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Machines Not So Great for NeuroMuscular Activation?
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coach-jeff

Louisiana, USA

Over at BB.com one of the more respected posters has repeatedly posted about the concept of neuromuscular activation, stating that machines create the least of it.

I will quote him here...

"The Bulgarians determined that exercises with the highest "NMA" factor, or Neuro Muscular Activation will produce the greatest results for the bodypart trained.

In case there are people on this site who don't understand why "Bulgarian" research is so useful, Bulgaria basically devoted ALL of their sports research to Olympic lifting and weight training, as only an Eastern Bloc country could do. Their thinking was why water it down, we are small lets just devote to one sport that we can be good at (short, stock population) for the glory of communism.


NMA hierarchy: from "lowest" to highest

1. Isolation exercises on variable resistance machines e.g. nautilus leg extension

2. Compound exercise, variable resistance machine e.g. Nautilus chest press.

3. Isolation exercise, non-variable resistance machine e.g. universal leg extension, pulley curls etc

4. Non variable resistance compound exercises e.g. smith machine bench press.

5. Isolation exercises, free weight e.g. db flye, db side lateral

6. Compound exercises, free weight e.g. bench press

7. HIGHEST-Moving the body through space e.g. Squat, Deadlift, Chin-up etc. Yes, WEIGHTED push-ups, according to this, would be superior to Bench presses if they could be practically done.

Notice free weight isolation exercises are higher than machine compounds, so flyes would be better size builders than smith bench presses, which I would believe from experience.

I think having beginners start with machines is a HUGE and DANGEROUS mistake. When one trains with machines, the prime movers get stronger, while the stabilizers get proportionately even weaker, so when free weights are eventually used, you are VERY vulnerable to injury."

END QUOTE....

Now I am personally rather skeptical that there is that big a difference between free-weights and machines in terms of results in the long-run. But this claim about neuromuscular activation has got me wondering.

I do not have the time to research this in-depth these days, so was wondering if any here are familiar with this research and it's validity or non-validity?
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Landau

Florida, USA

coachjeff wrote:
Over at BB.com one of the more respected posters has repeatedly posted about the concept of neuromuscular activation, stating that machines create the least of it.

I will quote him here...

"The Bulgarians determined that exercises with the highest "NMA" factor, or Neuro Muscular Activation will produce the greatest results for the bodypart trained.

In case there are people on this site who don't understand why "Bulgarian" research is so useful, Bulgaria basically devoted ALL of their sports research to Olympic lifting and weight training, as only an Eastern Bloc country could do. Their thinking was why water it down, we are small lets just devote to one sport that we can be good at (short, stock population) for the glory of communism.


NMA hierarchy: from "lowest" to highest

1. Isolation exercises on variable resistance machines e.g. nautilus leg extension

2. Compound exercise, variable resistance machine e.g. Nautilus chest press.

3. Isolation exercise, non-variable resistance machine e.g. universal leg extension, pulley curls etc

4. Non variable resistance compound exercises e.g. smith machine bench press.

5. Isolation exercises, free weight e.g. db flye, db side lateral

6. Compound exercises, free weight e.g. bench press

7. HIGHEST-Moving the body through space e.g. Squat, Deadlift, Chin-up etc. Yes, WEIGHTED push-ups, according to this, would be superior to Bench presses if they could be practically done.

Notice free weight isolation exercises are higher than machine compounds, so flyes would be better size builders than smith bench presses, which I would believe from experience.

I think having beginners start with machines is a HUGE and DANGEROUS mistake. When one trains with machines, the prime movers get stronger, while the stabilizers get proportionately even weaker, so when free weights are eventually used, you are VERY vulnerable to injury."

END QUOTE....

Now I am personally rather skeptical that there is that big a difference between free-weights and machines in terms of results in the long-run. But this claim about neuromuscular activation has got me wondering.

I do not have the time to research this in-depth these days, so was wondering if any here are familiar with this research and it's validity or non-validity?


