WHY WEIGHT MACHINES AREN'T ALWAYS BAD
Trying to always find or create exercises that replicate your sport isn’t the only way to strength train. More often than not athletes and coaches avoid the weight machines in the gym as they feel they aren’t specific enough for running, swimming or cycling.
But if you have access to a gym that has a number of these machines you can definitely use them to your advantage. Instead of looking to select exercises that mimic the action of running, choose exercises based on your desired outcome. What do we want? We want to train using exercises that will strengthen and activate more of our joint stabilisers and force producers. We want to reinforce the structures of our joints so that they are able to withstand and stay strong for as long as possible when we train or race.
These weight machines allow us to generate much greater force production and activation in a controlled environment, than most body weight exercises. So we are not saying that all your usual exercises should be replaced with ones using a machine, but a combination of the two can definitely provide great benefits.
A few examples:
This machine allows you to work the muscles like you would in a squat. Lots of athletes especially triathletes lack mobility through there hips and ankles, which affects how much weight they can put on their back or front. This machine allows you to add more load without worrying about stability and mobility issues like you would in standing. You can work this with both legs or each leg individually.
Lat Pull down
Some coaches shy away from lat pull down especially those working with the swimmers amongst you, as 'swimming is technically not a pulling action.' However the majority of us spend day to day life with our backs hunched and shoulders forward (at desks, driving, on our phones). The lat pull down looks to combat these bad habits by strengthening our posterior. At the end of the day better posture means better performance.
Note: When working on any weight machine, always ensure that you train with full range of motion and that you are in control of the motion in both directions.