Rise of the ma­chines

Build mus­cu­lar size and strength by us­ing re­sis­tance ma­chines more ef­fec­tively

Men's Fitness - - Contents -

In­crease the amount of train­ing time you spend on weights ma­chines to build a big­ger, stronger and leaner body

1 Mas­ter es­sen­tial movements

If you’re new to the gym, or are be­gin­ning to get into lift­ing weights rather than fo­cus­ing purely on car­dio, us­ing re­sis­tance ma­chines is a great way to learn the main move­ment pat­terns in­volved in weight lift­ing in a safe and con­trolled way.

Why it works

The way ma­chines are made means the move­ment is al­ways in a fixed plane so you can only lift and lower in the cor­rect way. This builds strength, a mind­mus­cle con­nec­tion and con­fi­dence be­fore you ad­vance to free weights.

2 Iso­late spe­cific mus­cles safely

Ma­chines al­low move­ment only along a fixed path, which makes them an ef­fec­tive tool for ad­vanced lifters to tar­get spe­cific mus­cles.

Why it works

While free weights are es­sen­tial in any mus­cle-build­ing plan, you’re only as strong as your weak­est link, which is of­ten the small, sta­bil­is­ing mus­cles around a joint. When you use ma­chines these sta­bil­is­ing mus­cles are not re­cruited, al­low­ing you to lift heav­ier in safety and work a par­tic­u­lar mus­cle to its limit.

3 Come back from an in­jury

It’s in­evitable that at some point dur­ing your train­ing life you will suf­fer an in­jury, re­gard­less of the pre­cau­tions you take. And it’s when you re­turn to train­ing that ma­chines can help you re­gain strength and sta­bil­ity lost dur­ing your time on the side­lines, en­abling you ul­ti­mately to come back stronger than ever.

Why it works

Again, the fixed move­ment range of ma­chines sup­ports your ma­jor and mi­nor mus­cle groups, al­low­ing you to fo­cus on per­fect form.

4 Fire up your fast-twitch fi­bres

Mus­cles are made up of dif­fer­ent types of fi­bres, and the more fast-twitch fi­bres you have, the quicker and harder they can con­tract to make you more pow­er­ful and ex­plo­sive.

Why it works

Us­ing ma­chines for ex­plo­sive contractions – think of a fast but con­trolled move­ment to ini­ti­ate a move – is one of the most ef­fec­tive ways to build big­ger, stronger and more pow­er­ful mus­cles, ac­cord­ing to re­search from Lough­bor­ough Univer­sity.

5 Main­tain ten­sion on your mus­cles

All re­sis­tance ma­chines al­low you to main­tain more ten­sion on the work­ing mus­cles – which re­sults in greater growth – but none more so than ca­ble ma­chines.

Why it works

Ca­ble ma­chines are a half­way house be­tween fixed ma­chines and free weights be­cause you have some con­trol over the move­ment range. The best thing about them is that the weight you move re­mains the same through ev­ery stage of the rep, mak­ing your mus­cles work harder ev­ery set.

6 Power through a strength plateau

Have your strength gains hit a plateau? Us­ing ma­chines for safe ec­cen­tric lift­ing - which is where you lower a heavy weight slowly and un­der com­plete con­trol - can shock your body into get­ting stronger.

Why it works

Ec­cen­tric reps are tough to do well with free weights as you start to fa­tigue. In a study in the jour­nal Fron­tiers In Phys­i­ol­ogy, sub­jects in­creased their force pro­duc­tion, work ca­pac­ity, mus­cle ac­ti­va­tion and re­sis­tance af­ter just five weeks of ec­cen­tric lift­ing.

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