The reason for this... MARKETING! It's much easier for the salesperson to sell you a gym membership by touring you through row after row of sleek and futuristic looking machines. They'll probably even demonstrate one of these amazing novelties and ask you to give it a try for yourself.
You'll sit in their machine, and they will select a very easy weight and have you perform a few reps. Then they'll tell you how you just have to follow a simple color coding or numbering system to get in great shape and... presto, you're be back at the sales desk signing a membership contract.
The Rise of the Machines was predicated by the need for gyms to sell memberships. They changed the basic paradigm for what a gym really is. They made it into a showroom to tour clients.
A gym should really be a workshop for craftsmen (and craftswomen) to build healthy, functional and beautiful bodies. This kind of a workshop only requires a few pieces of equipment, a pull-up bar, an adjustable bench, a set of dumbbells and some other assorted free weights (barbells/squat rack). That's it. Basically, what you need is the BASICS (big surprise).
But this would be a tough sell for the Fitness Consultant (i.e. Salesperson) at your local chain gym. A sales tour that took you past a rack of dumbbells and a row of benches and squat racks would not be nearly as persuasive as a stroll through the gleaming machine showroom.
People were getting into great shape way before The Rise of the Machines, how do you think they did this? Answer: FREE WEIGHTS.
Your body and all human bodies are designed to lift and move objects against the force of gravity, they are designed to move "free weights."
The body is also hardwired for survival. We have a programed fight or flight response. Under stress our bodies trigger the sympathetic nervous system and begin pumping adrenaline into the bloodstream. From my personal experience, I find that using free weights does a much better job of activating the body's survival response and releasing endorphins that create a natural high. I simply do not see people getting that jazzed or high on life while using machines, usually the people on machines look really bored and boredom leads to the 3 most common exercises in any gym. Check out this article to find out what they are: http://transformationsuperchallenge.blogspot.com/2008/10/post-up-and-park-bench.html
I'd like to coin a new term for machine exercises, I think they should be called "Forced Weights" because machines force you to use a specific and often unnatural range of motion. They force you to fit the exercise instead of vice versa.
Free Weights allow for a natural range of motion. Using dumbbells allows you to perform exercise like the chest press and shoulder press in natural arcs, unlike machines which force you to press the weight in a straight line. Using Free Weights develops balance and coordination as you are responsible for guiding the weight through the complete range of motion. Furthermore, Free Weight exercises fit you! Since the weights move freely through your range of motion your body is able to align itself naturally with proper form and posture.
TSCers, Let FREEDOM RING! Training with Free Weights fosters balance, coordination, core strength, and creates fit, healthy and beautiful bodies. Get in the gym and make it happen.
ONE SMALL CAVEAT: Occasionally, machines makes sense, like if you are working with a physical therapist to rehabilitate an injury. However, if you are an able-bodied person use FREE WEIGHTS!
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