Health and Fitness

@Snakepit, if I can give my 2 cents, try to avoid weight machine assistance where you can.

My opinion is that if your own body can’t support the action, you probably shouldn’t be doing the action - I saw in SA they even have machines to guide squats.

Maybe such devices are good for competition body shaping, but they aren’t conducive to building functional, well co-ordinated and long serving bodies.
That’s just categorically false. Machines are as good or even better than free weights in many exercises. They help build muscle just as much as the latter. Not only that, but they are safer and can help people learn how to use proper form.

Squats are great but so are machine assisted ones. There’s no right or wrong answer here, they are all viable options. You cannot tell me that a person shouldn’t do machine squats if they can’t do regular ones. What if they have an injury?

What if they have back pain or knee pain? I don’t do barbell squats anymore because they hurt my knees and lower back. Yet, a pendulum squat and hack-squat machine feels like butter on my joints. Haven’t done a traditional squat in forever yet my legs are stronger than they’ve ever been.

Muscles grow from mechanical tension applied to them, there’s no difference whether that comes from free weights or machines.
 
I started gym again 3 weeks ago, using a number of different supplements. I'm 42 and I felt I needed to even the playing field, I'm not 25 anymore. I'm 6ft1 and I weigh in at 104kgs, so slightly overweight. I didn't bother easing into things like I used to do and then lost interest, I went in full blast and my skin felt it was straining to contain my muscles, which I always felt to be a good measure of the rewards I used to reap.
Rewind back to 2010, I was in almost competition shape, my BMI was 14 and I was doing really well, or at least I thought I was doing well..
I herniated L4/L5 from squatting too heavily, along with damaging my esophagus sphincter. I went to my physician as I was struggling badly with heartburn, whereby even water was giving me heartburn and I used to suck on Rennies at the gym. After a barium swallow, manometry studies, and a scope they saw the damage and booked a Nissen fundoplication for me. After the op, I couldn't even get noodles down, and relied heavily on soup/ jelly and more prominently whiskey..
I lost 19kgs in just over a month as I couldn't eat anything solid for weeks on end, what a physically draining exercise this was, and it was depressing the hell out of me to see all those years of hard work I'd put in go down the drain😔, at my lowest I weighed in at 73KG, dropping from a 36 dress size to 30. The weight eventually found me again, but in the form of fat, I then had a BMI of 32. I've found that after 3 weeks of rigorous training, I've gone up by 3cm on my biceps and 4 cm on my legs, with my BMI running at around 29 now.
It's baby steps, but I'm doing my best to get back to where I once was, as I felt on top of the world when I was giving it my all, just nowadays I tend to ease on on the squats and use planking to build core. I hope my essay motivates at least one of you, then my job is done.
Good on you. The hardest part is starting again, but now that you have, you’ll see your gains come back. Muscle memory is a going to serve you well. It’s absolutely possible for you to recover all of your previous gains in the upcoming months.

What supplements are you using? You don’t really need to take them if your nutrition is on point. Creatine is probably the only one worth getting, but even that isn’t necessary.

As for your actual training, take it slowly. You do not have to train to failure, your body is so sensitive to volume right now that you’ll get great results staying a few reps shy of failure (2-3 reps in reserve will be plenty good). Choose compound exercises that have a good stimulus to fatigue ratio for you. Use machines or free weights, they are all correct. There’s absolutely no difference for hypertrophy.

Caveat: If you are training for a specific sport, then you may have to do movements keeping the principle of specificity in mind. If not, you’re golden with whatever.

Of course you do need to follow progressive overload, that is one of the main factors for you to see continual gains. Perhaps periodization as well, but that’s probably better to implement when your new “newbie” gains have stopped.

Eat at maintenance calories or even a slight deficit and you’ll be able to do a body recomp. You’ll get there sooner than you think. Good luck!
 
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That’s just categorically false. Machines are as good or even better than free weights in many exercises. They help build muscle just as much as the latter. Not only that, but they are safer and can help people learn how to use proper form.

I'm not disputing that they build muscle, probably more so considering their targeted and assistive nature. I'm also not saying they're not safe in and of themselves.