"We are small," let's devote all our subsidies for a Sport we are obsessed with. Sport, Numbers Game, and then cull from the herd. A friend once told me that the Strongest Men in the World are busy making Money at Football. Arthur Jones once said: A muscle is a muscle and does not know the difference between a Nautilus Machine, a Barbell, or a Sack of Rocks. I have tons of Raw Footage of Bulgarian Weightlifters and all they do is the Practice of the technique of Hurling and "cleaning" Barbells in a particular fashion - Impressive beyond Hell, but a Sport Nonetheless. Just some experienced thoughts..........
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southbeach

Landau wrote:

"We are small," let's devote all our subsidies for a Sport we are obsessed with. Sport, Numbers Game, and then cull from the herd. A friend once told me that the Strongest Men in the World are busy making Money at Football. Arthur Jones once said: A muscle is a muscle and does not know the difference between a Nautilus Machine, a Barbell, or a Sack of Rocks. I have tons of Raw Footage of Bulgarian Weightlifters and all they do is the Practice of the technique of Hurling and "cleaning" Barbells in a particular fashion - Impressive beyond Hell, but a Sport Nonetheless. Just some experienced thoughts..........


+100
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marcrph

Portugal

From the second of birth, until death, all humans use their muscles to overcome gravity's effect.
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southbeach

marcrph wrote:
From the second of birth, until death, all humans use their muscles to overcome gravity's effect.


Yes. Gravity as such a great servant but a poor master. AJ thru his cam directed & controlled gravity! "Meated" it (gravity) out at will.

The CAM is one of the greatest innovations in its mechanical simplicity but profound implication.

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coach-jeff

Louisiana, USA

I agree the word "BULGARIAN" in any training article or discussion should activate one's "BS Detection System" rather quickly.

And I am NO fan of any form of ballistic weight-training, which of course is what the Bulgarians are known for.

However, just because most of us strongly disagree with ballistic weight-training, doesn't mean those damn commies didn't know a thing or two about neuromuscular activation potential of free-weights vs. machines.

At first I thought this concept was just simply stating the obvious...that big compound movements activate more total muscle than iso-exercises. No big revelation there, right?

But if you read closer, it's saying that a free-weight DB fly has better NMA than a machine bench-press! That the free-weight iso actually beats out the machine compound movement.

Now I'm not sure if this is due strictly to deeper stabilizer muscles being activated, or if the prime-mover is actually being activated to a higher degree, but I think it's the latter.

(I know many in HIT community cringe at the phrase "stabilizer muscles" - but there ARE "superficial" muscles which act as PRIME-MOVERS, as well as deeper muscles designed to act somewhat more isometrically as stabilizers.)

Can anyone actually refute this claim, other than saying throwing weights is BAD, which I already agree with?

I really would like to believe machines work as well for NMA, since I use them a lot. But I care more about objective truth than confirming my biases. And I'm feeling like maybe I've had an intellectual blind-spot on this issue.

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marcrph

Portugal

southbeach wrote:
marcrph wrote:
From the second of birth, until death, all humans use their muscles to overcome gravity's effect.

Yes. Gravity as such a great servant but a poor master. AJ thru his cam directed & controlled gravity! "Meated" it (gravity) out at will.

The CAM is one of the greatest innovations in its mechanical simplicity but profound implication.



"controlled gravity"......LOL.....The weight stack still goes up and down....just redirected gravity effects....with resultant restraint of free movement pattern. There is no overcoming of gravity....here forever.
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coach-jeff

Louisiana, USA

southbeach wrote:
marcrph wrote:
From the second of birth, until death, all humans use their muscles to overcome gravity's effect.

Yes. Gravity as such a great servant but a poor master. AJ thru his cam directed & controlled gravity! "Meated" it (gravity) out at will.

The CAM is one of the greatest innovations in its mechanical simplicity but profound implication.



But is there even one study which shows that variable-resistance cam machines build more muscle than free-weights? Cause no matter how "logical" a theory or training application may seem, the ONLY thing that counts are REAL WORLD results, right?

My current belief is that variable cams may offer some safety benefits by decreasing load/torque in biomechanically disadvantaged positions, but am not convinced they actually help BUILD MORE MUSCLE than free-weight or bodyweight movements.

