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11/19/13 12:58 P

You can get a good workout for your stabilizer muscles if you concentrate on your form while you're doing the steps in between the machines. Make sure you're engaging your core, and don't use the bar attached to the steps for balance unless you absolutely need to. You can also work the steps in a way that will engage your abs (kicks or pulling your knee up to your chest when you step up will help).

I think it's certainly best to worry about good form! You don't want to injure yourself. :) You could always see if they can design a program around using free weights and you can start adding that into your rotation. I've always wanted to do the design your own program thing but have so far been too nervous to ask!

Good luck. :)

JAMIE68117 SparkPoints: (4,321)
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11/19/13 12:50 P

I really appreciate all your responses. I think I need to just stick with my circuit routine for a while and see how it works out for me. :)

JAMIE68117 SparkPoints: (4,321)
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11/19/13 12:49 P

Thank you for your response! I think I will work on the machines for a while, and hopefully try to save up for some personal training in 2014. :)

JAMIE68117 SparkPoints: (4,321)
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11/19/13 12:47 P

That's really good advice! I do need to learn what works for me personally, and not everyone else. Now that I have a job with more steady hours I may try to save up for a personal trainer next year. :)


JAMIE68117 SparkPoints: (4,321)
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11/19/13 12:45 P

Thanks for your input! I will have to look into that book. :) Planet Fitness has "unlimited fitness training" but I'm not sure how good it is. It's done in a small group. I can't do Body Pump at PF, but I can do it at the YMCA. I'm a little afraid of it though!

SP_COACH_DENISE Posts: 42,292
11/19/13 11:09 A

Using weight machines is ok and will still give you a good strength workout. The nice thing about using the machines like that is that it does help keep you with better form so you are less likely to injure yourself. So that is a definite plus for beginners to make sure they are staying safe and following the correct form.

Free weights are more advanced, but as you know, there is more room for error and injury. If you want to use those and make sure you are following the proper form for various exercises, then it would be a good idea to work with a personal trainer at least once or twice so they can show you proper use and form. However, we do also have exercise demos here on the site that show you and explain how to properly perform various exercises:

Coach Denise

JCWIAKALA Posts: 347
11/18/13 11:05 A

You will always find someone who says their way is better. Some truthfully are better, some are just opinion.

When making decisions about your exercise, don't be quick to jump on bandwagons and let other people tell you what to do because we're all different. Some questions to ask yourself: What is your current level now? (Beginner, intermediate, or expert) What are your fitness goals? (Weight loss, toning, body building) What are your limitations? (Bad back, lack of education, morbid obesity) Since all of us have different circumstances, we should all have varying exercise routines.

Given what you've told us, there's absolutely nothing wrong with using the machines at Planet Fitness. It's an excellent place to start. And for some people, that's all they need and want for exercise. If you want to grow, improve, and see dramatic results, you may want to change up your routine. But you do that in time. You don't have to start right out the gate.

For when you do decide to move onto body weight exercises and free weights, I suggest educating yourself, maybe saving up for a personal trainer session, and add a few different exercises into your routine at a time. I get ideas from watching other people at the gym. You may even strike up a conversation with them at some point. Avoid the all or nothing outlook. You can mix and match based on your circumstances, abilities, and goals.

GYPSYGOTH SparkPoints: (94,944)
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11/17/13 6:22 P

Yes! I am reading this book "Which comes first, cardio or weights" which is all about training.

It's FINE to start with the machines (I am doing the same; just started working in a gym with a similar circuit; I alternate leg and arm days and do two or three sets). You can theoretically use them to learn to maintain proper form first.

The gym SHOULD offer you a free fitness assessment if you haven't had it already, where hopefully a trainer should direct you in how to start doing free weights properly. It is true that the machines will only give you bigger, not "truly" stronger muscles. And you DO need to do some kind of balancing exercise-- yoga, just standing on one leg with your eyes closed for as long as you can now and then, etc.-- or the stabilizer muscles you describe will not be developed enough. Free weights are better in the long run.

Does PF offer Body Pump classes? That's my next step. It is free weights as a group, but you choose your own weight and the instructor ought to correct your form until you've got it.


Edited by: GYPSYGOTH at: 11/17/2013 (18:23)
JAMIE68117 SparkPoints: (4,321)
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11/17/13 4:35 P

I like doing the 30 minute circuit at Planet Fitness because it's a full-body workout, and keeps my heart rate up as well. According to my heart rate monitor I burn 300 calories when I do the circuit.

My only worry is that people seem to be saying it's much better to use your own body weight for workouts, and do free weights. The problem is- I don't have a personal trainer to correct me on my form. I also have back problems so I really can't risk having bad form and making things worse.

I also hear some people say that if you do the machines you won't work your "stabilizer" muscles as much, and so your strength won't transfer over as much to "real world" activities? Can machine workouts also make you look "uneven", as far as your muscle tone?

I also have a weight training program I have followed in the past that's not the circuit, but it also involves some machines (along with some free weights).

Do you think it's bad to use machines for weight training? Would it help to throw some pilates classes a couple days a week to strengthen some of those "stabilizer" muscles?

I'm thinking about doing the "design your own program" class at Planet Fitness, but I'm not sure if a lot of those trainers like to rely on the machines a lot since that's a lot of what Planet Fitness has?

I'd like to figure out a program that's simple enough for me to follow and stick with. Also, I want it to be fairy efficient time-wise.

Any ideas?!

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