Top Machines to Avoid in the Gym

All machines are not created equal.

Besides the standard barbells and dumbbells and squat racks, your everyday gym more than likely contains a plethora of different machines and gadgets all aimed at improving the physical form. When it comes to the machines in your gym, some are effective, but some are less so than others. There are also some machines in your gym may even do you more harm than good. There are frankly some machines that you should avoid all together if you wish to avoid nagging injuries. Unsure of what those machines are? We’ve got your back and have created a comprehensive list on some of the machines to avoid at the gym.

Let’s dive in.

The Top Machines to Avoid in the Gym

Now, let’s take a look at the top machines to avoid in the gym if you want to actually make gains.

4. Abdominal Crunch Machine


The abdominal crunch machine, or abominable crunch machines as they should be called, are pretty useless for building adequate muscle mass for the abdomen. They are designed to mimic the bodyweight crunch by adding some extra resistance, but in reality are not as effective for building that shredded six pack that you want to show off. When working out the abs one must not only utilize stomach muscles but also the hip flexors as well. The abdominal crunch machine takes the hip flexors out of the argument banking on the idea that isolated the stomach muscles will provide a more intense exercise. It doesn’t.

3. Seated Shoulder Press Machine

gym machine to avoid

The seated shoulder press machine is yet another workout device that can prove not only useless but also dangerous all in one. It is not like the barbell or dumbbell overhead press, where you are not on a fixed bar path and have a bit of leeway in the movement. When performing the shoulder presses on a machine in such a motion it proves to put a great deal of stress on the spine and has been proven to cause back and shoulder injuries that otherwise could have been easily avoided. Using free weights instead is the way to go with this exercise; there’s less stress on the shoulders and the results are infinitely increased

2. Smith Bench PressGeneration Iron Smith Bench Press

The Smith bench press seems like a great idea in theory. Having the bar secure means less risk of injury right? You also can isolate the pectorals, right? I mean all you have to do if you want to incorporate heavy weights is slide on the plates to your desired weight and you’re good to go. Unfortunately things aren’t that simple.

The flat bench press on the Smith machine isolates the arms which some may see as a benefit, but in reality this isolation only proves to put some excess stress on your shoulders, particularly your rotator cuffs. The whole point of benching is to not only improve your chest muscles but improve overall strength in general. In order to reap the benefits of benching you’ll need to engage multiple muscle groups and use your entire body’s strength something the smith bench doesn’t offer. The old fashioned bench press works best for overall results.

Now, the incline Smith machine bench press is a different story, as the bar path is a bit better for isolating and actively engaging the upper pectorals.

1. Smith Squat Machine

Pictured above: Ivan again performing a Smith Machine squat, now with a “wide stance” position

Another machine worthy of your contempt is the Smith machine squat. Like the Smith bench press, the smith squat machine can prove to be more hazardous than one thinks. The isolation on the legs take the core out of the entire exercise which is essential to eliminating stress on the user’s knees. By focusing sole attention on the legs you run the risk of putting too much pressure on the joints.

In a freestanding squat the user’s core and lower back helps to eliminate this kind of pressure. The great thing about the smith machines are that they help with form and are great for beginners, but ultimately the price paid once you increase the weight and make steady progression just isn’t worth it. Once you learn the form it’s best to do the old fashioned freestanding squats and lift on a normal bench. Your body will thank you later.

Should You Actually Avoid These Machines?

When it comes to avoiding these gym machines entirely, that is entirely up to you. These machines can be good to provide good stimulus if you have absolutely zero other options, like if you are at a hotel or there is another shut down where gyms are not open. But in reality, there are some far better options for putting on strength and size. That being said, avoiding these machines can be beneficial to your gains.

Wrap Up

Overall, these are just a few machines that are not preferred when it comes to training, and there are some better options to add into your routine.

What machines do you find to be useless at the gym? Let us know in the comments below or sound off on our official Facebook and Twitter pages.

Dylan Wolf
I work mainly in content writing, focusing my free time on bodybuilding and strength sports. I was introduced to fitness in high school and after watching Generation Iron movies. I love to train. I have competed multiple times, even winning a junior title in classic physique. I have a bachelor's in criminal justice and business obtained through Alvernia University. When I am not focused on work or training, I enjoy watching films or reading about anything and everything.