Any views or opinions presented in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the company. This blog is a unique perspective of one persons journey into fitness. Not all clients and participants at Parsons Training undergo the same training, and each person makes his or her own decisions regarding dietary discretions.
By Steve Sharpton, Parsons Training Center, Tucson, Arizona
January 8, 2018
Back in the day, Parsons Training was a pretty good mix of everything. There were weight machines galore, cable machines and even a leg press. I especially became addicted to the leg press, for that was typically the biggest ego boost for me at the gym. I mean, leg pressing 800 pounds for the first time can be quite exhilarating. Anyway, over the span of a year, those machines started getting removed, and ultimately they were all sent off to other people or probably a resale place. One cable machine made it to 2017, and when you really look at it…the sucker was severely out of place. Massive and bulky, the cable pulling machine was finally taken out of the gym a couple weeks ago and the spacial impact has been immediate. The place just feels bigger and much more functional now. In the process, it was also a bit of a summation for the company. Any good company has to make adjustments to their philosophy, and unlike those that try to sue and bully their way to getting what they want rather than adjusting to the times or compromise, Parsons is no different. For nearly a year, the company has been putting an emphasis on functional body work, implementing Olympic style weight lifting and circuit style training over the typical old school exercises of bench presses and back squats. In the end, the cable machine was on borrowed time as the philosophy was changing. For the time being, there is nothing but free weights in the gym to use at a person’s disposal. Now it may seem weird that a gym might strictly stick to this mantra, for even hardcore gyms have some machines at their disposal. However, there is a method to the madness, for people tend to forget the world of weight lifting itself didn’t begin with a Bowflex or a Gazelle (deep cut there, remember those!!). You don’t see old time weight lifters working on the pulldown machine or doing some weird workout on a sitting press, they are doing stuff with kettle weights and free weights. So why should you attend a gym that focuses almost exclusively on free weights?
To begin with, I’m not saying machines are all that bad for you. In a lot of cases, taking on a machine based workout can help you out tremendously. https://www.acefitness.org/education-and-resources/professional/expert-articles/5561/6-benefits-of-using-weightlifting-machines Some of the biggest benefits is the safety aspect, which makes it easier for people trying to up their effort in their workout regimens. Another thing that is pretty nice about machines is the fact you can actually push yourself pretty hard. Since you have a grounded base at your disposal, pushing yourself with heavier weights can lead to some good gains in the muscle definition department. And in regards to the whole aerobic/weight lifting paradigm, you can also put together a good fat burning workout since you have the ability to focus on your effort as opposed to focusing on maintaining your balance or escaping a bar that could land on your head if you are not careful. Considering the wide variety of machines at your disposal, you can still get a good pump on if part of your regimen is just going balls to the wall at the gym. Also, using weight lifting machine can be good for your rehabilitation process. Machines are also classified as treadmills and rowing devices as well, so even if you are doing some running on a treadmill or getting your bike on while watching a sporting event, this is all positive. The only downside of machines really are the fact they can take up a lot of space.
So far, it seems like being strictly a machines kinda workout person is a good thing. Get your pump on, blow up some calories and do it with little threat of injury. Well, aside from those aesthetics, are you really improving your body? This is why free weights have such a decided advantage against the machine weights. https://www.sharecare.com/health/exercise-weight-loss/are-machines-weights-better-loss Some trainers will sidestep the issue with “whatever your body responds best to” sort of answer, when in reality you can burn a lot more with a functional free weight work-out. With a machine, you mostly are stationary and focus on one body movement. You can burn some calories but it will not be the same as a free weight workout of similar intensity. Using your entire body to maintain and stabilize yourself during a circuit will use up more energy, mainly because you are not in a sitting position. More muscles are being employed in the process and that means you will be eating up a lot more in the caloric department. This also segues into the other benefit of free weights…the building of stability. Like I said before, using machines during rehab is wonderful, as well using them early in your workout regimen. They can also help you with confidence if you have some trouble with your body and working out in general. But free weights can also do this and actually build your body from a full functional perspective. The biggest thing in the fitness world is establishing stability for yourself, and just do a simple comparison. What will aid you more in the long run? Using a Smith Press to do your back squats, or doing back squats with free weights where your have to engage more muscle groups to keep yourself steady. Smith Presses are nice, but the stability of the machine takes away some of the balances benefits that will ultimately aid you in building your body. Sure, you may be forced to go with lighter weights, but ultimately you will be able to match your weights as you create better stability.
Now which is method is better you might ask? Truthfully, there is no real answer to that question. Clearly, when establishing a workout regimen, you want to find the right balance of muscle building, caloric burn and functionality. Developing your body to withstand the rigors of age and non-use are important, which is why you need the free weight work on your side. It’s tough but it is a necessary evil. And of course, when doing the whole machine based workout, some days you just need to work certain body parts…which is a nice change of pace if your are lacking in one area and need something structured. Truth be told, the pros and cons of each ultimately lead to the condition that you need exercise in some shape or form. And isn’t that the whole point? So yes, a place like Planet Fitness can be useful as long as you get your head off the weird colored equipment and stay away from the free pizza on Tuesdays. Just remember, you will ultimately need to graduate to the free weights and stability training if you really want to make your life a healthy one.
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About Parsons Training
Parsons Training is a Tucson leader in fitness and personal wellness training. Every personal trainer with this company designs and implements effective fitness programs for their clients; these programs serve as the foundation for good health, fitness, and wellness. Additional information about Parsons Training is available at http://www.parsonspersonaltraining.com
Any views or opinions presented in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the company.
About Our Blog
Steve, a Parsons Training Client, went from 400 pounds to Running half-marathons, from lifting pizzas to lifting hundreds of pounds through training with us.