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Machine Throwdown: Comparing Popular Gym Stations

Personal trainer Matt McGorry picks the winners between these popular pieces of gym equipment and explains why.

45-Degree Back Extension Vs. Pin Selected Back Extension

“Most people can’t maintain a neutral or arched lower-back position while sitting at their desks, so having them try to do it with resistance—which occurs using the pin-selected machine—is much more likely to cause an injury,” McGorry says.

“Just as proper deadlift technique involves more movement at the hips, the 45-degree bench also allows the trainee to involve the hamstrings, glutes, and calves. Hands down, the 45-degree back extension is the better option.”

Winner: 45-Degree Back Extension

Prone Hamstring Curl Vs. Seated Hamstring Curl

“Any machine that uses muscle groups more closely to their real-life function gets my vote,” McGorry says. “The prone hamstring curl allows the hips to be in a position close to extension, which allows the glutes to assist the hamstrings in the exercise.

"The seated hamstring curl takes the glutes out of the equation to a great degree, and while it may burn, it’s less likely to develop functional movement patterns. Plus, most people sit too much, so having them sit in the gym while performing an exercise that excludes the glutes but tightens the hamstrings is just not optimal.”

Winner: Prone Hamstring Curl

Pec Deck Flye Vs. Cable Crossover

“The cable crossover allows the user to choose the path of motion, which avoids forcing someone into a precarious position that can cause an injury,” McGorry says. “Since all bodies are different, the chances that you can find a comfortable position will be greater, plus it gives you more options for angles of the cables to emphasize different portions of the chest.

"The pec flye forces the user into the same pattern of movement due to its single hinge. Over time, this can create overuse injuries, something less likely to happen in free weight or cable exercises that allow for natural movement patterns.”

Winner: Cable Crossover

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