07 Machines vs. Free Weights vs. Body Weight

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In Episode 7 of the Inform Fitness Podcast, Adam Zickerman, Mike Rogers, Sheila Melody and Tim
Edwards discusses the pros and cons of high-intensity strength training with free weights versus
machine weights versus your own body weight. You will learn more about the type of
equipment you can expect to use with your very own personal trainer at Inform Fitness.

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Intro:               You’re listening to the InForm Fitness podcast, 20 minutes with New York Times, best-selling author, Adam Zickerman and friends. Brought to you by InForm Fitness, life changing personal training with several locations across the US. Reboot your metabolism and experience the revolutionary Power of 10, the high intensity, slow motion, strength training system that’s so effective, you’d get a week’s worth of exercise in just one 20-minute session, which by no coincidence is about the length of this podcast. So, get ready InForm Nation, your 20 minutes of high intensity strength training information begins in 3, 2, 1.

Tim:                InForm Nation, thanks for being with us once again. I’m Tim Edwards with the Inbound Podcasting Network. We have Sheila. We have Mike. And we have Adam, the founder of InForm Fitness and New York Times best-selling author of Power of 10: The Once-a-Week Slow Motion Fitness Revolution. That’s what this show is all about, supercharging your metabolism, increasing your cardiovascular endurance and getting you leaner and stronger to enjoy your health and your life to the fullest.

In today’s episode we’ll discuss working out with free weights versus machine weights versus your own body weight and the equipment you can expect to see when becoming a member of InForm Nation. Mike, let’s start with you. Give us a quick rundown on the type of equipment InForm Fitness uses to support the Power of 10.

Mike:              In regards to the machines versus the free weight versus body weight, you know, InForm Fitness, here in New York, we have the Rolls Royce set up here as Adam said many times before and all of the locations in California, Virginia, etcetera. Our machines, they’re outstanding. They’re made by Nautilus. They’re made by MedX and they’re all retrofitted for our style of weight training to accommodate for the strength curves of the body.

Sheila:             I never knew what a strength curve until I got certified and went through all this, you know, information. Basically, it’s like when you start out a movement, like what Mike just said, you know, you go through this movement in the muscle group that your isolating. At the start of it you’re normally a little weaker and then there’s a point in that movement that you’re the strongest and then there becomes another point where it’s weaker. And what we want to do is stimulate that strongest part of the movement. So, if you’re in the middle of this, you know, compound row and in the middle of it where you’re strongest you can do 150 pounds but at the back you can’t or at the very beginning it — the equipment allows for the resistance to fall off where your strength curve is the weaker part and then you get that — the best stimulus in the middle of it. If that [crosstalk 02:59].

Tim:                And this cannot be accomplished, I’m sure, with free weights or regular machines that you would see at a conventional gym.

Adam:             There are tricks. You can simulate cams on free weights if you know how to use them properly. Like a lateral raise, you wouldn’t be standing straight up. You lean to the side while you did a lateral raise, you actually in effect create a cam that’s proper and congruent. So, if you know what you’re doing, if you understand the limitations of free weights and how to work around them, you can have a very intense and safe workout.

One thing that I think we overemphasize that people give more importance in, is actually needed is this thing, this concept called full range of motion. That we need to go through a full range of motion and some people in the older generation might remember this but there used to be, you know, a protocol called statics or isometric training and that’s where you don’t move at all. They don’t go through any range of motion at all. You just fatigue the muscle just by pushing and using the muscle in a stationary position but pushing as hard as you can until it exhausts and you got good results from doing statics or isometrics.

The range of motion for a lot of situations in trying to maximize that range of motion can end up being a very dangerous situation. When you’re at the extremes of the range of motion, those are the most vulnerable parts of the muscle, the most stretched position. That’s where things tear and go a little and get really dangerous. I like to stay right in that midrange and if unless you have specialized equipment, you should stay in that midrange and avoid the extremes. Only with retrofitted equipment where the machine makes it actually lighter where we’re right in our most vulnerable and weakest positions. So, the weight is not being taken over by the connective tissue because the muscle can’t handle it all right in that position.

So, that’s why we retrofit our machines and we do get a little bit more range of motion using machines like that. But again, I’m — I don’t really care about maximum range of motion. It doesn’t matter. You can strengthen a muscle group or single muscle by just working it really deeply in a static position. In its strongest position. In the middle position.

