It was all the fault of the “Globolgym”. You know, the large chain that I have a lifetime membership to. When I joined back in 1984 it was Holiday Spa, then it was Bally’s now it is something that will remain un-named. Each iteration removed more of my beloved free weight equipment, replacing it with soulless machines. From a business standpoint this is great. Your instructors don’t really have to know physiology or spend time teaching people to do a barbell lift correctly, don’t have a ton of weights lying around and you can move people in and out fast.
But, I still believed in the magic of free weights and the benefits of using them in ways that mimic real life. Movements that move weight and utilize balance. Efficient movements that train whole muscle groups at one time. Not some artificial axis, groove or plane determined by a machine to isolate a particular muscle.
So, I waited…..again for a chance to get in the power rack and move some iron. Again, wasting time because the equipment that would do most gym members the most good have been replaced with a machine. Time I could be building strength and muscle instead of watching people flail away on a machine with the same weights they used last week, last month and probably last year. Then I got angry with the waiting and left.
Having belonged to a gym for years, I learned a long time ago that lifting free weights was the best way to improve your body, it’s strength and its look. Progressive weight training with a barbell stresses your body in way that can’t be duplicated by a machine. Let’s use the king of exercises the squat and compare it to a leg press.
The pictures show that you work both your quadriceps and your gluteus muscle groups in the leg press. A decent exercise as far as machine exercises go. But compare it to a squat.
Look at how many more muscles are worked in the squat. You hit the same quads and glutes but also back, shoulders and abdominals are called in to assist. This is a picture of a front squat but the preferred back squat works a few more muscles. (couldn’t find a picture.) Don’t know about you, but if I am busting my butt in the gym, I want to get more work done in less time. Exercises that work more muscle groups at one time are more efficient than doing multiple exercises that work one or two muscles at a time. Compared to the leg press, the squat is an exercise bargain.
Back to the gym, or actually leaving the gym in disgust. Went right home and got on the computer to find a gym that offered more real weight training equipment. I knew from past experience that a person could train on three to five exercises and make more progress in a shorter amount of time with the right system and equipment. My must haves were;
- Must have enough free weights so waiting was a thing of the past’
- Must be newbie friendly. Even though I trained years ago, I am 55 and have lapsed back to “beginner”.
- Must be reasonably close.
In the next installment we will cover what I found in my area.