Since the invention of the first variable resistance machine in the late 1800’s, machines have become a major part of resistance training programs throughout the world.
Why have they become so popular? For one, they offer many users a larger degree of safety as compared to using other forms of resistance training. Users do not have to worry about being trapped by the weight or having a weight fall upon them. So safety is a big plus but do not be lulled into a false sense of security. Any piece of resistance equipment can cause injury if used improperly with poor technique and too much resistance.
Secondly, machine users often feel using such equipment allows them more ease of movement. They can change resistance quickly and efficiently and do not for the most part have to worry about coordinating and stabilizing their body, which can be a plus in some instances.
Lastly, variable resistance equipment through it’s design can provide users with the opportunity to train some body movements which would be nearly impossible to do by other means, i.e. hip abduction and hip adduction.
What should we keep in mind if we want to utilize variable resistance equipment?
1) Learn how to adjust the piece for you. Many pieces of equipment can be adjusted to fit your limb and torso length.
2) Learn the mechanics of the exercise. How to apply force effectively, how you need to stabilize, and know what your posture should be while performing the exercise.
3) Learn at what speed of movement you need to be at to receive the most benefit. Most if not all weight stack style need to be performed at a slow consistent speed to maintain a consistent strength curve. Not only can going too fast increase your chances of injury, it can also decrease the overall benefit of the exercise performed. Exercise speed should be somewhere from 2 seconds or more on the contractive phase (weight moving off the stack) to 4 or more seconds on the eccentric phase (weight moving back to the stack). Keiser type variable resistance equipment is one of the only styles in which you can perform the exercise at any speed and still retain a consistent strength curve.
4) Make sure to contact a Fitness Professional if you have questions. Ask for assistance. It will increase your success and decrease your risk of getting injured.
If used properly variable resistance training equipment can enhance any routine and provide you with many different training options. Train smart and be safe.