Weight machines get a bad rap in the strength training community, but these five are worth your time in the pump shop.
Most gyms these days are jam packed with machines, and I’d say 90% of them are completely useless if you’re an athlete, or just a dude trying to get big and strong. If it were up to me, gyms would be filled with benches, Olympic platforms, power racks, and dumbbells, but unfortunately the world doesn’t work that way.
Fortunately, there are a few diamonds in the rough worth paying tribute to every once in a blue moon. So let’s walk through which ones deserve a place in your training routine and you can take it from there.
Leg Press (1 Leg):
The problem with some machines is that their range of motion is very limiting. While I’d never tell you that leg presses are as good as squats, performing them one leg at a time can be worthwhile. Whenever you isolate a muscle like this, it’s gonna be pretty damn hard. Do them right, do them heavy, and feel that fiery burn we all love. Go to parallel (or even a little below if you wanna get crazy with it) and mix these in whenever it’s time to work out your wheels. 4 sets of 10 on each leg will do the trick.
I like to either begin, or end, my chest workout with this trusty machine. Use it as a warm-up as you’ll work a broad range of motion (that you may not completely hit while doing old fashioned flies), but use it as a finisher by dialing up the reps (talking 3 sets of 25 or so). Any way you slice it, the Pec Deck will help get you the separation in your pecs you’re looking for. Squeeze when you get to the end of the motion and keep your hands open on the bars to get maximum pump action.
T Bar Rows:
Some form of a row is a MUST on back day or during your upper body workouts. These beasts offer a full range of motion when working the lats,and provide you with a safety net when you’re absolutely shot from going harder than anyone else in the gym. Additionally, they’ll give you a level of isolation that few back exercises can provide. When I’m repping 315 on bent over rows (yes, you read that right) I admittedly use a little momentum from my hips, arms, legs, and upper back. Try doing that on the T bar row machine and you’ll be in for a rude awakening. Again, 4 sets of 8-10 will put you in a nice place.
There’s a reason these bad boys have been around and stayed around… they work! I try to keep strict form for these, focusing on controlling the movement both on the way down and on the way back up (read: no swinging). Stick with these to get those huge lats and V shape we’re all striving for. SHEZ orders 4 sets of 10-12 on these.
Bicep Cable Curls:
Big guns aren’t a secret. Basic, heavy, dumbbell and barbell curls, are always part of the answer. But if you’re doing the same thing over and over again the gun show will adapt, and your results won’t be what they once were. That’s why you’ll wanna mix in some bicep cable curls. You’ll get a sick contraction if you squeeze at the end of the motion, and can use these as a great finisher to the end of any arm workout. Try doing 3 sets of 15-20 and you’ll see why these made the list.
Look, a wider variety of weight machines can work well for old people, or for those just starting out in the iron game. But that ain’t you, so leave ‘em alone. Think about only using the machines above, as they’ll help even the real meats put on a few kilos. Get involved, get after it, and remember, if not you, then who?
If you're trying to get stronger and build muscle, 1R would recommend the following supplements in addition to the exercises above: