Women must be careful not to over indulge in training on weight machines, for two main reasons: to prevent joint injury and to maximize exercise efficiency. Females are generally much more flexible but not as strong as their male counterpart. Plus women experience increased joint laxity when premenstrual, which added together leads to a high susceptibility to joint injury.
It is well documented that females have higher incidence of injury than men in almost every sport in which both sexes participate. It is important to consider this when choosing resistance exercises. Machine exercises require almost no activation of stabilizer muscles, compared to free weight exercises, which require maximal activation of stabilizers. To strengthen stabilizers and help prevent joint injury, females should primarily perform multi-joint free weight exercises e.g. lunges, squats, dead lifts, bent over rows, lat pull downs, squat push presses, upright rows, bent over dumbbell fly’s, dumbbell bench press and dumbbell military press. Exercises using body weight resistance will also prove to be excellent, e.g. push-ups, chin-ups, and dips, jumping and hopping drills and a variety of abdominal exercises.
The vast majority of female exercisers want to lose weight. Women have been quick to migrate to machines, often hoping to see the aesthetic benefits. Bodybuilding, machine manufacturers, and lack of education in the exercise profession have fuelled this machine craving. However machines frequently focus on isolated joint movements and activate only select muscles. This results in minimal caloric expenditure and perpetuates imbalance between prime mover and stabilizer muscles. Multi-joint free weight exercises will maintain balance in the working musculature and burn far more calories, helping women stay lean and injury free!