Choosing equipment: Where to start?
Chances are if you’ve never been to a gym before, you can get easily overwhelmed by the amount of equipment to choose from.
You’ll most likely find equipment like resistance machines (RMs), machines with cables and pulleys and free weights (dumbbells, kettlebells, barbells, and plates)
And of course, the cardio equipment, like treadmills, cross-trainers, and rowing machines.
If you missed Part 1, you can catch it here
When it comes to strength and hypertrophy (muscle-gaining) training, the reality is that there is not a one size fits all approach. Well, pretty much with everything that relates to exercise, nutrition and health there will not be one approach that is best for everyone.
However, the RMs in any commercial gym have a very general design and they may not fit every BODY properly. If you struggle to get an exercise done in an RM or feel your body wiggling and trying to adjust all the time, it may well be because the RM is not adjusted properly, or it just has one setting.
If you look closely, most RMs will have some sort of lever you can pull at different parts of it to adjust high or distance. For example, a leg press (pic below) machine has a lever you can pull to adjust the seat and make it as comfortable for you as possible.
Unfortunately, not all of them have these and some are fixed in a position.
Cable machines add the component of having to work on the stability of your body as you do an exercise.
Cables are incredibly useful as they allow us to perform movements with more freedom and we can set up the machine and our body positioning to ensure we move in the most effective way for the group of muscles we are trying to work on. Due to how much we can adjust them and our position, they are fantastic for upper-body exercises but also for lower-body, especially glute work
One of the main issues with cable machines is that it can be hard to find stability when we need it.
Let’s say we are doing a very heavy pull down and we will need our free hand to hold onto something so we can pull with the other side without compensation, it might be tricky to find something to hold onto!
Ideally, we want to use both, RMs and cable machines to extract their benefits and optimize our results.
And of course, these are not the only 2 modalities you can use when it comes to weight training.
From experience, if you are a beginner, I would recommend sticking to these, unless you don´t have access to them, such as when you train from home.
Once again, a combination of all the tools can be a great way of making the most profit from your sessions. However, not all tools are good for everyone at any given time of their training. That’s when hiring a coach could come in handy 😉
Elements like barbells, dumbbells, and kettlebells are especially useful when we don’t have access to machines. If you are training from home, you can do most exercises with these and some resistance bands.
Free weights can be fantastic to work on the stability of the joints as you work on your strength and hypertrophy.
Stabilizing a movement with nothing or very little to hold you (if you do movements assisted by a bench you can find some stability there) can be a real challenge. And it is a pro as it is a con.
The added element of adjustability and needing to stabilize joint movement will not allow us to lift as heavy as with a machine in most cases (let’s not include powerlifters here who train specifically for that)
So, if you have the opportunity to exercise at a gym, combining these with the machines will be the best choice to cover all your needs and optimize your sessions.
Find Part 3 of this blog, in this link :)