One of the biggest obstacles most beginners face when they are just getting started at a gym is what pieces of equipment should they being using. At every gym there are literally rows and rows lined up and down with all different types of exercises equipment. How do you know which ones should you use and which ones should you avoid?
Some of the traditional exercises such as sit ups and crunches can lead to lower back and neck pain. Studies have shown that exercises that cause repeated flexion of the lumbar spine promote lower back and neck pain because of the compression and stress they place on the disks. In addition they can also lead to creating muscular imbalances and postural problems, which can also lead to lower back pain and injuries.
When you do the same type of movement using an ab machine, it adds even more stress on your lower back because of the added resistance. I understand that you can really “feel” your ab muscles working while doing these types of exercises, but there are far better ways to accomplish this without the high risk of injury to your lower back.
Remember, the true function of your core is spinal stabilization, and to be able to maintain a neutral, straight-line position from your hips up to your shoulders in all 3 planes of movement (front to back, side to side, and rotational.) Ab machines only work your abs in one plane of motion and don’t work on spinal stabilization.
Better Alternatives to ab machines, crunches, and sit ups: To develop rock hard abs and a stronger solid core focus on stabilization exercises such as front, side, posterior planks, and different plank variations as well as rotational core exercises like rotational chops.
2.) Back Machines
Similar to the abs machine, back machines only train your body in one plane of movement that is ina fixed path and as a result they don’t work your body’s key stabilizer muscles.
Most people already have some type of lower back pain or have developed some muscular imbalance from spending too much time in a seated position. In most cases their range of motion has already become limited from having tight hips and inactive or weak glute muscles.
Instead of continually overloading the spinal erectors with back extension exercises, focus more on hip extension exercises that strengthen your glute muscles and add corrective stretching exercises to loosen up your hip flexors, hip rotators, and the hamstring which will help to open up your hips and reduce excessive spinal flexion and compression.
Better Alternatives to back machines: For a strong, stable back focus on glute bridges, deadlifts, good morning, and other hip extensions variations. Also, corrective stretching and self-massage of the hip flexors, hip rotators, and hamstrings will improve spinal erector endurance, strength, and stability.
3.) Hip Abductor/Adductor Machines
I don’t know what it is, but for some reason it seems like women all over the world are convinced that the hip abductor and adductor machines will somehow help them rid themselves of the thunder thigh/cellulite situation.
I could not tell you how many times I’ve been asked, “what’s the best exercise to get rid of the flab from my thighs?”
Here is the deal, unfortunately there is no such thing as spot reduction. So if you want to lose fat from your thighs no amount of direct inner or other hip-thigh work is going to burn of that fat from your thighs.
The first thing you need to do is get off the thigh master and focus on total body workouts that will get your metabolism cranked up and help you burn a ton of calories. The second is start eating a cleaner diet by eliminating all of the junk carbs and focus on eating lean proteins, veggies, fruits, and healthy fats.
Better Alternatives to hip abductor/adductor machines: The best exercises for your inner and outer-hip thigh will come from single leg exercises such as various types of lunges, step ups, and single leg squats. Lateral band walks, squats, and deadlifts are also good choices.
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