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Starting today.. with ~sigh~ machines

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Old 06-06-2011, 09:51 AM   #1
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Default Starting today.. with ~sigh~ machines

Hey all...

despite my best efforts, I cannot get anyone at my branch of the Y to show me how to use the free weights... also, I looked at the plates they have there and the smallest plate is 25... which means 50lbs plus the bar is the lightest I could lift. I know this is more than I can handle right now.

I have made a personal commitment to hit the machines twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and use my kettlebells once a week (Friday). I have a 10lb and a 20lb kettlebell as well as the copy of Body Sculpting with Kettlebells for women. I need to make it a habit to get to the gym to train because I don't do it at home. (Also, been paying a membership and not using the equipment for too long..)

My goal, at this point is to "lift" as much and as heavy as I can in the shortest amount of time on the machines....

For those of you who use the machines, what do you think are the best ones for as much of a "whole body" workout I can get? What are your favorites and why? I would like to be efficient at this. I'm hoping the kettlebells will add the stabilization effect that I would get from lifting free weights. The goal is to "graduate" to the free weights when I get stronger and more comfortable in the gym. (because intimidation is a bit of a factor here)

(does this make any sense?)

Thanks!

Last edited by KicknKnit : 06-06-2011 at 09:52 AM.
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Old 06-06-2011, 10:02 AM   #2
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Why use the KBs only one time a week? The KB swing is an amazing total body exercise. Why not use the heavier weight and do 3 sets of 10, 3 times a week, if you can.
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Old 06-06-2011, 10:16 AM   #3
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Why use the KBs only one time a week? The KB swing is an amazing total body exercise. Why not use the heavier weight and do 3 sets of 10, 3 times a week, if you can.
Honestly?

I "forget".

I'm hoping to set a routine where I get to the gym on a regular basis. I need to build a new habit and working out at home doesn't seem to do it.

My partner will be going with me to the gym and the plan is that we prod each other into going.

ETA: I could, though do the swings when I get home from the gym.. that would make it three times a week.

Last edited by KicknKnit : 06-06-2011 at 10:41 AM. Reason: add the ETA bit
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Old 06-06-2011, 11:05 AM   #4
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kick - As a fitness trainer at my local Y, I'm appalled that no one effectively helped you with the dumbbells. That is what we are SUPPOSED to do! There should be a suggestion box somewhere around there. Write a complaint.

Do they have an assisted pull up machine? If not, Lat pull downs are efficient for upper body. Doing squats and lunges with small dumbbells in either hand are efficient for lower body.

The machines lack in challenging the stablizers - tendons and ligaments - and they only target one specific muscle, usually. Also, machines are criticized for exercising the body in ways that we don't normally move. For instance, when have we ever used our quads in the way that a leg extension machine has you lift? Be that as it may, it will still strengthen your quads.

My fav machines are assist pull up, lat pull down, hip flexor (5 ways to work your butt), pulley (used for tri extension, and so, so so much more), and pec flies-rear delt machine, but I use the others, too, when I have to.

Good luck! Try to lift 3 x a wk.
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Old 06-06-2011, 11:26 AM   #5
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kick - As a fitness trainer at my local Y, I'm appalled that no one effectively helped you with the dumbbells. That is what we are SUPPOSED to do! There should be a suggestion box somewhere around there. Write a complaint.
Maybe I need to get more in their face. I've asked at the front desk who sent me to the wellness director.. who had left for the night.. so I emailed him at her suggestion. Then radio silence. They are notoriously disorganized there. Makes me crazy. When I first joined and took advantage of one of my three wellness visits I specifically asked "can you show me the free weights". and they guy says "oh no.. you don't want to start there. You could get hurt.. let's start you on the machines." I should have insisted. I'm probably not being my best advocate here.

Mostly I see women with the 3lb vinyl dumbells... no women on the free weights.. ever.

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The machines lack in challenging the stablizers - tendons and ligaments - and they only target one specific muscle, usually. Also, machines are criticized for exercising the body in ways that we don't normally move. For instance, when have we ever used our quads in the way that a leg extension machine has you lift? Be that as it may, it will still strengthen your quads.
I had heard this and I do believe it... I really do hope to get there... I think a month or so after making exercising a habit, I'll start getting pushier .. maybe pay for a trainer.

Thank you for the suggestions.

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Old 06-06-2011, 11:36 AM   #6
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WOW I think you SHOULD write a complaint into the "Suggestion Box"...your best advocate or not at MY "Y" they help you out if you ask...for sure!

When I started on the free weights it was mostly all buff men (some not so buff but still intimidating) and that could be why you don't see many women on them. Get in their face and WELCOME BACK!!!! YOU CAN DO IT!
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Old 06-06-2011, 12:12 PM   #7
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In my opinion the odds that there is a person at your Y that can show you the proper way to do a deadlift or a squat is extremely low. Plus, if the smallest weight they have is a 25lb plate than the smallest jump in progress you could make is 50 lbs.

