When I first began training in my early teens, I trained quite wrong, unfortunately.
I used both machines and free weights, but I didn't go heavy on either. I did TONS of volume and it halted my strength gains.
I was brain washed 🙁
I read all the wrong information and the far and few between guys who actually WERE strong in the gym, you simply assumed that bodybuilding and powerlifting were 2 different worlds.
I was told to feel & squeeze the muscle, the weight doesn't matter.
As I got into my later years of high school, here and there I'd be lucky enough to work in with an older group of lifters and they would encourage me to go heavier. Training with my friends was great, but, because I was the one who was always reading and studying the bodybuilding magazines, they relied on me to organize our training sessions.
It wasn't until late in my senior year of high school, when I was done wrestling, that I began to scratch the surface of understanding that strength is key. I began reading more about The Golden Era Bodybuilders compared to the bodybuilders of the current times.
The Golden Era bodybuilders were strong. No 2 ways about it. Whether they used machines or free weights, they trained heavy. Casey Viator blended both free weights and Nautilus machines and he was squatting 500 + lbs for reps.
My mistakes and confusion reminds me of how crucial the younger generation is in need of mentors.
If I had found Diamond Gym earlier or lived closer to Diamond gym in my early teens, that would have certainly changed things for me. In Diamond Gym you would see guys performing Hammer Strength Shoulder Presses with 3 or 4 plates on each side. Leg Presses with plates stacked to the end and training partners sitting on top of the machine.
Those bodybuilders trained heavy & hard as their system was very much molded after The Golden Era greats.
Above, Johnny Morant curling at the annual Diamond Gym Bodybuilding Show Curl Contest.
Today, I use machines to my advantage.
I ordered The Matt Wenning Belt Squat and just picked up The Sorinex Hurricane.
NOTE: Matt Wenning and I will be crushing a seminar together. Register HERE before early bird price is over.
Here's how you can use machines to your advantage to gain BOTH size and strength:
1) Do not go all in on machines, blend machines with free weights, calisthenics, odd objects.
Use machines to work weak areas or perhaps work around injuries. Be strategic with choosing machines.
2) Vary the reps on machines.
Go heavy for sets of 5 and also do high reps in the 20 rep ranges. Mix it up.
I remember when I was going through my Masters Degree and training at Diamond Gym only twice a week. I would sometimes START my upper body workout with heavy cable cross overs to shock my body. Then heavy machine incline presses. THEN, I would go to my benching.
It was a shock to the system and got my stronger!
3) Find Machines that help you work around tweaks or slight injuries.
Some machines have different angles or different hand placements and feel REALLY good on the body. You'll have to visit different gyms to find those machines. I have found the older style independent gyms have the older machines that are no longer in production.
These are rare pieces that are amazing!
4) Implement machine circuits to get lots of blood flow and volume in before you hit heavy free weights.
This can preserve the body longer. Matt Wenning does this often with his warm ups.
I trained at his Ludus Magnus Gym for upper body and we did 4 rounds of Machine Pulldowns, Rope Triceps Exensions and Incline DB Presses.
Last set of belt squats before the big movement!! Training in my belt squat enhances form!!! By sitting back and pushing out dozens of times before the barbell, my body fine tunes its position and power!! Watch my earlier max effort squat posted yesterday and see the difference (you will see none)!!! Order at www.wenningstrength.com #squat #technique #lifting #tips #wenning #wenningstrength #quads #bodybuilding #powerlifting #powerbuilding #strength #beltsquat #hipsquat #glutes
For example, 3 x 20 reps of below:
- Leg Curls
- Belt Squat / Leg Press (Careful NOT to round your back in bottom of leg press)
- Leg Extensions
5) Find those rare, old school Bodybuilding Machines.
At my buddy's gym recently he showed me a 1 off piece of equipment that was likely built in the guys garage.
It was a standing lat pulldown.
It felt AMAZING.
I showed it to Roger's Athletics (Pendulum) and they agreed......
It was likely an old school bodybuilder who was a genius, and built it in his garage.
NOTE: Have you searched for the closest "old school bodybuilding gym" in your area?
If there is one, train there once a week. Make the trip.
Learn from the bodybuilders who are in their 40s, 50s and older (Much Older 🙂
These guys always have a wealth of knowledge and always have plenty of stories to share.
There ya have it.
Machines don't mean you're a pretty boy bodybuilder unless you make my mistakes circa 1989 - 1993 🙁
Strong is STRONG!
Here's a gym tour of my buddy's gym, you'll see the blend of free weights, machines, bodybuilding equipment and more. Johnny and I used to train and compete against one another in the early 90s in bodybuilding.
It's GREAT to see him crushing it and the 2 of us still big time passionate!
*** If you're fired up and Ready to Step UP your training and you also want inspiration, accountability
and 24/7 access to me, then join the Gladiator STRONG Team HERE.
- Reduce joint aches & pains
- Build Lean, Functional Muscle
- Accountability Group + Inspiration
You'll feel like you're training partners are with you
from the group.
Introduce yourself when you get to the forum HERE.