Are machines that bad? And other questions

Discussion in 'Newbie Questions' started by Southpaw535, Sep 25, 2017.

  1. Southpaw535

    Southpaw535 Well-Known Member Moderator Supporter

    On multiple occasions now I've made threads about trying to start working out then through a combination of laziness and information overload never took seriously. Well, now I'm actually turning into a halfway responsible adult I'm quite determined to make a serious crack at it but have fallen into some hurdles.

    The biggest one is my access to equipment. I'm living in a very small student place where I'd struggle to find room to squat, yet alone do anything productive, and even if I did I know from years of experience by now I severely struggle with self-motivation at home. The only place I work out well is in a gym. I also know I won't motivate myself long term, especially in my final uni year, to go to a gym in town. Luckily, I have a commercial gym literally the next road along from me. Unluckily, its a little limited in equipment outside of gym machines and while I was looking up a starting routine all I found was page after page after page of people saying how useless gym machines are and to go grab a barbell. Which I would, except this gym doesn't have any.

    While I can afford this place, I don't want to waste my money if the equipment doesn't let me achieve anything practical. Which is the biggest thing I see repeated is exercise machines don't translate to movements off the machines which defeats my purpose of wanting to get into some form of shape before starting mma again. (recovering from a broken hand, and can't afford the membership there until next year.)


    1. I get that "any work is better than no work" but is it practically worth my money and time to use gym machines in lieu of free weights?

    2. The gym does have dumbbells up to about 30kg which is waaaaay more than I need anyway, but having done dumbell training at home my incredibly awful posture and crappy form always made it feel like it was doing more harm than good. For barbells I could see machines helping to build form and then transitioning, but I can't see the same benefit for dumbbells?

    3. Off the weights, I need to get my cardio up and shift a decent amount of chub. I do unfortunately have a problem with running that a tendon (I think) outside my ankle gets very strained and painful quite quickly running and skipping. Luckily, gyms have bikes. I don't know how good a substitute for running bike machines are though?

    4. Is there any advice on building routines for machines? Since everyone who writes routines hates them I'm struggling to find one and I have absolutely no idea how to build a routine and any attempt to google it just makes me panic and quit from there sheer amount of (occasionally conflicting) information on the internet.
  2. Dead_pool

    Dead_pool the merc with the mouth MAP 2017 Moi Award

    Machines are great if you have any injuries.

    And dumbells plus a bench are great to work with too.

    As there's no barbell, get your rehab done, and get super cardio'd up too!
    Southpaw535 likes this.
  3. Fish Of Doom

    Fish Of Doom Will : Mind : Motion Supporter

    If the machines are good, there's a ton of stuff you can get done with them, particularly at the beginning stages. Dumbbells are excellent too, and up to 30kg is a decent weight range as well.
    For the cardio, the thing to look for is the systemic effort, so basically anything that you can do a lot of and get tired without pain or injury is good, so bike away!

    Regarding routines, keep it simple and go for compound moves. Lunges, rows, presses, pulldowns, that sort of stuff. T-nation has good technique videos for different moves (the vids by Christian Thibaudeau┬Ę), and has gifs and text instructions for even more. Focus on learning the movements first and then go for progressively adding more weight session by session, week by week, etc (look up Pretty in Pink's thread, I wall-of-text'd it pretty hard with the details; for machines and DBs you'll probably want to focus on moderate-to-high-rep work as heavier work can be awkward to perform).

    Personal recommendations for exercise selection:

    Pressing in front: Flat or incline dumbbell bench press, floor press will do in a pinch, maaaaaaybe a chest press machine if it can go anywhere above 60kg.

    Overhead pressing: Dumbbell overhead press or Arnold press. If they happen to have a smith machine, overhead press there is always an option.

    Legs: Dumbbell lunges are your friends. Front, rear, or walking if space allows. If there happens to be a back extension bench, particularly a 45┬║ one, those can be used to work the hips as well. Again if they happen to have a Smith machine, you can always blaspheme a bit and do some squats or deadlifts in it, tho the movements will be different than with free weights.

    Abs: Prolly not much work needed because grappling, but one-arm dumbbell row works obliques very well when heavy, and planks are excellent as well. Fill up with air and brace when doing any heavy work and you'll also work the TVA pretty well.

    Rowing: One and two-arm dumbbell rows, chest- or head-supported two-arm rows, seated cable rows, and maybe pull-downs. If you can do pull-ups and chin-ups, those are excellent choices too, but you need a chain belt or something to add weight to them and can't go lighter than your bodyweight without an assisted pull-up machine.
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  4. axelb

    axelb Master of Office Chair Fu

    Free weights > Machines > sitting on the sofa :D

    The issue most have is that you are forced into a particular range of motion which can lead to injury. If you have worked with free weights before then you can feel it better and adjust, but this does not mean you cannot get a good workout from machines. I used machines for a few years doing 5x5 routine, the biggest issue is that most commercial gym machines do not have enough weight to make a great deal of progress.

    If you have ankle problems with running and skipping it is worth checking your gate at a running store, your shoes may not be appropriate for your running style. I over pronate, so I need support shoes which are easy to get a hold of. There are alternatives for running, like bike and row, but you may have this issue come back again. In most cases you'll burn most energy running, but you can certainly burn nearly as much with other options.
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  5. Southpaw535

    Southpaw535 Well-Known Member Moderator Supporter

    Thanks a lot guys. Will sort out memberships soon and I guess I should probably make my way to the log section too
    Dead_pool and axelb like this.
  6. Mushroom

    Mushroom De-powered to come back better than before.

    Machines are good to use. (that basically it)
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  7. Rataca100

    Rataca100 Banned Banned

    Does the gym have those i forget their name, boxes that people can do squats in with bar bells? Some of those double up as pull up bars.

    And machines have their place i have personally enjoyed usuing a strength machine when i was starting something and didnt know free weight exercises. Yes i was that person only doing bicep curls. The only issue is, some of them can get stiff and require some amount of strength to work before you get to exercise. As for cardio machines i dont know the science behind them and to if they can be a sub to anything or are meant as a supplement. I would say its less emabrssing to use a cross trainer in a gym than walk with hiking poles in summer or carrying dumbells.

    I only have exerpeicne with bikes, treadmills, cross trainers and i think it was a front press machine or something. (the leg machines where jammed as before mentioned and i coudl shift them each time i went to use them) Also a machien where you pedal something like a bike with your arms instead.

    Surely that gym would have some space for calisphetic exercises like push ups an dsit ups etc, even if its a intended warm up thing.
  8. Southpaw535

    Southpaw535 Well-Known Member Moderator Supporter

    Went and tried it today, mostly wondered around like a lost sheep and did the odd random thing. The good news is they do have bars. Kettelbells too. And those weird ab things where you do vertical leg raises or whatever is going on there.

    So its better stocked than I thought which was nice. Just played around with a couple machines and did a plank then went home but I can start looking for routines a bit more now I know what they have.
    Mushroom, Fish Of Doom and axelb like this.

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