particularly as you grow stronger), you’ll also get your heart-pumping cardio, all in the same short workout!
This is what Athlean-XX for Women workouts are all about. You probably defaulted to weight machines in the past because you knew strength training was important, but you weren’t really sure what the best types of exercises were. Well, Athlean-XX for Women will teach you the best exercises for each muscle group! Our workouts are just 30 minutes long, but they’re super effective. You’ll get an awesome strength workout AND cardio all in one! Ditch those hour long cardio sessions plus hour long strength sessions at the gym each day. We’ll help you get far better results in a lot less time. Athlean-XX for Women can also be done at home or at the gym, whatever your preference.
If you’re ready to get that lean, strong, athletic body join us on Team Athlean! Our flexible fitness and nutrition plan will get you there.
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