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southbeach

marcrph wrote:
southbeach wrote:
marcrph wrote:
From the second of birth, until death, all humans use their muscles to overcome gravity's effect.

Yes. Gravity as such a great servant but a poor master. AJ thru his cam directed & controlled gravity! "Meated" it (gravity) out at will.

The CAM is one of the greatest innovations in its mechanical simplicity but profound implication.



"controlled gravity"......LOL.....The weight stack still goes up and down....just redirected gravity effects....with resultant restraint of free movement pattern. There is no overcoming of gravity....here forever.


redirected "gravity effects"? WTH does that even mean??

What "restraint of free movement"? How many joints do you want to involve? A BARBELL is the ultimate restricter of free movement because it must go strait UP & down (otherwise it's effect is rendered ineffectual). Talk about restriction of free movement LOLOL

The CAM frees you the restraint of "up/down" only. mORE IMPORTANTLY the cam can take that same weightstack make it so heavy YOu couldn't lift an OUNCE. Or make it so light you could lift the Earth!

Are you really this dense?
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Landau

Florida, USA

coachjeff wrote:
I agree the word "BULGARIAN" in any training article or discussion should activate one's "BS Detection System" rather quickly.

And I am NO fan of any form of ballistic weight-training, which of course is what the Bulgarians are known for.

However, just because most of us strongly disagree with ballistic weight-training, doesn't mean those damn commies didn't know a thing or two about neuromuscular activation potential of free-weights vs. machines.

At first I thought this concept was just simply stating the obvious...that big compound movements activate more total muscle than iso-exercises. No big revelation there, right?

But if you read closer, it's saying that a free-weight DB fly has better NMA than a machine bench-press! That the free-weight iso actually beats out the machine compound movement.

Now I'm not sure if this is due strictly to deeper stabilizer muscles being activated, or if the prime-mover is actually being activated to a higher degree, but I think it's the latter.

(I know many in HIT community cringe at the phrase "stabilizer muscles" - but there ARE "superficial" muscles which act as PRIME-MOVERS, as well as deeper muscles designed to act somewhat more isometrically as stabilizers.)

Can anyone actually refute this claim, other than saying throwing weights is BAD, which I already agree with?

I really would like to believe machines work as well for NMA, since I use them a lot. But I care more about objective truth than confirming my biases. And I'm feeling like maybe I've had an intellectual blind-spot on this issue.



This "argument" can be traced back over 100 years, when Bernarr MacFadden freaked out and wrote a disparaging article when he got news of the Zander Machines. "Neuromuscular activation" certainly is a Buzz Word Phrase, but it creates an unnecessary science when there isn't one. It's a guesswork at best when applied to the moving of weights, machines, and or implements. So the source prevails over substance and relates directly to the bias of the instigator. If you are wasting time reading posts over at bodybuilding or musclehead dot com for "information purposes," then you have my sympathy.
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entsminger

Virginia, USA

==Scott==
Oh not this argument of machines vrs free weights again,, ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ !!!
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marcrph

Portugal

southbeach wrote:
marcrph wrote:
southbeach wrote:
marcrph wrote:
From the second of birth, until death, all humans use their muscles to overcome gravity's effect.

Yes. Gravity as such a great servant but a poor master. AJ thru his cam directed & controlled gravity! "Meated" it (gravity) out at will.

The CAM is one of the greatest innovations in its mechanical simplicity but profound implication.



"controlled gravity"......LOL.....The weight stack still goes up and down....just redirected gravity effects....with resultant restraint of free movement pattern. There is no overcoming of gravity....here forever.

redirected "gravity effects"? WTH does that even mean??

What "restraint of free movement"? How many joints do you want to involve? A BARBELL is the ultimate restricter of free movement because it must go strait UP & down (otherwise it's effect is rendered ineffectual). Talk about restriction of free movement LOLOL

The CAM frees you the restraint of "up/down" only. mORE IMPORTANTLY the cam can take that same weightstack make it so heavy YOu couldn't lift an OUNCE. Or make it so light you could lift the Earth!

Are you really this dense?


