What do resistance training machines, shoulder press racks, lat pulldowns, and cable rows usually all have in common?
They all require you to sit. They are all also found in the commercial gym I used to be a member at (and I’ll assume many more). This gym also had 1 squat rack which was usually reserved for curls.
This is a serious problem that many people are ignoring.
A general day for the average person may look something like this:
Wake up, eat breakfast, drive to work, work, lunch, drive home, eat, and watch tv/ use computer. The only task that did not involve sitting was waking up!
Chronic sitting leads to bad posture, high stress in the back, and a lack of energy expenditure.
Bad posture is usually a good predictor for back problems and poor quality of life. There is really no good way to sit down and have good alignment. The best positioning for the back is one that is always changing. Try to break up periods of prolonged sitting by stretching, walking around, and getting out of the seated posture. In a perfect world, jobs would allow for this.
Anyone that has ever had a tight, stiff, sore, or injured back would benefit from less sitting. This is especially true for a training program. There are numerous exercises that can be performed without sitting down and few that absolutely have to be.
Standing, kneeling, half kneeling, single leg, split squat, and full squats are all positions in which some pulls and pushes can be performed. All of these postures challenge core stability and activate more muscles to do the same task.
Compression is also reduced in the back when sitting is removed.
Shoulder presses should not be performed seated yet I have seen plate loaded machines, benches, and racks all designed to perform the exercise. These take up a lot of space and most people would benefit from using their core to stay stable instead of a piece of equipment. Try an alternating or single arm standing shoulder press and see how strong your core really is.
For all of the weight loss people out there it makes more sense to not sit during a training program. Let’s say you have one hour to get moving each day. You should probably actually get moving.
Most people sit at work, home, and while traveling in between for far too long. So when it is time to go to the gym, why would you spend more time sitting? Get up and get going to really see some results.
Performing a circuit of machines is not going to be all that hard and you will not burn a lot of calories. Performing total body workouts should incorporate multiple body parts working in unison. Isolation exercises (most machines) usually work small muscles and does not use a lot of energy.
A program with seated shoulder press, cable rows, lat pulldowns, and incline bench may be balanced but every exercise is seated. People sit to take rests from activity, not to perform activity.
Stand up when you exercise. It will benefit your back, use more energy, and increase your performance.