Top 5 Worst Weight Machines

top 5 worst weight machinesFive of the Worst Selectorized Resistance Training Machines in the Gym

While the gym is no doubt filled to the walls with many different pieces of equipment, not all the equipment is equal when it comes down to effectiveness. In fact, many machines in the gym are in my opinion sitting right on the border of being practically worthless, at least for many of us that is.

Don’t get me wrong though, selectorized weight training machines including those which I’m going to cover here are still beneficial for many depending on their individual goals. However, in many if not most cases, there are much better exercise options available to work a particular muscle group. This is especially true with the five machines covered here.

So without further ado, here are what I consider five of the worst weight training machines in the gym.

#5. Seated Chest Press

Chest Press MachineWhy the Chest Press Machine is One of the Top 5 Worst Weight Machines

Not that the chest press nor any machines on the list are really that bad, but there are many better exercise options for the chest.

The chest press machine is good for isolating a small portion of the chest but does little to help build functional strength and could easily lead to injury if the machine is not set up right or the exercise is performed incorrectly.

The better chest exercises do not require brain surgery or the physique of a professional bodybuilder to perform either.

Why the Chest Press Machine is so Popular in the Gym

The selectorized seated chest press is a very straight forward machine that I guess you could call a lazy person’s machine! Selectorized seated chest press usually requires a single or 2 adjustments and many gyms even have a couple of these machines so they are hard to miss.

#4. Butt Blaster

Hip Extension Machine aka Butt BlasterWhy the Hip Extension Machine is One of the Top 5 Worst Weight Machines

The weight machine for isolated hip extension is called many different names. You may see a machine called, glute master or butt blaster or something to that effect.

The selectorized hip extension machine works the motion of isolated hip extension which is worthless for most people because it can further increase muscle imbalances due to overactive hamstrings compensating for weak glute muscles.

Why the Hip Extension Weight Machine is so Popular in the Gym

Most people do not understand that all functional leg exercises such as squats, lunges and step-ups require glute activation.

Many people also believe that this exercise will rid them of cellulite and/or help them tone up, burning fat off their behind which is due to the belief of the age old fitness myth of spot-reduction.

#3. Lower Back Extension

Lower Back MachineWhy the Low Back Extension Machine is One of the Top 5 Worst Weight Machines

Do you remember when your parents, friends or co-workers told you to lift with your legs when you lift heavy household objects?

Using the lower back extension machine is the equivalent of lifting a heavy object with your lower back only and not bending your legs.

When you lift a heavy object at home such as a TV, the correct way to lift would help functionally strengthen your lower back such as performing a dead lift with proper form.

The motion provided by the lower back extension machine is totally unnatural and can even lead to injury if performed incorrectly.

Why the Low Back Extension Machine is so Popular in the Gym

A common reason for performing low back extension on these machines is the belief that it will burn fat off of the lower back and love handles area. This again, is not true and a fitness myth.

Many people are too lazy to perform the most beneficial exercises such as squats and dead lifts so they believe the selectorized low back extension machine is necessary for strengthening their lower back when it really is one of the worst weight machines. Don’t forget that a hernia is a real risk with exercising.

#2. Seated Ab Crunch

Seated Ab Crunch MachineWhy the Seated Ab Crunch Machine is One of the Top 5 Worst Weight Machines

The reason for using any exercise machine should be to benefit your body in strength, improve muscle tone, help your body function better or help increase your metabolism.

The selectorized seated ab crunch machine provides very little benefits.

The motion which is mostly hip flexion can lead to muscle imbalance and poor posture and it is something which is completely useless for activities of daily living, athletics, and even working your abdominal muscles.

Why the Seated Ab Crunch Machine is so Popular in the Gym

Yet another machine which is most commonly used because of the misconception that abdominal exercises burn abdominal fat.

The seated ab crunch machine adds weight to the myth. People associate the more weight they use with better results, stronger abs, and less fat which is not the case.

#1. Inner / Outer Thigh

Inner Outer Thigh MachineWhy the Inner / Outer Thigh Weight Machines is One of the Top 5 Worst Weight Machines

The inner and outer thigh machines are the worst weight machines mostly because of the use with the belief that it will reduce thigh size, tone the legs or reduce cellulite.

The fact is, inner and outer thigh machines are a complete waste of time for most people in the gym.

The muscles that the machine works are muscles which are responsible for stabilization of the legs during functional activities such as walking and running.

Using the inner and outer thigh machine does more harm than good for most people by creating muscle imbalances which can possibly lead to posture problems.

Why the Inner / Outer Thigh Machine is so Popular in the Gym

The inner / outer thigh machines are very popular machines amongst women because they think it will tone their hips and thighs. This is the one weight machine which you almost always see in use and sometimes there are even lines waiting to use it.

The common belief in the fitness myth of spot reduction is a very common misconception which is the reason why the inner / outer thigh selectorized machines are so popular.

These machines or any machines will not tone any body part if it is covered with fat, period.

The Bottom Line

While every weight training machine in the gym has its place, I believe these five machines are among the worst five options available. There are simply much better exercises that you can utilize to work the muscles that each machine is designed to target. However, some of these machines are a good starter option for some new exercisers and for those with specific goals, so I wouldn’t go as far as saying these machines are completely worthless, but I’d personally look at other exercise options if you’re truly looking to maximize your time in the gym.

What’s your take on these machines? Have you used them before? Let me know in the comments below!

