Get In The Real World!

Isn’t it funny how much real work is harder than on typical gym machines?  I went for a set on the shoulder press machine the other day for a change and thought it felt so much easier than a dumbell overhead press!

Weight-for-weight = easier than 2 dumbells


I have been doing some painting and decorating recently and it was clear how much real-world strength comes from weight liftng and strongman training – as opposed to pretty shinythings that look all pretty but have half as much use.

Looks can be deceiving!!!

Ripping wood from walls and unscrewing screws that had been in 15+years meant my upper arms and forearms were rock solid – it was tough work…………but would have been tougher if I hadnt trained my chin ups and farmers walks! 

It’s funny how simple things like lifting settees, ripping wood from walls and general handyman stuff can highlight weaknesses.  It’s a shame that so many stick to the machines in the belief (and myth) that they are safer than free weights. 

Why are free weights safer? 

They are safer because you can train your muscles in 3 dimensions, and secondly in a controlled environment.  There are other reasons – but for these alone you should ditch the machines more often than not. You will be better prepared by doing deadlifts for 6 months than to go from nothing to licking up something heavy when you help a mate move their stuff!!!


This is 10 times reinforced when training for sports.  I highlighted in this post, how I have never been injured doing weight training   (actually, apart from when doing a high-rep bodypump class in an underprepared gym. … I ditched that routine soon after).   I am actually still recovering from a foot injury sustained during a 5 a side match, and unfortunately in sport…….these things happen.

If you want to gain real-world strength and be strong and safe – lift free weights and progressively make it heavier. I’ll just add that cable exercises, while not ‘free weights’ are good too………they do allow more natural movement than fixed machines 🙂

So my challenge to you is this:  If you use a machine a lot in your current program – try out the free weight equivalent and see the difference. 

Here are some examples:

Shoulder press machine ———-> Barbell or Dumbell Shoulder Press

Chess Press machine ———-> Press up / Dumbell Bench Press

Fixed Vertical pull Machine ———-> Recline row / Dumbell Row

Leg Extension ———-> Squat   (Click here to read more about the sad fact about leg training going AWOL in todays world)

You get the idea!  Now do it!

Peace out!


PS   The Bootcampers took it outside last night for the first evening class of 2011, and it was very intense in parts. If you have ever been up early enough on a Saturday morning to witness my Bootcamps –  you will see movements like sled pulls, press ups and chin ups.  You don’t get more real world than that!

(Check out the mens video and the dates for April, contact me for a trial)






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