Nautilus must build some incredible monster muscle mass then
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marcrph

Portugal

southbeach wrote:
marcrph wrote:
southbeach wrote:
marcrph wrote:
From the second of birth, until death, all humans use their muscles to overcome gravity's effect.

Yes. Gravity as such a great servant but a poor master. AJ thru his cam directed & controlled gravity! "Meated" it (gravity) out at will.

The CAM is one of the greatest innovations in its mechanical simplicity but profound implication.



"controlled gravity"......LOL.....The weight stack still goes up and down....just redirected gravity effects....with resultant restraint of free movement pattern. There is no overcoming of gravity....here forever.

redirected "gravity effects"? WTH does that even mean??

What "restraint of free movement"? How many joints do you want to involve? A BARBELL is the ultimate restricter of free movement because it must go strait UP & down (otherwise it's effect is rendered ineffectual). Talk about restriction of free movement LOLOL

The CAM frees you the restraint of "up/down" only. mORE IMPORTANTLY the cam can take that same weightstack make it so heavy YOu couldn't lift an OUNCE. Or make it so light you could lift the Earth!

Are you really this dense?


Nautilus must build some incredible monster muscle mass then
Open User Options Menu

coach-jeff

Louisiana, USA

entsminger wrote:
==Scott==
Oh not this argument of machines vrs free weights again,, ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ !!!


Yes, this is probably not the place for an objective discussion on this matter, as most HITers are firmly pro-machine. But ya gotta admit it's better than talking about rep-speed and physics equations.

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southbeach

marcrph wrote:
southbeach wrote:
marcrph wrote:
southbeach wrote:
marcrph wrote:
From the second of birth, until death, all humans use their muscles to overcome gravity's effect.

Yes. Gravity as such a great servant but a poor master. AJ thru his cam directed & controlled gravity! "Meated" it (gravity) out at will.

The CAM is one of the greatest innovations in its mechanical simplicity but profound implication.



"controlled gravity"......LOL.....The weight stack still goes up and down....just redirected gravity effects....with resultant restraint of free movement pattern. There is no overcoming of gravity....here forever.

redirected "gravity effects"? WTH does that even mean??

What "restraint of free movement"? How many joints do you want to involve? A BARBELL is the ultimate restricter of free movement because it must go strait UP & down (otherwise it's effect is rendered ineffectual). Talk about restriction of free movement LOLOL

The CAM frees you the restraint of "up/down" only. mORE IMPORTANTLY the cam can take that same weightstack make it so heavy YOu couldn't lift an OUNCE. Or make it so light you could lift the Earth!

Are you really this dense?

Nautilus must build some incredible monster muscle mass then


The thing that guarantees INCREDIBLE muscle mass are "performance enhancers".

YOU use barbells. would you say you have incredible monster muscle mass? How do you think you'll fair in next Mr O??

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coach-jeff

Louisiana, USA

Of course I will also say that I've yet to see any scientific proof that free-weights build muscle any better than a machine either. So I lean towards believing this whole issue is a probably a red-herring. And even if free-weights were shown to give slightly better results, I think that would have to be weighed against safety issues. The average Joe and Jane are much safer doing a machine bench press or fly IMO than the free-weight versions. Heck, I know what I'm doing with free-weights, and even I sometimes get a wee bit nervous when doing real heavy DB bench presses. One misstep and my teeth are going to get knocked out by a falling DB. But no danger of lost dentition on my ole 10-degree chest machine.

But still would like to know if there really is much of an increase in the NMA of the TARGET MUSCLE with free weights. And if so, does that even matter much?

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Landau

Florida, USA

coachjeff wrote:
entsminger wrote:
==Scott==
Oh not this argument of machines vrs free weights again,, ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ !!!

Yes, this is probably not the place for an objective discussion on this matter, as most HITers are firmly pro-machine. But ya gotta admit it's better than talking about rep-speed and physics equations.



