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Did I waste my time using machines?

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Old 02-01-2014, 07:43 PM   #1
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Default Did I waste my time using machines?

I've been strength training for a year now and basically have not noticed a difference in my body. I go to the Y and use the machines. It makes me feel good and empowered but like I've said no real change in my body.

To put it in perspective. I'm 244lbs and in my late 50's.

The Y has a small free weight room I've only seen men use it. I ventured in there the other day. Since no one was there I tried a couple of machines so I could add something new to my routine. There are some free weight but I didn't think to try them.

Today I just saw this thread WEIGHT AND RESISTANCE TRAINING and thought yeah a place I can fit into.

Well my bubble just got burst after reading the thread, machines vs free weights. It seems like the consensus is free weights is the way to go. SMH. I feel so deflated.

HOWEVER I won't give up. I just went to youtube and looked at videos on strength training for women over 50. I won't give up my machince totally but I will incorporate some free weights.

One of the reasons I like the machines is I need the muscle isolation. Both of my knees are very bad and need to be replaced so I have to be very careful. The only thing I really do in the weight room for my legs is ride the recumbent bike for 15 minutes. I don't like riding longer then that it's too boring.

This seems like a board I could fit into although most of you are probably much younger then I am I'm sure I'll find some good tips.

Happy lifting
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Old 02-01-2014, 09:19 PM   #2
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Well muscle isolation is good for some things but there are some things that aren't so great:

1) isolate to the detriment of your core and smaller muscles. Using free weights, helps not only use smaller muscles but also can help strengthen your core. A strong core helps protect your back, which is a common issue.

2) machines can also often put you in an unnatural position that can actually cause injury.

Did you waste your time? I don't think so. There are things you can do to help strengthen your legs that might work better than machines because they would make you use supplemental muscles.

Wall squats would be a good exercise as would single leg lifts. Neither of these would require weights but you could add some with the wall squats if you felt like it. Also, using a resistance band around your ankle and doing front, side and back leg lifts while standing might be a good exercise for the legs.

One thing to remember is don't worry about weight, worry about form. This goes for everyone in that you should learn how to do things like squats, lunges and other exercises with your body weight before you even worry about adding weight.

I have bad knees but my knees are so much better these days from doing squats, lunges, etc. It just took time to build up and sometimes to back off when I realized my form wasn't what it should be.
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Old 02-02-2014, 06:31 PM   #3
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Did you increase your strength? Did you get your heart racing? Did you have fun?

If you answered yes to any or all of the above, then your time has not been wasted.

The machine v. free weight argument is old, and inconclusive; they each have their pros + cons. Essentially, it depends on your goals/resources/preferences/etc. It sounds like you made the right choice for some of your exercises, because you chose health (ie. keeping your knees happy) over vanity or 'should do's'.

If you choose to explore free weights in the future, then take it slowly and make sure you don't create injuries for yourself (which is pretty much the exact same advice people are given for using machines ). Personally, I think that if you're enjoying yourself, staying active, and keeping an eye on form/safety in the gym, there are no wrong answers.
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Old 02-02-2014, 06:46 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Defining View Post
Did you increase your strength? Did you get your heart racing? Did you have fun?

If you answered yes to any or all of the above, then your time has not been wasted.

The machine v. free weight argument is old, and inconclusive; they each have their pros + cons. Essentially, it depends on your goals/resources/preferences/etc. It sounds like you made the right choice for some of your exercises, because you chose health (ie. keeping your knees happy) over vanity or 'should do's'.

If you choose to explore free weights in the future, then take it slowly and make sure you don't create injuries for yourself (which is pretty much the exact same advice people are given for using machines ). Personally, I think that if you're enjoying yourself, staying active, and keeping an eye on form/safety in the gym, there are no wrong answers.
Yes I increased strength but not by much I don't think I can lift much more. Heart not really racing.. and yes I have fun wich keeps me going there 3 times a week.

Thank you I feel a little better now.
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Old 02-02-2014, 06:52 PM   #5
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Awesome.

If you're interested in creating a strength routine to increase strength/muscle, then this is a great place to ask questions (there are some pretty well informed folks around 3FC). Or it might even be worth making an appointment or two with a trainer at the Y, to ask questions about how to progress.

Last edited by Defining : 02-02-2014 at 06:54 PM.
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Old 02-02-2014, 07:26 PM   #6
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You have not wasted your time. I TOTALLY don't get the hate against machines!!!

I have a Bowflex that I LOVE. I use both it and free weights. People injure themselves all the time with free weights. You can definitely build muscle with machines.

