Machines - Progressing to the Top
Machines are the starting point for most new gym member and are a great starting point and many are still used even when you become a more advanced gym goer.
Many machines, like the shoulder press and chest press, are very similar to the free weight shoulder and chest press. Below I will outline the easiest way to transition from machines to free weights or even give you an alternative to add into your existing workouts.
As with all your workouts, you should ease into every new technique that you try out. Give time for your muscles to repair and ensure that you stay energised
4 Steps to Transition from Machine
1 - Chest press
There are two progressions from the chest press machine, there is the barbell bench press and the dumbbell press both are very similar but the barbell is the easier one to move to as the bar moves as one when being pressed whereas the dumbbells move independent and can be dangerous so start light when doing this and focus on form rather than weight.
2 - Seated row
This exercise can be progressed in 3 steps, starting with the seated row machine then onto the cable row as this has no chest pad to hold you in position you need to keep your posture in mind and not lean back or forwards too much then onto the free weight row.
Barbell row and dumbbell row are two options for this, grab a barbell, stick your bum out and keep your back straight now the bar should be over or just slightly above your knees, from there row the bar up keeping it close to your body then lower back down to the knees.
The dumbbell row is slightly different and is done one arm at a time, using a bench place one hand on the head rest part and your knee on the back pad keep your back straight and row the dumbbell from the floor up to your chest and lower back down.
3 - Shoulder press
Similar to the other progressions there are two alternatives to move onto, using both dumbbells and barbells the easier of the two being the barbell shoulder press as many gyms have racks where you can set up the bar and if needed re-rack if you are struggling with the exercise.
When doing a barbell press it is important to bring the bar down in front of you rather than behind the neck as this will cause you to strain your neck and can lead to injury.
When doing a dumbbell shoulder press it is best to start light and build up the weight as the dumbbells can move independently and could cause injury if doing too much weight or poor form.
4 - Leg extension & curl
Squats, squats and more squats!! There is no better exercise for your legs than squats. They are proven to also spike the release of testosterone as they are a massive compound movement that use lots of different muscle groups. Do them properly though as they can be dangerous if done incorrectly.
The simple way to learn to squat is to grab a stability ball, place it against the wall and rest your lower back against the ball. With your feet slightly forwards and shoulder width apart, roll down the ball so you assume a seated position keeping your knees behind your toes and stand back up. That is the basic squat so once you feel that you have a good understanding of this exercise and want to progress, move onto the squat rack and do the same move with a barbell across your shoulders.
There are some simple progressions from using machines, give them a go yourself and see if you can come up with any alternatives.
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