What I am saying is that when you use machines it's a lot easier to build a body that is not particularly utilitarian. The whole needs to work well together, when you use machines you isolate particular muscles but the muscles that would normally support those actions are not engaged. The result being that you might end up with a good physique, but it doesn't work well as a cohesive unit, which an activity like wrestling or some such would quickly reveal.

Squats are great but so are machine assisted ones. There’s no right or wrong answer here, they are all viable options.

A squat is a full body exercise, not a leg exercise. What makes it so good is the need for all your muscles to coordinate in support of the action. If you are using a machine to guide you, you are not engaging all those parts of the body needed to support you in that movement, you're just pushing up and down with your legs. Your body would not be able to support squatting that amount of weight normally, it's not functional strength.

You cannot tell me that a person shouldn’t do machine squats if they can’t do regular ones. What if they have an injury?

To me that's kind of the point, if you can't do a squat, learn to do a squat. Anyone can push up and down on a machine - their simplicity makes them popular. To my mind it's easier to develop injuries with machine based routines because you're working with weights a lot heavier than your body can actually support, developing muscles that aren't well coordinated with one another.

What if they have back pain or knee pain?

Like the joke about the doctor, if the action hurts, don't do the action. Stretching is another super important element that's often overlooked and also vital to building functional strength. If you build a supple, coordinated body, you're less likely to develop injury - which is why I suggested it for Snakepit.

I don’t do barbell squats anymore because they hurt my knees and lower back. Yet, a pendulum squat and hack-squat machine feels like butter on my joints. Haven’t done a traditional squat in forever yet my legs are stronger than they’ve ever been.

Muscles grow from mechanical tension applied to them, there’s no difference whether that comes from free weights or machines.

As I prefaced in my earlier post, this is my opinion on the matter. I don't dispute machines develop muscles, I would say it's probably a lot easier to get big using machines, if that's your goal, have at it. What I'm saying is that in my experience, if you want a strong, functional body that will last you a long time, you're better off not orienting your training around repetitive, guided motions on machines.
 
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I understand the argument you are making, but the evidence doesn’t show that. An example:



The takeaway, there’s no difference between machines and free weights for strength training.
 
I understand the argument you are making, but the evidence doesn’t show that. An example…

The takeaway, there’s no difference between machines and free weights for strength training.

Fair enough, there is place for both, but I'm not really advocating for one or the other.

What I'm trying to say is that I don't think it's good to focus your routine around weight machines - or free weights for that matter, because you do end up with much the same problem. I believe that should only be a small part of a person's routine. Pull-ups, animal crawls, box jumps, sprints, runs, push-ups, farmer walks, boxing - more variety and dynamic movements along with stretching. I think if a healthy, functioning body is your priority, you need to do more activities like these.

If you want to look like that guy in the video you posted, ignore me, because that is not what I consider a functional body - I don't think it's particularly healthy either.

Anecdotally, back in the day a top Danish body builder joined our Muay Thai gym for, I assume, cardio purposes. You could feel his grip strength when first clinching up, but as soon as you start to work, he just crumpled, didn't have the flexibility, didn't have the core .

Anyway, do as you guys feel is right for you. I just think that if you went this route and developed injuries, maybe a more holistic approach second time around is a better idea.
 
Dr. Mike has a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, so I’d argue that his body is a lot more functional than probably most people around.

The problem with your examples is that they are pretty specific movements (specificity principle), so how much transfer is there to real life? I can give you farmer carries but animal crawls? Why would I need to do an animal crawl? I haven’t done stuff like that in decades.

Same with box jumps? Why do I need to do it? Sprints? Why? Besides the heavy fatigue cost, what are the advantages for people in their 40s or 50s? What advantages are there over steady state cardio?

Now think about building strength with bench pressing (which I don’t do), rows, overhead presses, deadlifts etc. It has many more applications to real life than your examples. Doing it with a full range of motion with a pause at the stretch, you are building a body that can deal with the ravages of aging. And the stretch allows you to improve your flexibility as well. You know how flexible bodybuilders are? Those dudes do the splits on stage!

