I don’t know about you, but when I walk into the gym and see 1000 different machines, I get a little intimidated. I don’t know which machine trains what or how much weight to add to them, much less how to use them! I try to watch the gym experts get on and off the machines and imitate their steps, but I just never know if I am doing it right. I’ve even hurt myself on a machine doing shoulder presses, an injury I am still dealing with 3 years later. After all this trouble, I have decided to stick with “man power” and avoid most machines all-together. If you are like me and are not an equipment expert, it would be wise to avoid the following machines because they have been known to cause the most injuries.
1. Seated Chest Fly Machine: While meant to train chest and shoulders, this machine can put the shoulders in an unstable position, placing excessive stress on the shoulder joint and its connective tissues.
Instead: Work the same muscles by doing sets of incline push-ups.
2. Smith Machine Squats: The alignment of this machine makes for linear movements rather than natural, arched movements in the chest, biceps, and legs, therefore putting stress on your knees, shoulders, and low back.
Instead: Try doing body weight squats.
3. Seated Rotation Machine: I used to like this machine, but I discovered that because the pelvis doesn’t move with the chest, it causes excessive twisting forces on the spine.
Instead: Tone up by doing some cable wood chops!
4. Seated Leg Lift Extension Machine: Talk about “all that work for nothing,” this machine strengthens a motion that your legs aren’t even designed to do! It can also strain your ligaments and tendons surrounding your kneecaps.
Instead: Train muscles in your legs that you will actually use by doing 1-legged body-weight squats.
5. Seated Hip Abductor Machine: Here’s another machine that will waste your time. While it is meant to train your outer thighs, because you are seated, it trains a movement that has no functional use and can place undue pressure on the spine.
Instead: Do some lateral band walks and really feel your muscles working!
6. Roman Chair Back Extension Machine: Repeatedly flexing the back while its supporting weight places pressure on the spine and increases the risk for damaging your disks.
Instead: Protect your spine and try holding a bird-dog pose.
7. Roman Chair Sit-Up: This machine places the lower back in a vulnerable, rounded position, placing stress on the lower back.
Instead: Train your abs and hip flexors by holding the plank position for 60 seconds.
8. Seated Shoulder Press Machine: I have a personal vendetta against this machine, since it is the one I messed up my shoulders on over 3 years ago. The shoulder movement required by this machine doesn’t allow you to use your hips to assist your shoulders, which is the natural way to push something up overhead. This puts the shoulder joints in a vulnerable position and puts undue stress on your shoulder.
Instead: Work your shoulders and triceps by doing medicine ball throws.
Don’t get me wrong, not all machines are bad! But, it is best to either learn how to do them correctly from a professional or to use good ole man-power and body-weight when working out.