Exercise & Fitness Blog

How To Use Gym Machines: Top 7 Problems At Your Gym

Posted on May 19 2013 in Gym Instruction

How To Use Gym Machines
Joining a gym and learning how to use gym machines can be one of the greatest ways to boost you confidence, physical condition, and even your appearance if you combine it with an effective diet.  Unfortunately, it can also lead to the complete opposite effect, specifically; an injury. The assumption made by most gym members is that the fitness center to which you belong has made choices on the equipment in the gym that are appropriate for you.  The reality is that you need to be able to identify both safe and unsafe equipment.  Not all the machines and equipment in the gym are for you.  As a matter of fact, having been in the position to advise hundreds of people how to use gym machines, I have found that there are several common problems found in fitness centers that put you at risk.

Below, I have outlined the top seven problems related to How To Use Gym Machines and solutions to these pit falls.

1. No Education On Using The Machines -  Joining a gym now a days goes something like this: after signing on the dotted line, you get charged an initiation fee, receive "FREE" training sessions, a tour of the gym, and a slap on the back to say "Good Luck."  Having spoken to thousands of gym members and personal trainers, the number one thing gym members ask to learn, is how to use the gym machines.  I created my DVD to help solve this problem and teach you how to correctly us the top 14 gym machines the RIGHT way.
Without fail, every time I go to the gym I see nine out of ten people using the machines incorrectly.  This not only reduces the effectiveness of the exercise, but increases the chances of an injury. 
The Solution:  Learn the right way to use these machines immediately!  My DVD will show you exactly how to do this!
2. The Wrong Leg Press:  The squat is one of the most important exercises you can do and the leg press is a great place to master the basics.  See my blog post explaining why learning to use the horizontal leg press properly is crucial to understand. In my gym, we have a horizontal leg press.  This is a leg press in which you lie flat on your back.  It allows for optimal spinal and postural positioning for performing a squat.   The problem is that most gyms don't buy these machines.  They have vertical leg presses or hack squats.  These machines are extremely common, but put your hips and spine in a dangerous position. 
The Solution:  There are alternative exercises to do instead of a hack squat or a reclined / vertical leg press. See my blog post about this.
3. Machines Without The Right Grip Options: Again, the assumption is that your gym has chosen he machines that give you the greatest chance of success, but unfortunately that's not always the case.  The latest and newest "State-of-the-art" equipment means only that.  it doesn't mean that the design of the machine is the safest or most appropriate.  If you have taken my FREE e-course, then you know why the neutral grip position is the safest grip of choice.  Well, what happens if the machine you are about to use doesn't have a neutral grip position?  Even if you know how to use gym machines, the machine may not be user friendly.
The Solution:  I suggest asking the gym staff for another machine that offers the ability to use neutral grip.  If not you may need to find an alternative method.  If it is the only option, be sure to use the Three Step Exercise Technique, Monitor your posture, and beware of your bodies warning signs.
4. No Upper Body Cycle: Think about it, other than cardio, how many people do you think are working upper body exercises versus lower body exercises?  The reality is, the majority of people work upper body strength with machines, cable systems, and dumbbells.  So, logically, you would think that a gym has a decent selection of upper body warm-up machines, right?  Wrong!  I belong to a 60,000 sqft. gym and they only have one upper body cycle.  It is literally hidden in the back corner of the gym and it has dust on it.  I think tha only myself and about three other people use it out of the more than 14,000 members!
The Solution:  First, ask your gym's staff where the upper body cycle is located within your fitness studio.  If they don't have one, that's unfortunate, but there is another way. 
5. Poor Machine Choices:  Well, by now you can see from the previous pitfalls, poor machine choices is an epidemic in gyms all around this country (and the world for that matter).  In addition to the prior gym problems discussed here, there are even more issues with the choice of machines a gym makes on your behalfThe first step in my Three Step Exercise Technique is setting the machine correctly.  Now, depending on your height, arm length, leg length and torso length, the machine needs to be set to fit your body correctly.  A majority of the fitness machines in gyms simply don't allow for this. 
You wouldn't wear a shoe that was two sizes to big or too small, let alone exercise in one, and the same is true about exercise machines.  Setting the seat, back rest, weight and any other settings on the machine to fit your posture is the goal.  If you can't do this properly then exercising on this machine poses a serious risk.Think about driving a car and the seat is too far back, the mirrors are all angled incorrectly, and the seatbelt doesn't fit.  You can still drive the car, but getting to your destination without an accident is unlikely.  Gym machines are exactly the same!  Now there are plenty of articles on the internet giving vague advice about using machines  but to avoid an injury, you need to learn more!
The Solution:  Set it OR Forget it!  If you can't set the machine properly, think twice about using it. Ask for help from a qualified professional, listen to your body and make sure it feels right.  Finally, in my DVD, I will teach you exactly how to set all these machines the RIGHT way.
6. Personal Trainers Aren't "Personal" Unless You're In-Session: Having been one myself, and having taught thousands of trainers over the last decade, I know they are usually focused on advanced training techniques.  Unless you belong to a specialized gym or fitness studio, trainers don't usually provide general supervision to gym members.  Now, not all trainers do this, but I have seen trainers walk past members blatantly doing exercises that are dangerous and using equipment incorrectly without saying a word!  I personally think this is irresponsible, but unfortunately, it's the truth!
The Solution:  You are responsible for the effectiveness and safety of your own workout.  Without the proper education on body consciousness, postural stability, machine set-up and execution, the results you get will be limited. To avoid an injury Learn this stuff NOW!  Click here to get started!
7. Blind Leading The Blind:  There is one final problem that I see occurring every time I set foot in a gym, and it breaks my heart.  It's the gym member who tries to teach another gym member how to exercise.  This is usually done with the greatest good intentions but often ends up with costly results.  I once heard a very fit, good looking guy who works out constantly, and is perceived as an expert tell a 65 year old guy to do weighted inclined sit-ups.  This older guy could barely perform a crunch properly.  Now that is happening in just about every gym I have eve been to.
The Solution:  On my blog, on the right hand side, I have an "Ask an Expert" section.  As a physical therapist and fitness professional, I assure you I have seen it all and will gladly give you the RIGHT advice to get results and avoid an injury.  
The Takeaway:  Understanding some of the most common pitfalls in your gym makes you more fitness intelligent and helps you avoid an injury, so you can get the most out of your work out. Listed above are some of the more common problems I see in gyms, but yours may have some different and unique issues.  Shoot me an email and I will be glad to help you   with some of the problems you have in your fitness center.
Photo Courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

In exercise, what you don't know CAN hurt you!



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