You mention they have dumbells? You can use these for a variety of free weight exercises that are not too difficult to learn. Lunges for example are a great lower body exercise that can be done with dumbells.

Finally - there is nothing wrong with machines.
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Old 06-06-2011, 12:19 PM   #8
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In my opinion the odds that there is a person at your Y that can show you the proper way to do a deadlift or a squat is extremely low.
Hopefully this is specifically referring to her Y, given the lack of interest in teaching her proper technique and not Y's in general?
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Old 06-06-2011, 12:43 PM   #9
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In my opinion the odds that there is a person at your Y that can show you the proper way to do a deadlift or a squat is extremely low. Plus, if the smallest weight they have is a 25lb plate than the smallest jump in progress you could make is 50 lbs.
The wellness director certainly looks like he's hit a few weights. He's not a small guy.. and he's usually very helpful.. the fact that I've not heard from him is honestly very surprising. He was the one shining light in that web of chaos.

With the machines, should I do more weight fewer reps? which is what I thought was the same idea with the free weights... thoughts?
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Old 06-06-2011, 12:45 PM   #10
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Hopefully this is specifically referring to her Y, given the lack of interest in teaching her proper technique and not Y's in general?
Yes I was refferring to her Y specifically. Having said that - the squat and deadlift are not easy movements to learn. It's not a matter of simply "showing" someone how to use the free weights.
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Old 06-06-2011, 12:48 PM   #11
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. It's not a matter of simply "showing" someone how to use the free weights.
Not sure if it's the same movement but I did take a few kettlebell classes and learned to squat with those... but not deadlift.

When I contacted the Y, I did also ask about their personal training which is different than their wellness sessions..

I'm headed there tonight.. if they don't have anyone who can/will work with me, they just need to tell me so.
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Old 06-06-2011, 09:28 PM   #12
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Holy frippin carp! I am horrified at your Y! Then again, our Y happens to be blessed with trainers who are not only certified, most of them are degreed as well.

I teach beginning weight training and we start with free weights. Like in The New Rules For Women's Weight Lifting, you've simply got to "train to train". The stabilizers, when they get strong, are what prevents us from hurting ourselves! You can more efficiently work the stabilizers with free weights than you can with machines.

Think if it. You strengthen one specific muscle with the machines. The muscle gets stronger yet the stabilizers don't as much. NOW, your body has an even bigger potential to injure itself because your muscles can pull more than your stabilizers can support!

I'm not super surprised, though. The Y can't pay well so the people who work there use that job until they get a better one. It's like a revolving door at our Y sometimes.

Definitely talk to the director. He needs to know he hired a doof.
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Old 06-06-2011, 10:57 PM   #13
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Yes I was refferring to her Y specifically. Having said that - the squat and deadlift are not easy movements to learn. It's not a matter of simply "showing" someone how to use the free weights.
Totally agree. It's why I usually avoid deadlifts; they are incredible exercises but I don't trust my form.
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Old 06-07-2011, 11:16 AM   #14
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I suppose I don't find squats and deadlifts difficult because of my background. I learned how to properly do them years ago and yet I always check my form in the mirrors or grab another person to critique me.

The Y trainers are supposed to go around and check form for people without even being asked. It's not only safe, but it builds better client relationships and helps them spend more money on donations and classes, too.

Back to the OP, you can do the machines, but don't be afraid to learn on your own how to work with free weights. Always lift light for the first 3 weeks and work on form and preparing your stabilizers. Once you're confident in your form, and you can lift without feeling wobbly, then up the weight.
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Old 06-07-2011, 11:28 AM   #15
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thank you everyone..

we did the "circuit" last night. I didn't realize they had that all set up. Pretty cool..

I tend to have anxiety in new situations. Already, I'm eyeballing the free weight section and I think, after a little time getting comfortable I'm going to start pushing for someone to give me the "tour"

On a side note: I observed some rather interesting behaviors in the machine area. (Cybex machines and bicep/tricep station.. yanno the bar/pulley contraption?)

1.) one woman hopped up on the leg extension (hamstrings) machine and was chatting with one of the wellness directors.. I don't think there was ANY weight on that thing.. she just whipped out 20 extensions with minimal effort in about 10 seconds.. She could have been just sitting on a chair swinging her legs... then she hopped off and ran back to her treadmill.. was this some sort of odd stretching behavior?

2.) a guy walking around with a weight belt and gloves (yes.. for machines) and sticking the pin in the highest weight in the stack for the tricep pulldown. Then used his entire body to slam those suckers down.. 5 times FAST and then dropped them. Then looked up and around to see if anyone saw his "awesome strength". He did the same thing on the bicep curl machine.

Suddenly, I didn't feel so stupid or lame.
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