Mike:              I think, you know, Adam I think one of the best examples of that is the leg extension because of all the controversy and all studies and all of the, you know, it’s — over the last — as long as I’ve been a trainer there’s been a lot of news articles and studies that said the leg extension is absolutely the worst machine and one of the most dangerous machines in the gym and the thing is — well, the question is, how are you doing the study? How are they doing the exercise? How is the leg extension set up?

And, you know, for example, our — you know, Adam can describe probably the best exactly the alignment of the seat and how it drops off at the top and you know to — I mean where if he doesn’t do that, if you are going through a fuller range of motion, you are putting your knee in a lot of jeopardy at a regular gym versus at — our leg extension makes that accommodation if you’re going to a fuller range of motion but as Adam just sort of stated, it’s and often in many cases, it’s not necessary to do so.

Adam:             A leg extension is a rotary movement. The rotary movements are more challenging for free weights and the leg extension does have risks associated with it if you don’t — so our leg extension machine has a lot of retrofits done to it to make it a safe machine and exercise. Without getting into all the details, if somebody was to say to me, I want to do this exercise on my own and I belong to a gym, what should I do? I would not have them do the leg extension machine because I don’t know what kind of machine they have and it’s harder to use that correctly. I would stick him on — I would keep them on the basic leg presses. That’s what you can do on your own or a wall squat is even safer in these compound movements versus the rotary movements.

So, right there would be how somebody can do this on their own just knowing what machines to avoid, what exercises to avoid and what is more effective given that you have crude equipment or free weights available to you. There’s ways, again, of having an incredible workout in a full gym and avoid 90% of the equipment that’s in that gym.

Tim:                Adam, you have state of the art equipment at all of the InForm Fitness locations across the country. Can you briefly just kind of run through this type of equipment that you have? What makes it so special for InForm Fitness and this type of workout?

Adam:             The key to this type of workout — the impotence to this workout in general, lifting weights slowly was to make it safer and the special equipment is just one more step in that direction of making it safer. And one way you make exercise safer is making sure that while you’re fatiguing a muscle, you’re not doing anything harmful to the joints around that muscle and that’s where the specialized equipment really shines.

Because when you go through a range of motion through a particular exercise, let’s take the bicep curl for example, when you start the bicep curl when your arm is straight versus when it’s bent at a 90 degree angle that change and range of motion, your muscle is not the same strength. It’s much weaker when you start to position — 20%, about, weaker, than it is in the 90-degree angle. So, if you could handle 100 pounds in the strongest position, that means you can only handle about 80 pounds in the week position.

And what does this macho, tough guy do when he wants to do bicep curls? He takes the most weight he can handle which is 100 pounds in the strongest position. So, he takes 100-pound dumbbell and he starts in the week position that can only handle 80. What’s going to make us the other 20%? Well, I can tell you this, whatever is making it up, it’s not good. [laughs] Because that’s the connective tissue of the elbow, of the shoulder, of the back needing to heave and hoe just to get that extra 20%. And there’s no good that comes from that.

And if you do that regularly for all these kind of exercises for all the joints, all the time, there’s an insidious negative effect to all that because you might not have tendonitis on day one doing that but if you keep doing it where you’re straining the joints and in order to lift a weight in a certain position, over time it’s going to bite you. So, our equipment just makes it lighter in the weaker points and makes it heavier in the strong point so it matches that strength curve. And therefor you’re not straining the joints and connective tissue is not doing the work of what the major muscles should be doing.

Tim:                So, as we wrap up this episode on machine versus free weights versus body weight exercises, Adam, you did say that you don’t need to be at a InForm Fitness location in order to perform a high intensity slow motion strength training system. There are safe ways to go about this with free weights and body weights but you do need some type of a trainer and some education before you take this type of a workout outside of an InForm Fitness gym.

Adam:             Yes, you do. And it doesn’t take a lot. Knowing some of the pitfalls of free weights and certain exercises, knowing to stay away from some of the dangerous things, it wouldn’t take too long to know more than most trainers out there actually. [laughs]

Tim:                Well, a good first step might be to pick up Adam’s book, Power of 10: The Once-a-Week Slow Motion Fitness Revolution. Inside the book you’ll find several workouts that support this slow motion high intensity strength training system whether you use free weights, your own body weight or are fortunate enough to live near an InForm Fitness location. By following the three pillars Adam discusses in his book along with just a small investment of 20 to 30 minutes a week, it won’t be long until you start seeing some measurable results and achievements from your newfound strength.

Adam:             How about, “Hey, Adam, guess what, for the first time I was able to put my stuff in the overhead compartment in the airplane without some young gentleman offering me any help. I did it myself.” How about that small achievement that is a big deal to a lot of people right now?

