Whether you should train using an exercise machine, such as a leg press, or use free weights or bodyweight is an ongoing debate within the trainer /coaching world. if you’re not a trainer or a coach, you may not care.
But you should.
You’ll make better choices, reduce your risk of injury, and improve your outcome when you know more about the good and not so good things of exercise machines.
The Rise of The Machine
The birth of what we now know as resistance exercise machines was in the 1948 spearheaded by Arthur Jones and his Nautilus machine.
Jones’ “cam” system within the Nautilus machines delivered more uniform resistance throughout an arc of motion. He believed this provided a better ‘workout” over free weights since with a free weight the muscle effort varied as you moved. He also thought it would be safer since you could isolate muscles more easily and there was less risk of dropping a weight on your head or foot for example. power press machine manufacturers
Following the Nautilus was Universal with the first “multi-station” gym that you often see in hotel fitness rooms.
Prior to the Nautilus and Universal devices, gyms were filled with “trainers”, free weights and, as a result, a small membership size. But, the machines changed all of that. Now, a gym owner no longer needed a trainer. Consumers could just hop on a machine, do their exercises, and be done. Gyms suddenly became huge facilities with equally huge numbers of members. Gym owners counted on members signing up and then not using their membership.
Since the Nautilus, there have a been a number of technical improvements in the resistance exercise machine industry but little has been written for consumers about how to decide if they should use a machine or not.
The Pros of Resistance Exercise Machines
Ease of use. Exercise machines make movements easier by isolating the body part or region. For example, a leg press machine removes the requirement of managing a barbell on your shoulders and a seated bicep curl doesn’t require you to control your trunk and hips. It’s also easier to adjust the load on the fly than a free weight.