Machines That Need to Retire

Over the past 6 1/2 plus years I have to admit it, I have been spoiled.  I have been working in personal training studios with the best trainers, the best methodologies and the best equipment the fitness world has to offer.  You name it, I have pretty much worked with it, slam balls, ropes, the Keiser line, kettlebells, TRX etc.  Working in training studios run by trainers and designed by trainers we know what is good for our clients and what our clients can benefit the most from.  With that being said, now that I have moved and switched jobs to a membership gym, I fortunately (or unfortunately?)have forgotten about all of the machines that the every day gym goers use.  I see all of these machines, all in a line, looking shiny and easy to use and I can’t but help think what a waste of space.  I know machines are easy to use for almost everybody and you can gain strength from their use but I think most of them are causing more harm than they are producing.  I am a huge fan of big, complex, full body, body weight movements and not so much with the isolation movements that machines have to offer.  We can benefit so much more from loading our bodies with a lunge, squat, one leg reach, push up or pull up than any machine can provide.  We learn to use our whole body in its natural range of motion while effectively engaging a lot of stabilizing and opposing muscle groups.  Machines are not capable of offering that to you.  They are only capable of making you stronger for that specific muscle group in that specific plane of motion and this is why they need to hang it up and retire.

The machines which need to retire are as followed:

  • Seated Inner Thigh
  • Seated Outer Thigh
  • Seated Leg Curl
  • Seated Leg Extension
  • Seated Leg Press
  • Seated Calf Raise
  • Seated Chest Press
  • Seated Dips
  • Seated Bicep Curls
  • Seated Chest Flys
  • Seated Row
  • Seated Lat Pull Down
  • Seated Back Extension
  • Seated Ab Crunch
  • Seated Shoulder Press
  • Seated Shoulder Lateral Raise

After taking a quick look at that list, did you notice a commonality? Everything is in the seated position.  Unfortunately with this day and age most of us are in the seated position for way to much of the day with sitting to eat breakfast, sitting in your car driving to work, sitting at your desk, sitting in meetings and sitting on your couch at home.  With all of that sitting going on, why would you go to the gym and sit some more while moving some weight around?  You are creating more havoc on your hips and back than your could ever imagine.  We need to get out of the sitting position and open up those hips and utilize the strength in your whole body.  One of the most eye opening books I read a long time ago when I first got into training was The Rules of Lifting by Alwyn Cosgrove.  In the book, Mr. Cosgrove says there are 6 movements that should be done in order to achieve a great full body workout on those 6 movements are:

  1. Push
  2. Pull
  3. Squat
  4. Lunge
  5. Twist
  6. Deadlift

Easy, simple and very basic.  Using those 6 movements are what I design my workout programs for my clients and for myself every single time.  Most of the 6 movements can be performed with very little equipment at all and would not require you to use an real machines.  As much as I am not a fan of Crossfit, I started to think about what machines they use and the only real machine I could think of is the rowing machine.  The rowing machine is seated yes, but you get to use your arms and your legs and it is one heckuva great workout.  I feel the fitness industry is coming to a point where they see the value of free space and open gyms with equipment all along the walls and doing away with the clutter of big bulky machines.  Gyms should update to more balls, bands, kettlebells, TRX’s, pull up bars and free weights.  It is time to move into the next stage of fitness, learning to load, move and use your body without the assistance of machines.

Retire those machines, stick to the 6 movements and learn to use your body the best way you can.

Workouts are like brushing my teeth; I don’t think about them, I just do them. The decision has already been made”. – Patti Sue Plumer, U.S. Olympian



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