Machines are used in the gym every single day by millions of people, these days there is a machine for every muscle group! This both a good and a bad thing, but should you really be using them?
All machines are usually either for a compound movement for example a leg press r chat press or, an isometric movement including, leg extension or a pec fly. They have specific aims and muscle groups to hit and allow it to be done with a few changes in seat adjustment. Machines can be convenient as they can be simple to use with set up and weight selection as well as targeting as mentioned most muscle groups!
So when do they become an issue? Machines are fixed, and although there are many adjustments to change, some machines put your body in awful positions which aren't natural. Machines can also be used as a safety tool without having to learn proper technique or body positioning which can make it hard for you your body to progress with the strength and execution of other movements not using machines. For example, you can use a leg press for legs, but you will get so much more muscles engaging and working doing a squat! You have you focus on the whole body working in unison to perform the move, on the other hand yo can just sit in a machine and do the movement.
To me personally, I think occupation plays a big role in determining how often you should be using machines in your gym workout and here's why.
So why does this matter? In my opinion, keep core muscles engaged and posture as natural and anatomical as a possible is optimal for any fitness goal. The more you sit, the worse these factors usually get, therefore get off your ass when you're in the gym! Wake up those muscles groups which have been lazy and not used all day! Instead on a seated row do it on a TRX, same muscle groups, but reversing what has been switched off all day! Doing this small switch van help so much with keeping your mid section strong, tight and help performance too.
Previous Gym / Fitness Experiences
If you are a beginner and find it difficult to do certain exercises and need to start off with machines to get going, that's fine! If you have an injury and are using machines to ease pressure or pain, that's also fine! The importance is progression, some machines will be used every workout which I do myself to isolate particular areas well, however I make sure my workouts are mixed with both machines, free weights and bodyweight movements to let my body be worked from all angles and possibilities.
It all comes down to personal preference, however, if you know you use machines to make working a muscle group easier, that's not a good reason to continue using machines to aches be your goals. If you know you sit down a lot, research alternative ways to do things to try and keep your whole body working well in proportion and help aid postural and long term internal health too.
All articles are written by Luke Teuma, Founder of Lean With Luke.