Somewhere in the evolution of the fitness business, people decided to fill their big-box gyms with every machine you can think of rather than the equipment you really need. Unfortunately, some of those machines, and the movements they encourage, don't help your overall fitness and can even lead to injury. Here are the ones to avoid.
Seated Ab Twist Machine
Sitting upright and rotating your trunk against a resistance is a great way to destroy the proper mechanics of your spinal segments. If too much weight is used, the lumbar segments begin to do more rotation than they should compared to the thoracic region, and the surrounding muscles can be affected as a byproduct. Instead of hopping on the twist machine, focus on planks and movements that resist rotation, rather than create it, as a go-to.
Doing a squat with one leg behind the other and positioned across the body is a good way to make the glute work on the leading leg, but it’s also a great way to take your joints out of alignment. As a rule, always aim for the knee, hip, and shoulder to be in a straight line when performing exercises. Bearing a load on inconsistent alignment can lead to undue joint stress and chronic pain or injury down the road. Based on most people’s starting point, this also puts stress on areas that aren’t as flexible as they should be, like the IT band and hip capsule. To avoid knocking your joints out of whack, try rear-leg elevated split squats instead.
Presses and Pull-downs Behind the Neck
It’s always a risk to bear a load behind the neck, mainly because the shoulder capsule on most people just isn’t mobile or flexible enough to make this movement safe. With that said, doing behind-the-neck pull-downs, pull-ups, or shoulder presses might hit your target muscle groups, but they put your rotator cuff through hell. Stick to movements in front of the chest while you build mobility through basic form drills instead.
Abductor and Adductor Machines
The seated hip abduction and adduction machines were a grand slam for the ladies, and their popularization makes them appear to be worthwhile machines to use. But really, the machines attempt to work a muscle group that functions best when you're standing or walking around, not sitting. So working your standing muscles from a seated position is almost a total waste of time. Instead, using a cable pulley and standing will provide more bang for your buck as you simulate the same pattern. It also creates better movement so you can find an angle that actually works for your joints and muscles.