The use of exercise machines can be a controversial topic in the world of fitness. There are people that will tell you fitness machines are worthless when compared with free weight exercises. Robert Taylor is not one of those people.
As the owner of SMARTER Team Training, Robert is one of the best strength and conditioning coaches in the world, and it frustrates him to hear about the supposed deficiencies of strength training on machines, particularly when the body has no idea where the stress being exerted upon it is coming from. As such, Robert has identified six exercise machines he finds to be ideal for anyone attempting to improve themself through strength training.
The Lower Body
Squats have long been considered to be the primary movements of lower-body training, but the standard barbell squat can create issues for athletes that have limitations caused by unique body shapes and other physical limitations. Fortunately, Robert has some machines in mind that can help those for whom squatting is a chore.
1. The Pit Shark Belt Squat
“The belt squat from Pit Shark does an incredible job providing an alternative to the standard barbell squats,” Robert explained. “It gives an individual an opportunity to train the squat movement in a efficient and progressive manner.”
2. The Pendulum Power Squat Pro
“If someone doesn’t bend well with the bar, we can justify the range of motion with the Power Squat Pro at both the bottom and the top,” Robert said. “The Power Squat Pro also provides the individual the ability to limit the range of motion if they have a knee or hip injury or an inability to bend well.”
3. The Pendulum Seated Squat Pro
“The Seated Squat Pro is a unilateral hip press,” Robert pointed out. “You’re pushing one leg independently of the other. If you’re doing a barbell squat, you have no idea how much stress is going to your right leg as opposed to your left leg. When we use the Seated Squat Pro, if you’re pushing equally hard and your right leg goes all the way up and your left leg only goes half way, there’s an imbalance there, and potentially a cause for an injury or a performance limitation.”
There are plenty of ways to train the muscles of your body in order to strengthen them, but some movements are more efficient than others. Moreover, the arrangement of the shoulder joint makes it unsettlingly easy for athletes to injure themselves in the weight room if they’re not being careful. With that in mind, here are Robert’s recommendations for machines that focus on training the upper body.
4. The Pendulum Shoulder Incline
“This machine is a multi-function shoulder press made by Rogers,” Robert said. “It’s an incline combo press that goes from an incline press to a shoulder press. If you’re not very good at directly overhead pressing, it can be adjusted so the resistance comes out in front of you, which may alleviate some of the tension in the shoulder joint. During practices or games, you might get hit in the side from a collision and your shoulder might not feel good, so the shoulder may feel better when training in a more anterior position that day. That adjustment can be made quickly right on the equipment.”
5. The Pendulum Lat Combo Pull
“Have you ever really isolated the lats when training on a lat pulldown?” Robert asked. “You can attach arm slings that apply resistance to the elbows. Starting about shoulder level and pulling your elbow down to the side of your body, that’s a little more of an all-lat exposure. If you’re actually putting something in your hand, your bicep and grip will become a limiting factor in how strong your back can become. So we’ll put your arm in a sleeve to prefatigue the lats. Rogers has both of those options on their Combo Lat Pull and 3-Way Row. The part of the 3-Way Row that I really like is you can go from a neutral position and actually have a handle that rotates a little bit so you can actually squeeze and get real tight up into the chest. They actually have an underhand position and an overhand option too. It really gives us an opportunity to train the bicep and back through a really good, full range of motion.”
6. The Pit Shark Weighted Push Up
“Pit Shark makes a machine called the Weighted Push-Up that we use to progressively overload the push-up movement in multiple hand positions,” Robert said. “This piece is helping clients’ bench press and horizontal pushing numbers to go up. You also have to engage your lower back, your abs and your glutes to make sure everything is staying tight. If you’re lying on your back doing bench press, you don’t necessarily have to do this, and most people don’t. The bottom part of that range of motion comes from a lat-type movement, and if you’re not being solid through that position, you’re not going to move a lot of weight.”
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