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If you're looking to isolate muscle groups, or do specific exercises, then specialist strength machines (aka selectorised) come into their own. Ranging from dedicated machines for your glutes, for seated curls, standing or seated calf raises through to through to multi press machines and 'combo' exercise machines. If you're into specific sports or fitness, where you want to target specific muscle groups, or have a large enough area to take 2 or 3 key machines, then these are a great alternative to lots of free weights.
Selectorised gym equipment is exercise equipment where you adjust the level of resistance by moving a pin or lever. Each machine will also have various adjustments such as seat weight or handles. They are generally designed for one specific motion. Once everything has been adjusted to suit you, you simply pull or push the handles to lift the weight stack.
Selectorised equipment provides strength training and cardiovascular exercises with an increased load capacity over cable systems. The machines create fixed path movements rather than user defined movements which you get with free weights or cables. They allow for a variety of muscle group work including chest presses, shoulder presses, various leg and lower body workouts and primary muscle group exercises.
Their main benefit is that they are great for isolating one muscle group. They are also really good for beginners or those new to weight training. If you run out of strength during an exercise you can literally let go and know that the weight won’t fall on you.
Another good thing for beginners is that these machines hold your body in the correct position, unlike free weights. They are also fairly quick to set up and get started, you literally adjust the seat and weight you require and off you go.
The main disadvantages are that most machines don’t fit everyone! You may struggle to find a machine that’s right for you if you are shorter than 5 feet or taller than 6 ft 2”. They can also become a little boring as you can’t alternate the exercise.
Some trainers also think that whilst isolating a muscle group can be good it’s also not how our muscles work in our body. Muscles tend to work in groups, so some trainers believe this is ideally how you should work your muscles out.
They are also huge bits of equipment so unlike free weights you can’t take them with you!
You will find many different styles and brands on the market. You will also find a vast range of price points. Our advice is always to think hard about what you want to achieve before you buy and also what space you have available. Also, don’t get sucked in to thinking that cheap means a bargain, it can mean just that - it’s cheap and won’t last!