5 Benefits of Using Weightlifting Machines
Strength training provides a number of benefits and the primary feature of machines is that they use cams and pulleys to place the greatest amount of resistance at the point where a particular muscle is in its strongest position, thus helping that muscle to develop to its fullest potential. If the goal of an exercise program is to create large, well-defined muscles, machine training can be an extremely functional way to achieve that outcome.
Here are six benefits of weight machines that can help you reconsider whether it’s worthwhile adding them to your clients’ programs.
1. Controlling mechanical overload and path of motion
Mechanical overload is the amount of physical force placed on a muscle and is essential for stimulating muscle growth. Compound barbell lifts require optimal range-of-motion from a number of joints. If one of those joints does not function properly, it could cause an injury. Because exercise machines control the path of motion and place the greatest amount of force where a muscle is the strongest, it can be a safe way to apply the overload necessary to stimulate muscle growth.
2. Placing resistance specifically on the contractile element of muscle
There are two components of muscle: the elastic component of fascia and the connective tissue responsible for providing shape and transmitting forces from one section of muscle to another, and the contractile element of the actin and myosin protein filaments responsible for controlling muscle contractions. Improving muscle size and strength requires using external resistance to stimulate the contractile element to become capable of generating higher levels of force. Machine training can be extremely effective for achieving this outcome.
3. Creating metabolic overload
Metabolic overload occurs when a muscle is required to work to a point of momentary fatigue and does not have the energy to generate another contraction. Muscle growth occurs either as a result of mechanical or metabolic overload. A long-time bodybuilding secret for achieving rapid muscle growth is the use of drop sets, which involves doing an exercise to the point of momentary fatigue, immediately lowering (dropping) the weight, and then continuing to the next point of exhaustion. Machines provide the safest and most time-efficient means of being able to perform drop sets to the point of complete fatigue, which ensures that all fibers in a particular muscle have been engaged.
4. Time-efficient solution for circuit training
Circuit training requires transitioning from one exercise to another with a minimal amount of rest and can be effective for creating both a mechanical and metabolic overload for your clients. You might design circuits featuring barbells, kettlebells and weight sleds and encourage your clients to work to the point of fatigue. However, it can be intimidating for clients to use this equipment on their own. The solution is to design a machine-based circuit for your clients to follow when you’re not working directly with you, which allows them to experience the benefits of circuit training without the need to know how to properly use advanced equipment.
5. Focus on developing definition in specific muscles
In addition to the many health benefits of strength training, including improved metabolic efficiency, enhanced neuromuscular coordination or stronger muscles, many clients simply want to look better. Muscle definition is the result of a muscle remaining in a state of semi-contraction. Machines are designed to create mechanical overload in a specific muscle, which means they can help improve definition in that muscle. One unique programming strategy is to do a compound, multijoint exercise (e.g., a barbell squat) followed immediately by a muscle-isolation exercise (e.g., a machine-based hamstring curl) to continue using a specific muscle to the point of fatigue, which results in greater definition.
So, now you know of 5 benefits for using weightlifting machines, but what about gym wear? Check out our options today here.