Tim:                Just the everyday tasks alone is worth it. A very small price to pay, truly, 20 minutes —

Adam:             [Crosstalk 11:36] that’s the real functional training right there.

Tim:                [laughs] Yeah.

Sheila:             And then I’ll take it to the, you know, older, to the senior crowd I heard one of our friends Greg Burns who had some very senior — they were probably in their late 70s. They loved going on cruises and the wife had been very upset because they couldn’t go on cruises anymore because she had to — she couldn’t, like, walk around that well. They started working out, doing this workout and within the next year — like they did it for about a year and they went on a cruise and she was so happy. She felt like she had their life back again because she didn’t have to have a wheelchair. She could walk around on her own. It’s that kind of a level. It goes from snowboarding, gardening, whatever to simply being able to walk and balance yourself.

Mike:              Yeah, I’ve heard — I’ve recently also same thing, senior used to have to go up the stairs, like, you know, up one step and meet the other foot with the other foot and then up the next step and so like — and then would go on from that to one step to the next step to the next step to the next step. So, it’s like little stuff like that and —

Sheila:             Right.

Mike:              It becomes very noticeable.

Adam:             And what is this older person going to do if they didn’t have us? Like what other kind of strength training that involves the necessary intensity. What are they going to do if it’s not this? What is an older person that has problems walking up a flight of stairs, for example, as simple as that one flight of stairs they have major pain and problems with it, what are they going to do if they are that far gone already that they can’t even walk up a flight — what else are they — what is their option? A walking program? I don’t think so. What is it?

Sheila:             No.

Adam:             They got to strength train. How about — they going to join a CrossFit class?

Tim:                [laughs]

Sheila:             Like physical therapy is the other option. [laughs]

Mike:              They may find other exercise alternatives but probably one that’s not going to — they might not hurt them along the way, you know, I mean, it’s very difficult to do that and that’s why we —

Adam:             They have to strength train. They got to strengthen the muscle. They got to do it without any force because they’re so week already the last — they can’t afford any additional force that’s not necessary. They can’t afford it. They’ll break.

Tim:                So, let me ask you this then. So, how old is too old to call InForm Fitness and say, I’d like to sign up for a high intensity slow motion strength training program. How old is too old?

Adam:             That’s a good question.

Sheila:             Dead. [laughs]

Mike:              Honestly, I don’t think we can answer that question. [laughs] I don’t know if there’s an answer to that question but we can say we have people in their 90s. We have a 92-year-old woman who’s on our website. We have a nice video of her and we’ve had another 90-year-old who would still be here but she moved to Baltimore, remember, Adam?

Adam:             Yeah. Yeah.

Mike:              So, it’s like — we have several in their 80s, several in their 70s, lots in their 70s.

Adam:             More than several. Yeah. More than several.

Mike:              Yeah. Lots and lots. It’s — so —

Adam:             We forget they’re in their 70s, Mike.

Mike:              Yeah.

Adam:             Yeah. I mean —

Mike:              It’s unbelievable. That’s true.

Adam:             Honestly, like, anybody that’s over 60 and working out here, I think they’re all 60. Like I basically say, yeah we have a lot of people in their 60s but it turns out that a lot of the people that I think are in 60s are actually in their 70s.

Tim:                So, we found the fountain of youth at InForm Fitness and is not a magic pill. There’s work that goes into but like Adam was saying, a 20 minute a week investment is about as minimal as it gets. It’s safe and it’s effective and we’ve interviewed people over the last couple of months, Sheila, with the videos that we’ve been producing that I think they’re in their 50s and I’m not kidding, with no exaggeration they’re in their late 60s or early 70s and Keith comes to mind in particular.

Sheila:             Yeah. Keith is [crosstalk 15:10].

Tim:                We’re going to be talking about Keith here coming up shortly in another episode, a very charismatic gentleman and I think he’s 70 something. Is that correct? 71?

Sheila:             72.

Tim:                He’s 72 for goodness’ sake. My gosh, I thought he —

Sheila:             And he’s like solid muscle.

Tim:                Yeah.

Sheila:             And talk about intense. He just really goes intense. You know?

Tim:                So, if we have people listening we know just looking at demographics a lot of older people, baby boomers don’t necessarily listen to podcasts but we know their kids do or their grandkids do. So, if you’re a child or a grandchild of somebody that you love that you think could use some physical conditioning, you might want to give InForm Fitness a call or check them out on the website so —

Sheila:             Well, not only that. I don’t want to seem like we’re only for old people too. We have, you know, younger people that are — you know, we have 15-year-olds. We have a number of, like, in their late 20s to, you know, early 30s. And they don’t have time. You know, they’re trying to build their lives. They’re working. They’re starting to get into their, like, the peak of their, you know, careers. And they love this workout. You know, so, we have a, you know, grandson and a grandmother coming in and, you know, it’s funny because he was like, look, you know, my grandma can lift more weight than some of the girls I know.

