The Top 10 ways to get big by using machines

Written by The FLEX staff

June 2, 2008


If there's one vision we have when it comes to the term "weightlifting," it's the hardcore depiction of a sweaty, grunting, vein-popping monolith-of-a-man clenching dumbbells the size of semi-truck tires in his tired, white-knuckled grasp. Rarely do we imagine this same colossal giant placing a pin into the desired weight stack on a leg extension machine as he holds the little handle bars attached to the cushy pad upon which he sits for that day's leg workout.

We hate to burst their bubble, but these men have a confession to make. Even they have admitted in the past that there are a few benefits of weight machines. Here, we expose the 10 advantages of machines that they themselves have shamefully admitted are important. But take it all in now, because chances are, they will deny this had ever been said:

A machine's paramount purpose is to isolate individual muscles so you can work them more thoroughly. If one of them is lagging, a machine can help it close the gap, making it more proportionate with the rest of the bodypart.

By isolating individual muscles, you can sculpt as many details into your physique or change its shape as you wish. Would you like to create more swell and width in your upper pecs? Then an incline press-flye machine is your solution. How about lengthening the peak of your biceps? Use a one-arm preacher curl machine with a fixed handle. Get the idea?

You hear weightlifters talk about "throwing around free weights," but have you ever considered how much energy is wasted with them? After wrestling with those things for a while, a lot of energy has been depleted by the first rep. A chest press machine, on the other hand, cannot be "thrown around." You can lock yourself into position and send all of your energy directly into your pecs, without any of it being shunted into the shoulders, lats and triceps.

Shoulders, back, chest and legs are areas containing many muscles, all of which need to be worked from numerous angles. The machines for each body part are so varied that you can hit each muscle from a plethora of different angles. To attempt all of these variations with free weights would be exhausting.

Many times in the past, it has been said that weight machines and top bodybuilders are not synonymous. We challenge this statement.

Written by The FLEX staff

June 2, 2008


Resistance of a machine is more linear and controllable over a greater range of motion compared to free weights. More power can be applied to start the contraction at further extension, which means the muscle can be worked more effectively over a longer range. The machine allows a harder squeeze for total muscle breakdown.

The smooth and consistent tension offered by machines enables you to pump out more superior repetitions, thereby filling the muscle with more blood and taking it beyond the normal point of failure. This is one of those rare cases where higher reps build more muscle.

Machines now make weight fluctuations more effective. The transition between changing weight is much quicker, and you're better able to put more power into the lighter burn reps.

For those days when you think you don't have enough time to get in your full workout, you can approximate it in less time with machines. With free weights, you have to get off the bench after every set to pile plates on the bar, or strip them off and rack them, or pull out a set of dumbbells, carry them over to a bench and return them when you've finished. With a machine, all you do is reset a pin.

Bodybuilding comes with all sorts of injuries and hazards, not just awesome definition. With a machine, however, you're locked into position, so cheating is much more difficult, and it reduces your chances of injuring yourself.

For those who are trying to rehabilitate an injury, machines are number one in my book. Their pressure is direct, localized and smoothly applied, without dangerous stress surges against the injured muscle. This allows it to strengthen at a more gentle and controlled rate.

Realistically, if it's mass you're going for, machines cannot produce the compound muscularity that constitutes size. On the other hand, an ideal workout that builds both size and complete muscularity would definitely include machines. Just make sure you don't train using machines only, and apply the same vigorous intensity as you would by using free weights. As long as you remember the "no pain, no gain" adage, you will see results. FLEX.