Here’s a question I got last week from a potential client at a coffee meeting…
“Mike, what exercise machines will we use in workouts?”
To put it bluntly… No.
I stopped using exercise machines around 6-7 years for this BIG reason:
…It’s not functional movement.
Now, the term “Functional movement” gets thrown around a lot in the fitness industry…however it simply reflects activities and movement patterns in your daily life. Every such movement requires the use of your core, right? So why eliminate it and train in a fixed range of motion with weights machines?
Think back to prehistoric times, did man and woman sit down on a machine and perform a Leg Press or Lat Pulldown, NO!!
You see, the shiny, expensive machines at the gym may seem like the right idea, but it’s not necessary to get a time efficient, fat burning workout.
Try these 7 simple exercise substitutions! It will help improve your co-ordination and core strength so you burn more calories and feel a million bucks :)
7 Exercise Substitutions for Faster Fat Loss
Swap THIS => For THIS
1. Hip Machines => Lateral Lunges
Why? The fixed range of motion on the inner/outer thigh (aka adductors/abductors) machine targets one area on your hip. But there’s nothing remotely like these movements in real life! These muscles are designed for stabilizing – so that’s how you should train them.
Try lateral lunges instead. This exercise targets your glutes, inner thigh, hamstrings and quads – plus requires core engagement and integration. You will improve your hip mobility, lower body stability and burn more calories in the process.
2. Chest Press Machines => Push Ups
Why? Go for push ups. This move is simply a moving plank (one of my favorite core exercises).
If you can’t do a full push up yet, make that your first goal. Start with an incline (raise your hands, rather than drop your knees to the ground). No girly push-ups, ok? Knees to the floor and you lose core involvement, which is a major component of a full push up.
No problem busting out a ton of push ups? Challenge yourself – try decline push ups, Spiderman push ups or suspend your feet from a TRX and do Atomic Push Ups. Oohh my abs hurt just thinking about it. ;)
3. Incline Leg Press => Squats
Why? The leg press machine puts a ridiculous amount of force on the discs in your lower back. The expert research on this topic speaks for itself.
Dr. Stuart McGill has dedicated his whole life to researching lower back disorders and is a professor of spinal mechanics at the University of Waterloo. His book “Low Back Disorders” has quality research that suggests the 45-degree leg press machine could seriously damage your lower back.
Learn to love squats. Your bodyweight is the perfect resistance to start with. Work to improve your mobility, and core integration before you add weight to mix.
4. Glute machine => Step Ups or Martial Arts Kicks
Why? Get a sexy butt without spending an hour at Barre class. Switch to step ups – there are plenty of variations to sculpt a lean, defined butt without stepping anywhere near a machine.
As a bonus, you engage your core at the same time and this movement transfers to your daily life. Climbing the stairs? It will be a breeze.
Martial Arts kicks like the Front Kick are great for tightening those Glutes, engaging your core if you lift those knees and kick out high, even the Roundhouse Kicks, Side Kicks will also work those Glutes and that Core Mid Section.
5. Leg Extension Machine => Lunges
Why? Target your quads, hamstrings and glutes all in one move. Isolating and training only your quads on the leg extension machine not only sets you up for muscle imbalances, but it causes excessive strain on your knee.
Once you have the basic lunge down, progress to reverse lunges and the Bulgarian split squat. Oohh good times. Expect burning quads. Sexy burning quads.
6. Bicep Curls Machine => Chin ups
Why? The bicep curl is an isolated exercise, hitting one muscle group. Maximize your time and hit the whole upper body instead – yes, chin-ups are a tough exercise that requires multiple, large muscle group recruitment.
Struggling to pull your bodyweight? You can use a resistance band for assistance, or do negative chin-ups. You will get stronger, burn more calories in less time and your biceps will look lean and sexy.
7. Elliptical/Treadmill Intervals => Bodyweight Cardio Intervals
Why? Getting tired of the same old interval workout?
Yeah, I know intervals of “30s on, 30s off” gets awfully boring after a while…
You can change up your intervals to “20s on, 10s off” or “45s on, 15s off” etc…It’s WAY more fun. Plus, there are ways of designing great interval workouts like the Accelerators that many of you have been doing in your workouts this style of workout combines big movements that hit multiple muscle groups at the same time so you boost your metabolism and burn a ton of calories.
You will also notice a dramatic difference in your metabolism after just ONE workout, and your body will start changing in days.
So forget the gym and machines, train the right way for results with functional movements and your personal trainer..
See you in training
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