Machines do a better job at distributing stress from start to finish. Also, machines can be a safer alternative. This is extremely useful when you don’t have a spotter.
Try swapping these five exercises in to get a serious pump.
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When using the pec deck, be sure to play around with hand positioning—like moving them higher up the machine—to find what position allows you to better contract your muscles and is easiest on your joints.
A pec-deck flye’s resistance comes from a weight stack—which means that you’re fighting gravity during its rise—so there’s tension throughout the movement.
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Maintain a slight arch in your back when performing lat pulldowns, and be sure to lead with your elbows when pulling the weight down to just below your chin.
A pulldown has three distinct advantages over a pullup:
First, it allows you to calibrate the resistance more precisely—if you can’t do 10 pullups, you can select a weight that lets you get 10 reps.
Second, it’s easier to change where you feel the exercise, depending on grip and handle attachments, like a V-bar handle, or using a very wide grip.
Finally, you’re able to focus more on contractions. Few people can repeatedly pause and flex in the up position of an unassisted pullup, but everyone can find a weight that lets them do so in the down position of a pulldown.
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A bodyweight crunch is a movement with a short range of motion, where virtually all the tension is at the contraction.
While a good crunch machine won’t lengthen the range of motion, it will distribute the stress equally from start to finish.
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4. Machine Curl
During the top halves of reps, the tension is reduced—in fact, the weight is moving down at the very top of the movement, eliminating all tension from the biceps.
One way to counter this is to use chains or bands, thus increasing resistance throughout reps. Or you can load up the weight and perform negatives.
Use a little body English to get the weight up, and then slowly lower it down to a count of five Mississippi.
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As with preacher curls, the tension reduces at the top of the movement. Just before contractions, the weight is traveling nearly parallel to the floor, and this is true whether you’re lying, seated, or standing. However, by doing these with a cable, you’re fighting the gravitational pull of the weight stack, even at the end.
Pushdowns allow you to flex your tri’s against tension at contractions.