Jen
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Old 02-02-2014, 07:38 PM   #7
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I use machines at the Y, and I use water barbells when doing water exercises. It has definitely helped strengthen my muscles. I can carry more groceries, open tighter jars, lift items to put back on top closet shelves, etc.
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Old 02-02-2014, 08:45 PM   #8
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I'm a strength training lover, machines and free weights. I think they all have great benefits for our bodies. I do a mix of both, have done so for years. I use the leg press for my quads/glutes, the ab/ad hip press and the seated row for my general back muscles. I use dumbbells for my shoulders, biceps and triceps. I see definition mostly in my thighs and upper back/arms. On the other hand, I can do pec exercises (dumbbells or machines) and I don't feel any change, also I can do calf presses and/or calf raises using dumbbells until the cows come home and I still have a slight "c-ankle"...my genetics won't allow it lol...

I definitely am stronger overall which suits me. I burn calories much more efficiently too. I injure my muscles less when they are strong and flexible (from stretching and yoga as well).

I personally don't think it's a waste of time.
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Old 02-02-2014, 08:52 PM   #9
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To be fair, a bowflex isn't really a machine in this context, a bowflex is similar to a cable station which is considered on par with free weights in terms of allowing free movement and not isolating a single muscle. I like free weights a lot, and I include bands, body weight and cable stations with that.
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Old 02-12-2014, 10:47 AM   #10
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I use both free weights and machine.

And in my own personal experience, I find it much harder to do - say bicep curls with free weights as opposed to the machine. I actually lift more using the machine.

For me, it's about what exercise I'm doing that will determine machine or free weights. I stick to mostly free weights. That's just my preference.
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Old 02-12-2014, 11:35 AM   #11
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No way. If you're pushing and pulling weight and doing so safely, you're all good.
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Old 02-28-2014, 09:20 AM   #12
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I've heard good and bad things about the machines. I'm sure free weights are better for you if you use proper form, but I'm simply uncomfortable using them at the gym.

However, I do use the machines. Since I started going to the gym last July, I've noticed increased muscle definition in both my arms and calves. I feel stronger and I am able to increase the weight on the machines every couple of weeks. I have seen results while using the machines and I will keep using them. It works for me. Do what feels right and works for you.
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Old 02-28-2014, 10:41 PM   #13
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You did not waste your time. You were in the gym, you were working out. GOOD!

The thing is, for some exercises the machines are good, for some, free weights are a better option.

You can't do lat pull downs without the machine.

But you can't bench press without a bench and a bar and weights.

So, it's a balance, some machines, some free weights.

I highly recommend you check out, the "New Rules of Lifting Super Charged"

You can order the book from Amazon.

It's a great comprehensive program, that gives you all the moves, machine, free, cardio, and says, if you can't do this, sub, something else.

It's a great workout program, but is also very forgiving at the same time.

There are a couple of things they would like us to do, that involve "jumping".

Yeah, I"m old, I don't do box jumps. My knees won't. So, I do step ups instead, that's ok! The authors of the book, say, that's ok!

Actually, one of the authors, who is about my age, no longer does barbell back squats, he subs other moves instead.

So, for some things, machines are great, for other things, free weights are better.

Just depends!

Don't be afraid to do the free weights. It cracks me up, when I can push press or one arm dumb bell row more than the men that are hanging out at the gym!
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Old 03-01-2014, 04:33 AM   #14
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Quote:
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Actually, one of the authors, who is about my age, no longer does barbell back squats, he subs other moves instead
What's a barbell back squat? Just a regular barbell squat?
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Old 03-01-2014, 05:27 AM   #15
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I think machines are a very good way for a beginner to get familiar with general aspects of resistance training. They also can be significant aids for people who would otherwise be unable to workout due to the need for a spotter. Finally, they make it possible for people with physical issues that prevent them doing free weight exercises (e.g., a person using a hip sled because back/neck problems won't allow them to do deadlifts or squats) to engage in resistance training.

However, machines by their nature are limiting. For the most part they are designed with a "standard sized" body in mind so if you fall dramatically outside of the "norm" (and in this case, FYI, we're talking the average MAN) there are going to be huge leverage issues which will make performing the exercises correctly with any significant degree of weight nearly impossible. They also force your body to perform functions sometimes in unnatural postures.

That being said, I've found it's nearly impossible to make the mind/body connection of muscle isolation with machines because that is simply not the way they are designed. There is no ancillary work, it's impossible. The machines, by the nature of preventing injury, actually delete ancillary work from the equation. They are a good way to start, but eventually you'll realize you need to take off the training wheels. You get bored and want to stretch your horizons.

If you're truly "into iron" once you've had the experience of working with free weights anything, even just dumbbells, is significantly more effective and (perhaps even more important more satisfying) than working with most machines.

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