Rodney McBride

Strength and Weight Machines Don't Mix Again

 Strength and Weight Machines Don't Mix Again

In my blog Strength and Weight Machines Don't Mix (see June 23rd) I talked about how weight machines will do away with three important components needed in strength development: mobility, stability and full body muscle tension. Today I want to talk about two other components of weight machines that are also strength sabotaging and dangerous.

I mentioned in the last blog that weight machines restrict you to one plane of movement. The movement that the machine was designed for. If you restrict your mobility to one plane of movement by using weight machines you end up developing tension only in the muscle related to the machines action. This is counterintuitive to real strength.

Remember that real strength is the ability to use every muscle when lifting weights not isolated muscles. But this is exactly what happens when you use weight machines. Not only are you trying to promote strength to a single area of the body which doesn't make sense in strength logic; but you are also eliminating other muscles from the movement which are critical to full body tension. 

Not only due weight machines undermine your strength but they can lead to injury in two ways. 

Since weight machines force you to work in a fixed action the stress over time from this fixation could lead to micro trauma of the surrounding tissues: muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints. 

This is because only the muscle fibers closes to the joint itself get exercised not the whole muscle. You are isolating an area of an already isolated muscle and straining it with a fixed path repeatedly. Ouch!!!

The second reason weight machines may lead to injury is because of incorrect movement patterns. Your body functions in kinetic chains. This means that several muscles work together to perform movement. By using machines you are teaching your body to work in isolation which is not functional to real life. An example will be more helpful.

The motor function in a squat is different from a motor function in a leg extension. When you are squatting you are teaching your nervous system to be comfortable exercising several muscles at one time. When you are doing leg extensions on a weight machine you are teaching your nervous system to be comfortable in isolation. 

The isolated strength from the leg extension will undercut the overall strength of the kinetic chain from the squat because the two motor patterns are different and your nervous system will become confused because it doesn't know how to blend the two together. It's even worse if you just did isolation exercises only and no compound free weight movements.

Now you go sprint for the bus and you strain a muscle because of improper motor and movement development. Make sense?

If real strength is what you are after then weight machines are not the way to go.


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