Tim:                [laughs] That’s awesome.

Sheila:             You know, which is true because she’s been coming in religiously and just doing it, you know. Just slowly building and consistent.

Mike:              The workout is certainly for everybody. I have an 11-year-old client. I have athletes, very serious athletes here and it’s for everybody. The whole point before was just that because a lot of people get very concerned about how much they can actually exercise when they get into their golden years and even up to like their 90s, which we have them here and they’re thriving so. The limit is pretty much nowhere.

Tim:                There is no limit. Yeah.

Sheila:             Yeah.

Adam:             You know, I think the only limit — there are two limits. There are definitely some orthopedic or medical [inaudible 17:17] indications to exercise that.

Mike:              True. True.

Adam:             That’s how we gauge whether there are limitations to this, not age. Age in of itself, it doesn’t matter. It’s really the state of the person. There are some medical issues that needs to be dealt with and cleared with some medical doctors but the other limitation that I think that exists more than anything else is the mental limitation.

Sheila:             Mhm [affirmative].

Adam:             You know, I mean, if you can get somebody to kind of let go and really push themselves to an uncomfortable level that they might not be used to, if you can get them to break through that barrier, it opens up a whole world in a profound way, way beyond just getting stronger actually.

Tim:                Not just to their physical abilities but if — you know, when you’re physically pushed to the point of failure in a specific movement, I know for a fact that that mental shift can also take place in anything you do in life. I believe that what we learn in those seven or so exercises in that 20 minutes can be applied outside in every area of your life not just in your body.

Mike:              I mean, I think absolutely, when we push ourselves in almost any capacity and then afterwards we take a proper rest, our body grows, our mind grows, our, you know, like, you wouldn’t — if you didn’t sleep, your memory wouldn’t improve. All these things, all of your cognitive abilities and it applies to everything and that’s where, how do you do that in a safe fashion is and I think that InForm Fitness and the method that Adam has developed here is your best option.

Adam:             That was really cheesy. I kind of liked that moment for a while. Yeah.

Tim:                [laughs] Were we getting deep?

Adam:             You know a little cheese every once in a while, you know, as long as you’re not lactose intolerant. I guess.

Mike:              [Inaudible 19:01].

Tim:                [laughs] Never underestimate the power of cheese.

Mike:              I’m not lactose intolerant. I’ll go there all day, Adam.

Tim:                [laughter] Yeah. Just cut back on putting that cheese in your mouth if you’re looking to shed a little fat while you’re building your muscle with the Power of 10. Again, check out Adam’s book for a simple and handy list of food that you should avoid and enjoy in chapter 3, nutrition, the second pillar. We’ll provide you a link to Adam’s book in the show notes. Well that episode went by fast. If you started your high intensity training with InForm Fitness at the start of this episode, you’d be wrapping it up about now just like we are.

Hey, we’re going to be kicking off a new segment called, Fitness Fact or Fiction, in the next couple of episodes. So, if you would like to ask Adam, Mike or Sheila a question, maybe you have a comment regarding the Power of 10 or maybe you saw something on your Facebook feed regarding the many fitness trends that are making the rounds, send us an email or record a voice memo on your phone and send it to podcast@informfitness.com. You can even give us a call at 888-983-5020, Ext. 3 to leave your comment, question or suggestion. All feedback is welcome. And seriously, this is very important to us, the best way to support this show and keep it free is to subscribe to the podcast right here in iTunes or wherever you might be enjoying your podcast. Of course it is absolutely free to subscribe and we would love it if you left us a review.

Hey, our next four episodes promise to be both entertaining and educational. In this podcast you’ve heard a lot about weightlifting but not a lot regarding cardio. Should you hang onto that treadmill that’s collecting dust in your garage or continue paying for that spin class you hardly ever go to or is the cardio you need included in your 20-minute workout with InForm Fitness? We’ll discuss the cardio conundrum and fat loss in the next two episodes. Plus, we’ll be speaking with a very talented musician who’s lost 118 over the past two years by adding the Power of 10 workout to her weight loss program. We’ll catch you next week right here on the InForm Fitness podcast. For Adam Zickerman, Mike Rogers and Sheila Melody, I’m Tim Edwards with the Inbound Podcasting Network.