Your (long awaited) Second Fitness Commandment

I must confess that I don’t have a 100% foolproof way of making this list of Fitness Commandments, because I feel like there should be some sort of hierarchy with them… like the first one should be the most important, then each successive post less (yet obviously, still) important.  Having given it (too much) thought, I’ve decided to scrap any notion of continuity and just tell you to do things as I come up with them.  Sound good?

Anyhow, the last Commandment was, Do Not Chase Shiny Objects.  Basically, don’t look to reinvent the wheel every time you’ve been doing something for more than a month or two.

Today, I bring you Commandment number two:

No machines.

Simple, right?

Stay away from machines.  I could go on for a really long time about why you shouldn’t use machines (Quick definition of “machine”: if it has a picture saying something like “leg extension” and has a highlighted picture of a faceless human from the ’80s showing you which muscles will be used during the exercise, it’s a machine), but instead, I’ll focus on a few quick reasons why you should adhere to this commandment.

First, we’re not all the same size, yet we all have to use the same machine.  I’m 6’5″, and I have to use the same machine that a 5’3″ woman would use.  I don’t care how many seat adjustments a machine has, there is going to be some point of rotation or some lever arm that won’t fit your body correctly.  Yes, I realize I just used the term “lever arm,” so let’s just put it this way – machines put undue stress on your joints and can lead to injury.

Second, your body knows how to move without some machine telling it how to move.  And believe it or not, your body has all kinds of muscles responsible for stabilizing our movements, muscles that get largely left out of machine workouts.  For simplicity’s sake: if your big muscles get stronger while your little muscles stay the same, you’re way more likely to get hurt.

Finally, you know how I mentioned seat adjustments in the first reason?  Why are you sitting around when you’re supposed to be working out in the first place?

Above all, this last reason is what I’d really like to focus on for this Commandment.

There are some things that people do that make no sense to me, and they fail to see the underlying correlations involved.  Example: as we’ve done more and more to encourage low-fat diets we’ve gotten fatter and fatter.  While it’s possible from a strictly scientific standpoint that this is purely coincidental, to believe otherwise is, to put it nicely, to act like a damn fool.  More on this in a future post, though.

For today, let’s focus on the fact that, as we’ve become more and more sedentary as a culture, we’ve decided to turn to, get this – machines.  You know… the things we invented to decrease the amount of work we have to do?  Yeah, those.

Machines are fundamentally, diametrically opposed to physical exertion, which, unless I’m really missing something, is the whole point of working out in the first place.

Furthermore, anything you can do with a machine, you can do more effectively without one.  For example, a good squat is far more effective at working the various muscles of the legs/hips than a leg extension, leg curl, etc.  Not to mention, it’s a real time-saver not having to break the body down into every muscle you have (little known fact: you have a lot of muscles in your body).

Now that you have Commandment number two, all you have to do is sit back and wait for me to create more Commandments (I’m assuming your schedule is very open).  In the meantime, if you have any questions about what to do instead of using a machine, make sure to put them in the comments section.

‘Til next time!



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2 responses to “Your (long awaited) Second Fitness Commandment

  1. Cindy

    What about treadmills, cybex and the like? I have to say I love using ’em when the rain continues to pour, and pour and pour…

    • Machines like treadmills don’t guide you through the movement. You still have to do the entire thing yourself. Another example of a “good” machine is a pulley-based machine. The person using it has to control and stabilize the entire movement. My gripe is with machines like the ones I described – ones where you sit down and move through a guided movement that works whatever muscles are pictured in the cartoon pasted on the machine. Hope that helps – thanks, Cindy!

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