As an experienced Ascot personal trainer I see lots of athletes and members of the general public train in the gym with the fixed weight machines.  Exercising in this way will add size but perhaps not stability.  If you want to be a faster, agile, stable athlete then fixed machines and seated protocols aren’t for you.   The vast majority of athletes around the world share in common the fact that when they are competing they do so on their feet.  This means that it is best to train your body in the gym either standing or in positions which target your body using stability. Now I know that there are some body parts that you can’t train standing up. For example bench press, this is one of the very few.

In my role as an experienced Ascot personal trainer I offer five movement alternatives to do using free weights instead of fixed weights or seated free weight. This may help you decide what’s best for you in the weights room for you maximum athletic gain.

1.  Standing Barbell or Dumbbell Shoulder Press instead of Fixed Shoulder Press

In the standing shoulder press, you will be able to see that the whole body is being used.

·       The stability of the shoulder and scapular to push the weight above head.

·       Your whole core (rotator cuff through to the spine and down to the hips) has to be stable, if not the body will collapse under the weight.

·       The legs are grounding you to the floor, creating a platform for all the force to be transferred from.


2.  Barbell Back Squat or Front Squat instead of Fixed Leg Press

Both of these exercises are amongst the most athletic movements to add strength and stability to your legs.  With a back squat:

·       The weight is distributed through your back using your posterior extensors to maintain good posture throughout the movement.

·       The Gluteals and the quadriceps are the main muscles used performing this movement.  These are the main muscles used in jumping.

·       Whole body stability is emphasised under heavy loads as well as strength versus a leg press which simply develops strength.  We know that stability is crucial when performing any sport.

·       Use this movement to increase your vertical leap.


3.  Barbell Bench Press instead of Fixed Chest Press

This is one of the exercises that have to be done lying because of the need to use gravity to hit the pectoral muscles.  However this doesn’t make it a bad exercise to add to your training regime.

·       This movement will work the stability in your shoulder girdle and the strength in your chest, shoulders and triceps because you need to hold the shoulder / arm stable in order to perform the movement.

·       Now if your sport involves pushing with your upper body like passing a ball, pushing in rugby or American football then this is a movement your Experienced Ascot Personal Trainer must add into your training schedule.


Barbell Bent Forward Row instead of Seated Fixed Machine Row

This is usually an exercise that I see performed with poor form in every gym I visit.   People using this movement to strengthen their upper back but not incorporating there posterior extensors will end up with injury. You have to make sure your back is straight.

·       Using the barbell movement will recruit your erector spinae and lower posterior chain muscles holding them in a isometric hold to keep your body upright.

·       This is a brilliant movement to keep your upper body in balance making sure you lift the same weight rowing as you do bench pressing.

·       The rowing motion is working mainly upper back but is also working other posterior chain muscles; this meaning is will improve your BB deadlift.


5.  Swiss Ball Leg Curl instead of Fixed Leg Curl

Swiss ball leg curl is done lying down.  However it uses more than one muscle, because your feet are suspended on the ball and your hips are off the floor. The movement works your lower back, glutes, hamstring (main target) and your gastrocnemius.

·       This movement works a whole lot more muscles than just used on the fixed hamstring curl.

·       Your body will also be targeting its core muscles so that you don’t fall of the ball.

·       This is a great hamstring strengthening exercise.   After your main leg movement to try and isolate but your still using your stabilisers.

These are exercises that I have used because I don’t workout at a commercial gym.  I had to use movements that you wouldn’t be taught in a gym.   Some instructors find it easier by putting you on a fixed machine.   Teaching you proper form takes longer to master but gets you better results.

So next time you’re at a gym perhaps steer away from the machines.  Instead make your body the machine and use it the way it’s supposed to be used .

People say that being a personal trainer is easy.   All you have to do is get the qualification and of you go.  This isn’t the case being an experienced Ascot personal trainer in means that you have to be able to be knowledgeable beyond a piece of paper. A number of hours are spent reading books like Becoming and Supple Leopard to understand how all of the different facets of fitness fit together uniquely to suit each individual fitness client.

This blog post was written by Lead Personal Trainer David Thomas.  David is a mobile fitness coach who looks after our clients in Ascot and the surrounding areas.  If you would like to find out how David can help you achieve your health and fitness goals then please feel free to contact us through our contact form.

This article was written by personal fitness trainer Nathan Kelly – find on Google+