Monday, February 22, 2010
I go to the gym reluctantly. I do my required 1/2 hour on the treadmill, trying to convince my tired old heart that it's good for another 50,000 miles without a major overhaul. Then I do a series of resistance training stations, aka, weights of one sort or another. While earning (and polishing) my halo, I've observed that 95% or so of the people using the Nautilus equipment are cheating the machines. Some outrageously, some a little bit, but hey -- everybody cheats.
How do you cheat an exercise machine? The Nautilus / Fitlinxx setup won't let you cheat on range of motion by the simple expedient of not recording any rep that fails to go all the way up and all the way down. But people get around that by not signing in to the system .... they just walk up to a machine, set the weights, and whale away.
Another great way to cheat is to ignore the timing guidelines. The guidelines Fitlinxx uses are 2 seconds up, 4 seconds down. The point of this is to makes sure you're doing the lift long enough to get some benefit from it. Hah! There's a seated calf exercise machine (no, it's not making veal more comfortable before The End). I've seen guys rocking the machine at 3 strokes a second! They have the weight set very high, often maxed out, but are they really lifting it? Nope. That's because they're using the rocking motion and momentum to do the job for them. And, of course, they aren't positioning their feet properly, so the range of travel is greatly reduced AND they're gaining leverage they're not entitled to.
"I lifted 240 pounds for 20 reps on the calf machine!" Bullshit. Or veal shit.
The ab machine (crunches) is another cheater's favorite ... same deal. Adjust the seat to effectively shorten the travel, very fast strokes. Such heroes!
And then there's the old standby of just not doing all the reps you are committed to. Too easy, that one, hardly worth a mention.
I've got to tell you, I catch myself cheating the machines. For me the pec fly is the real villain, so I'll grab a second's rest at the top of the lift by propping my hands on one another before starting the downward move. I catch myself doing this, and stop for a while, but pretty soon (around the 12th rep) I'll catch myself in the act again.
So I'm not immune, though probably more disciplined than some. The motivation for cheating may be straightforward -- lifting hurts. Anything to ease the pain a bit is welcome. But it may also be more complicated. Seems that a lot of the folks in there want to tell themselves (and the world) they're really exercising, but they lack the commitment to real results that doing it the right way would get them. Maybe it's sort of like wearing a pregnancy puff -- you want the world to think you're one way, when really you're still your unimproved self.
By the way, men and women both seem to cheat about the same amount. That is, most of them are doing it. The ones who really gall me are the folks who let the weights drop with a crash, as if they're doing something heroic.
Well, there's nothing here outside the normal run of human behavior. It's just disappointing to see so much of it in an arena where self-improvement is the cause, and doing it the hard way is the only viable way to get results. Cheating the machine is, after all, only a way of cheating yourself. I'm above all that, of course!
Now, I'm just finishing my treadmill time, and the machine says I've used up 440 calories. Guess I'll stop at the snack bar for a latte as a reward for my good behavior! Bye for now.
Posted by Eric at 4:14 PM