Hell, I use both and have Mechanical Apparatus that is Never seen anywhere. I'm about tools that can get the Job done. I even have a Rare Francis Curl Bar that one of my "clients" formally addresses.
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Landau

Florida, USA

coachjeff wrote:
Of course I will also say that I've yet to see any scientific proof that free-weights build muscle any better than a machine either. So I lean towards believing this whole issue is a probably a red-herring. And even if free-weights were shown to give slightly better results, I think that would have to be weighed against safety issues. The average Joe and Jane are much safer doing a machine bench press or fly IMO than the free-weight versions. Heck, I know what I'm doing with free-weights, and even I sometimes get a wee bit nervous when doing real heavy DB bench presses. One misstep and my teeth are going to get knocked out by a falling DB. But no danger of lost dentition on my ole 10-degree chest machine.

But still would like to know if there really is much of an increase in the NMA of the TARGET MUSCLE with free weights. And if so, does that even matter much?



The key is your last sentence/question, which is a Slippery Slope.
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kurtvf

coachjeff wrote:
entsminger wrote:
==Scott==
Oh not this argument of machines vrs free weights again,, ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ !!!

Yes, this is probably not the place for an objective discussion on this matter, as most HITers are firmly pro-machine. But ya gotta admit it's better than talking about rep-speed and physics equations.

And veganism............



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davise

So by that argument, dumbbells should be better than barbells?
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AShortt

Ontario, CAN

There is 'feel', there is reflexive reactions, there are CNS interpretations. The fact is though it is ultimately up to the lifter to learn to properly load and target muscles. I have always found the least buffer between load and muscle to be easiest to feel and target with. This is why so many still choose simple body weight and free weight moves. Stability matters though. If you waste too much effort balancing the load your targetting will be poor. Thus, you may need excessive practice and excessive loads to make deep inroads.

Be your own guide and balance...pardon the pun...feel with control. Everyone is individual and has inherited skill levels. For example I have a Nautilus 2st chin/dip assist. Nothing to this day hits me harder than lightened dipping and chinning made hard through rep techniques (rather than load).The combo of direct body weight load and stability of knee pad is damn near perfect...for me.

Regards,
Andrew
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DNAHelix

New York, USA

Landau wrote:
Arthur Jones once said: A muscle is a muscle and does not know the difference between a Nautilus Machine, a Barbell, or a Sack of Rocks.


The above is the ultimate truth!



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coach-jeff

Louisiana, USA

Ya know...I'm a sucka for all kinds of theoretical training discussions, because I'm a geek that way. So the theory of neuromuscular-activation is intriguing to me.

But I'm also very much a pragmatist, and therefore ultimately care more about real world results than logical sounding theories.

And it is VERY interesting to me that many DOGGCRAP trainees are getting flat jacked on very machine-based workouts. (As many of you know DC training is VERY HIT-like) The founder of DC (Dante) likes the machines for safety sake when pushing to utter failure. And there is no arguing with the results he's getting with his "students" doing very machine oriented, abbreviated powerbuilding type routines. So there is real world evidence that machines can take people to the highest level it seems.

So screw those Bulgarians!
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coach-jeff

Louisiana, USA

Here's a great quote from Dante of Doggcrap training fame regarding his use of machines for training...

"With my training methods you have to go to failure 3 times during a set. If i had a training partner who could fit my schedule I would do free weight incline bench--I dont. So I do incline bench on the smythe machine so I dont guillatine myself going for an extra rep and not making it. Its as simple as that...I do inclines with 300-400lbs, I cant exactly scoot out of there on a free weight incline if I get stuck with it on my chest and to teach someone how to spot me rest pausingwise in 30 seconds is impossible. So what am i supposed to do? Take a chance of killing myself on free incline bench or live for another day and be able to hook the weight if I get in trouble? Its as simple as that and the ONE AND ONLY REASON I use the smythe machine in my training. Alot of times I dont have a training partner (besides my wife) and trust me she sure as heck at 110lbs bodyweight cant pull 350 off my chest up to racks. I use whatever I can to safely do a movement where i can go to failure 3 times during it. I squat inside a power rack with the safety bars at a height where if i have to dump it, I can---same exact reason---safety."
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Robert Francis

New York, USA

Oh,. If the Bugarians say so I suppose it must be so. After all, as a people they are so well reknowned and world accomplished.

Zand.
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