By Nick Nilsson
Author of 30-Second Ab-Solution
Almost every single gym in the world has a piece of equipment in it that every member hates to use.
It sits in the corner like a mousetrap, waiting for the next victim to get close. I've traveled the world in search of the worst of these diabolical machines (well, not really, but you get the idea).
Keep in mind, these are real pieces of equipment that I've actually used (but not for long).
1. The Power Rack With Aluminum Safety Rails
If a rack has safety rails that are 1 inch in diameter, weigh 3 pounds each and are BENT, stay far, far away.
2. The Eight-Foot Pulldown Machine
Have you ever used a pulldown machine where you needed to stand up on the seat to be able to reach the bar? It's about as practical as playing golf with a bowling ball (a little tricky to get into position if you're using more than your bodyweight too).
3. The Back-Breaker Crunch Machine
Try a rep in this thing. It'll fold you up like an enchilada and not in a good way. That sharp, shooting pain in your lower back does NOT mean your abs are working.
4. The Short and Skinny Flat Bench
I have no idea who built this thing as I've only ever seen it one gym but this guy needs to be fired. This wonderfully unstable twelve-inch long bench is perfect for exercises that don't require a good base of support or pretty much any support at all. It was the only "bench" in the entire gym that wasn't nailed down so it was all I had to use for 500-pound partial bench presses. Fun!
5. The Shoulder-Separator Flye Machine
The designers of this machine must not have realized that your shoulders don't bend backwards quite as far as they go forward. Never before had I seen a machine that almost made your elbows touch behind your back for a "complete" stretch.
6. The Self-Impaling Cable Row Machine
I quite like cable row machines that have a support pad for your chest. I encountered one version that had a pad that was all of 2 square inches and set so that it pressed directly into your solar plexus as you rowed. It was like getting punched in the guts with every rep!
7. The Trampoline Stair Machine
What could be better than a stair machine that automatically shoots your one leg back up so fast as you push the other one down that you almost knock your teeth out with your knee? How about an escalator.
8. The Crooked Smith Machine
Normally when you look at the bar on a Smith Machine, it is horizontal. Not this thing. I must confess, I didn't actually use it though. The fact that everyone who did any exercises on this machine walked away leaning at a 20-degree angle kind of scared me off.
9. The Seatless Stationary Bike
I didn't actually use this one either, for reasons too painful to discuss.
10. The Knee-Cracker Leg Extension Machine
The leg extension is not the healthiest exercise for your knees to begin with but the designer of this machine for some reason felt it necessary to enhance this danger by inclining the seat. Imagine doing a leg extension with your hips down, your knees up level with your chest and your heels forced back underneath your butt.
When the sounds of someone crushing bubble wrap comes out of your knees, you know something is not quite right with the machine.
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