5 gym machines to skip and what to do instead

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Not sure how to use all those fancy weight machines in the gym? No problem! Try these effective exercise swaps instead, says Third Space master trainer Kate Maxey…

1. Shoulder Press

The shoulder press machine can be great to focus purely on this area of your body and you get a nice sit down at the same time! But you need to ensure that you can alter the seat height and often the handles are still in a slightly awkward position. Plus, usually there are just one of these machines so you will find yourself waiting around for the next opportunity to jump on.

Using dumbbells can be a much easier option as not only do you work your shoulders but you have to work your core hard to help stabilise the two weights. Combine squats and overhead dumbbell press to create a great superset and fatigue more than just one muscle group.

2. Ab Crunch machine

The classic – if I do 100 reps of these I will get abs. This machine is not going to suddenly make you walk out of the gym with abs (sorry, I wish it was the case too!). The best way of becoming leaner is to train more functionally (and watch that diet as abs will only appear once you have a lower body fat percentage.) By doing more functional training with kettlebells and dumbbells, you will work more than just one muscle group, therefore increasing the calorie/fat burn and in turn allowing those abs to come through.

Top tip: you do not need to do isolated ab training – using kettlebells and dumbbells for squats, presses, deadlifts or rows will all work your core!

3. Pec Deck/Chest Press

Having multiple chest machines in the gym is enough to confuse anyone, so why not try the humble press up instead. If you are wanting to get some serious size on your chest, you may need to be doing more than just bodyweight but being able to perform a bodyweight press up efficiently will give you so much more then pecs.

I recommend switching between the tricep press up and the more traditional (tricep focuses on working the back of the arms, shoulders and chest, whilst the traditional keeps it more chest focused). You will feel every single muscle in your body working as you lower down to the ground and drive back up. When done correctly, your core should be on fire.

4. Leg press

A leg press is great if you want to be able to load maximal weight, however, how about we grab a kettlebell or dumbbells and work on our squats. You’ll also get more of an upper body workout and hone in on that core.

5. Lat Pull Down

This can be a great exercise for your back although it’s a hard area to engage properly and is one of the exercises that you may see being done incorrectly the most. The lat pull down was created to work your lats (that muscle down the side of your body underneath your armpit that wraps around your back to help give you that tiny waist look – big trick that many women do!) but lots of factors can make this machine do the opposite of what it should. For example, there are multiple grips that work different muscles, the angle of your back can make a difference and you need to know what weight to use.

To still work your lats and more of your back, introduce the renegade row (plank with dumbbell row). All you need is two heavy dumbbells and a small space in the gym. Performing the renegade row will again work your whole body with an emphasis on your back and core.

Kate’s dumbbell superset workout:

Superset 1

Squats x 12reps/4 sets

Shoulder press x 12reps/4 sets

Superset 2

Press up x 10 reps/ 4 sets

Renegade rows x 10 reps/4sets

Third Space London has opened its sixth club in Islington. For more information visit thirdspace.london

By Sam

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