About Michael Behnken

Mike Behnken is a personal trainer who holds multiple NASM certifications and a MS in Exercise Science. Mike loves fitness, travel, and photography among many other interests.


Leave a Reply
  1. “The motion provided by the lower back extension machine is totally unnatural and can even lead to injury if performed incorrectly.”

    If performed incorrectly, any exercise and machine can cause injury. I suffered from lower back pain and weakness for years, and no other machine (bench, ball), or exercise (cobra) helped strengthen and decrease the pain like this did. I wish more gyms had this machine.

  2. This is probably one of the most stupid un educated articles I have read. Most of the machines listed here are probably some of the best ones an individual can use. The issue hear is not the machines but lack of understanding the proper use and technique. I can sit here and write an article stating 5 worst exercises squat, lunge and deadlift and proceed to go on about how hunching your back and lifting heavy weights of the ground is un natural and dangerous or how bashing your knees off the ground doing lunges is dangerous on your joints. Let’s write about how squatting is terrible because a large number of people’s genetic make up and bone length ratios don’t allow them to squat properly. This is essentially what your doing. In reality most machines including the ones you listed hear are not only not the worst they are far superior and safer than the body weight or free weight alternatives. A well designed machine (nautilus chest press machine) for example that is set up correctly for the user provides proper muscle loading through a full range of motion allowing the user to reach a safer and more effective point of muscular contraction then a bench press or dumbbell press. Maybe the person that’s ” lazy” on the chest press is actually the only intelligent one. Why don’t you write an article about how people should start riding horses to work instead of driving because horses are more functional and safer.

    • I agree with some of your points Bill most definitely, however, I do not agree that this is the most stupid uneducated article. Have you read some of the shit that is out there man? To label this the most uneducated article is uneducated in itself, seriously. And by the way it’s spelled uneducated, not un educated. The author here was simply stating his opinion, just as you stated your opinion. He’s basically saying that there are better machines than these and he’s labeling them the worst because he feels they are most often used incorrectly out of other pieces of equipment in the gym. He even goes on to conclude that every weight training machine in the gym has its place so he’s not totally bashing these to oblivion. Peace!

      • Here is a mind blowing idea Vito B “5 most commonly misused weight machines” if that is really what the author was trying to portray when claiming the chest press is a lazy persons machine. How about ” the real use behind these 5 weight machines” let me explain to you Vito that the reason this article is beyond stupid is because of the effect that this narrow minded and incorrect opinion have on so many people. There will be hundreds of un experienced gym goers who will read this and say to there friends in the gym ” don’t use that Betty I saw an article about how that machine is bad, unnatural and can hurt you” and then she will tell her friends machines are bad and so on and so on until you have people paying upwards around $50 and $60 dollars a training session to have some UNEDUCATED trainer stand there and yell at them to jump up and down clapping there hands or swing kettlebells around over their head or strap sandbags to there neck and run around a parking lot. This is sadly what the fitness industry is turning into today and articles like this are exactly how it starts. People begin thinking machines are dangerous or ” for lazy people” and end up paying a fortune for less effective more dangerous forms of exercise with for the most part could be performed In their basement for free.

  3. It’s all about the way that you use the equipment. I was using a 3 lb dumbbell (3 lb for crying out loud). However, I was doing the movement incorrectly and screwed up my rotator cuff! I’ve been using the inner/outer thigh machines religiously for the past year and the definition in my thighs is worth doing them, in my opinion. I’ve been using the back extension machine also…it helps my upper thighs, butt and tummy…yes, I tweak the way I use it. Engaging my abs and glutes when I’m using these machines makes a huge difference…for me. I’ve used the other machines and given up on them but like you said for us newbies it’s a good start.

  4. Hey Mike!
    what do you think of use a hip extension machine similar to the butt blaster but only to complement squats & lunges?
    I can never get the butt to burn out before my thighs with both of those exercises even though i know they are the best.
    Isn’t it good to try & isolate them as well if we want to really tone them?

    • Hi Marcus,
      Sounds like you’re on the right track but don’t forget deadlifts along with squats and lunges. Deadlifts will really get your butt and hamstrings. The hip extexion is fine if you want to give your butt muscles a little extra attention but a better choice is a cable hip extension because you’ll get the benefit of core engagement at the same time. Thanks for the message, hope this info helps and good luck on your goals.

  5. I’m 6’5 and weigh 300lbs. In my prime I was maxing around 600 in the squat. My legs were and still are huge. I was diagnosed with knee problems where my outer quads were so developed that my kneecap was being pulled to the outside and causing major problems. My physical therapist had me put a ball between my knees and squeeze as part of my recovery. I recovered, started hitting the gym again, and I noticed the inner/outer thigh machine which made me think of that exercise. I started hitting it twice a week, at the start of each leg day, not too much weight but enough to where it was taxing my muscles. Within two weeks I started noticing greater ease in the mobility in my squats, and my knees haven’t faltered since. Not recommending for everyone, but it definitely aided in development of my inner quadriceps.

  6. I once injured my back when using a seated ab machine. Put too much weight in and tweaked things a bit. Hired a personal trainer for a few sessions afterward and he showed and recommended me different ab exercises. He never once mentioned this machine and he was a knowledgeable man. Kinda validates things with me to stay away from this machine. No surprise that it is on your list.

    • Thanks for sharing your story Anthony. Great to hear you’re back in the gym pain free and healthy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *