I spent some time being very anti-gym for a few years…
This was a personal issue, it was no gyms fault…
But I was just frustrated with what I was seeing and wanted to distance myself from the world’s addiction to isolated, assisted, guided, cabled, “strength” training machines.
On top of the goons using them repeatedly, throwing their back out to do bicep curls on a guided, cable, machine..
I was really more frustrated with seeing trainer, after trainer take middle aged and older aged people through all sorts of cable exercises.
Highlighting the ease of use with the assistance, and lack of strain from using machines instead of free weights.
This is not only irrational and wrong, it is ignoring the type of strength training our bodies need most in general, and especially as we age.
It is no gym-goers fault, this is strictly on the trainers and gym owners.
Let’s think through this here quickly.
What is the most common cause of injury as we age?
A quick google search describes, “Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury”
Not just injury, fatality... from falls.
So what is the root cause.
Lack of strength, sure.
But strength itself is still a fraction of the issue.
The real problem is functional strength,
and most importantly balance.
There are all sorts of benefits to strength training but you still only need some much isolated strength for you to achieve optimum health. I mean it’s a nice thing to brag about if you’re 65 and can bench press 315lbs.. But if you’re just as likely to fall over and break a bone then, who really cares about your bench press?
Avoid machines at all cost at the gym.
- Exceptions include the stationary bike, rower, and anything you use to hang on or do body weight exercises from.
Body weight training regularly.
- If you can’t do a push-up or pull-up that doesn’t mean you absolutely need a guided machine. You can hang from a bar as long as you can and keep working at doing a pull up, and you can plank in the push-up position until you are strong enough to complete one. Both of these options are much better exercises than guided pull-ups or push-ups anyways. Lunges and calf raises are always underrated and there is never a bad time to do them.
- The key to building functional strength, (just behind body-weight exercises) is free weights. This is how you build strength and balance by targeting not just major muscles that machines allow you to, but also all the smaller muscles that machines can never target. Don’t go crazy and start fake crossfitting and throw your arms all over with weights in your hands.. Remember we are trying to prevent injury, not cause it. But use free weights as often as possible when you want to exercise by strength training.