Calisthenics is fine, nothing wrong with it, but you can’t argue that weight training doesn’t get you the same benefits. It does. And the evidence points to it as well.
 
@DaddyWaddy, I've got nothing against weight training, it's part of my own routine. You do what you think works for you, I can only speak to my own experience and observations.
 
Good on you. The hardest part is starting again, but now that you have, you’ll see your gains come back. Muscle memory is a going to serve you well. It’s absolutely possible for you to recover all of your previous gains in the upcoming months.

What supplements are you using? You don’t really need to take them if your nutrition is on point. Creatine is probably the only one worth getting, but even that isn’t necessary.

As for your actual training, take it slowly. You do not have to train to failure, your body is so sensitive to volume right now that you’ll get great results staying a few reps shy of failure (2-3 reps in reserve will be plenty good). Choose compound exercises that have a good stimulus to fatigue ratio for you. Use machines or free weights, they are all correct. There’s absolutely no difference for hypertrophy.

Caveat: If you are training for a specific sport, then you may have to do movements keeping the principle of specificity in mind. If not, you’re golden with whatever.

Of course you do need to follow progressive overload, that is one of the main factors for you to see continual gains. Perhaps periodization as well, but that’s probably better to implement when your new “newbie” gains have stopped.

Eat at maintenance calories or even a slight deficit and you’ll be able to do a body recomp. You’ll get there sooner than you think. Good luck!
Thanks for the advice :)
I'm using the same stuff I used to use:
Alanine/ Citrulline malate/ creatine/ lean protein shake. I also follow the " body for life" program of high reps/ low weights progressing to an explosive set, which works beautifully!
Diet wise I follow keto, aside from my cheat day once a week🙂
 
Ag, at the end of the day whilst we don't all agree on the method of training we at least agree on the fact that fitness is a must. If we all trained the same we'd just be a bunch of sheep;)
I've felt a heavy depression weighing me down for years now, along with a dependence on alcohol and cigarettes - getting back to the gym has given me both a new purpose and motivation to enjoy life and all the crap it throws at me, I'm just grateful I'm still physically able to do so💪
 
Thanks for the advice :)
I'm using the same stuff I used to use:
Alanine/ Citrulline malate/ creatine/ lean protein shake. I also follow the " body for life" program of high reps/ low weights progressing to an explosive set, which works beautifully!
Diet wise I follow keto, aside from my cheat day once a week🙂
No worries, mate. I think you are well on your way, especially since you’re mentally ready for your training. Perhaps consider a deload after the program ends, though I’m not sure how much fatigue you will have accumulated over the duration of it. Actually, now that I think of it, how long is the program?
 
No worries, mate. I think you are well on your way, especially since you’re mentally ready for your training. Perhaps consider a deload after the program ends, though I’m not sure how much fatigue you will have accumulated over the duration of it. Actually, now that I think of it, how long is the program?
12 weeks, I've been slacking off lately, probably due to my research paper that is looming, along with a bloody module in between...
 
Keep at it, consistency is key here. Even if it’s just a 20 minute walk, try to keep active.
 
I see it has 52 "goals"?

What are some of them?

It’s weeks, you needed to hit a certain amount of training in a week, once you do it rolls on to the next week. So by the criteria of the challenge I’ve completed a year of training.
 
It’s weeks, you needed to hit a certain amount of training in a week, once you do it rolls on to the next week. So by the criteria of the challenge I’ve completed a year of training.

DOH 😃

Should have guessed that 52 is weeks
 
Down 1.6kgs, another 3.4 to go (or thereabouts). Admittedly, training is starting to get harder now, so may have to deload sooner than I’d like. Fatigue isn’t quite there yet, but it’s starting to show some effects.
 
Did a leg session yesterday, and have a bit of soreness in the quads. Used the lying leg curl machine but it’s really not a good one. Absolutely no stretch at the eccentric portion of the movement. Have zero pain in the hamstrings or any other indication that I actually trained them! Guess I’m going to have to go back to stiff-legged deadlifts.
 
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