Weight training is becoming quite popular these day. So popular in fact, that I bought a barbell gym and put my bald silhouette on the windows… People are starting to realize the benefits of training with a purpose, as opposed to just “exercising”. Getting stronger is always better… Stronger increases resiliency to injury, stronger looks better and stronger improves confidence. As complicated as most things are, getting stronger is fairly straightforward. All you have to do is lift more than the week prior…
However, getting stronger involves moving. Generally picking up something heavy and sitting it back down again. These movements are things that we do every day: squatting, deadlifting, pressing and carrying. If you have read a number of my articles, you will notice this trend of biomechanical proficiency. Mastering simple movements to move heavy weight. But, these mechanics get lost in the world of machines and corporate facilities that would rather have your monthly membership as opposed to providing you with some sort applicable information.
I have observed at many gyms outside of a professional setting and clients spend hours on futile movements that yield zero proficiency. Instead, individuals are shown how to use machines that isolate and take the synergistic abilities away from the body. We are meant to use multiple muscle groups to complete any given task. This is how your body works outside of the gym, so why not train in a similar fashion?
This Is Dangerous
When I say deadlift or squat, most think of a complicated or dangerous movement that is suitable for only a small portion of the population. This is a fallacy. If you are on a program that does not base its primary movements around a barbell, you should get your money back. To clarify, there are a certain portions of the populous who have pathologies that may effect their kinesthetics or ability to perform these mechanics. Of course, I want to include all able bodied individuals regardless of age into the the population that I am discussing. Performing these barbell exercises weekly improves movements patterns. The great thing about these patterns is that they can be made stronger…We want to produce a gym full of skillful individuals as opposed to ones who are stuck on a machine’s path of movement. Remember, if we do not routinely strengthen our muscles, they will lose their ability to generate force. For the young and the old, we want to be able to induce the body’s ability to adapt and become better. The best way for this is strength training…
When we age, we become more sedentary. We perceive aging as a weakening experience. Skeletal loading becomes a young man’s game and we would rather sit on the sofa and watch CSI. The loss of lean muscle mass is the culprit behind a lot of individual’s aging issues. It is true that things slow down when we get older but more importantly, preserving our lean muscle mass will keep our metabolism high and help with our chronological aging. One of the worse things we can do as we age is to stop moving….
Rise of the Machines
Most machines involve a single joint and are fairly easy to just sit down and use. This is because the manufacturer has predetermined the pathway you are going to take when using one of their pieces of equipment. This modality of training is precised as safer and easier. With a barbell or other free weights, we are in control of both the weight and path taken. When using a machine, we are only in control of the weight being applied to attached stack. You are not working your body synergistically and therefore, are reinforcing patterns that limit yourself from becoming skillful.
It is easy to furnish a gym full of machines and hire a staff that can put clients on a circuit of bicep curls. When it comes to teaching with free weights, it takes a bit more education and understanding of how human anatomy functions. It will cost you more money to hire a professional that can adequately load and analyze a movement that involves a multitude of joints and muscles at the same time. However, the information that you will receive from this coach is more beneficial than the individual making you do 100 leg extensions per week. They will make you better and facilitate your growth through each phase of your training experience.
Almost Done Ranting
I know what you are thinking. People are different and not everyone wants to deadlift and squat. This is unfortunately true. Some people are happy walking their dog for 10 minutes at night or going for a run a few times per week. However, these activities cannot replicate the benefits that you receive from weight training. This may seem a bit dogmatic but, if we are not teaching individuals in the gym a sustainable way to become stronger, then we are wasting their time. Becoming skillful and stronger is always better.