Commercial gym equipment for serious weight training!
Single station gym equipment refers to machines that are designed and built specifically for one exercise or body part. In large commercial gyms, you will see these machines in the weight rooms. The single station machines will be often arranged according to the muscle group they are targeting and/or by their resistance method.
Single Stations: Select a Category
Isolate Those Muscle Groups
Typically single station machines are grouped by the bodypart they are targeting. For example leg machines will include leg presses, leg extensions, hack squats, lying leg curls, calf machines etc. In a gym environment, these machines will be grouped together so you can move between machines easily during your leg workout. Gyms will have multiples of specific machines depending on how popular that specific exercise is amongst the member.
Staying with the leg muscle group, the leg press is a very popular machine. So gyms will need to have more of these machines as opposed to a seated calf raise. Unfortunately for the gym owner the leg press machine is expensive!
Cable Machine w/ Weight Stack
The other way single station gym equipment can be classified is by resistance type – how the resistance is applied to the exercise. Probably the most common type in a gym is having a cable attached to a weight stack. This is when you use a pin to select the weight that you would like to lift.
Gym Gear that's Easy to Use
Some people have a strong preference for cable machines with weight stacks. These machines are easy to train on – just pop the pin into the weight you want to lift and away you go. There is no lugging heavy weight plates around they gym and loading onto machines – for some this harder than the workout itself.
Plus many people love doing drop sets. Drop sets are when you complete your set until failure, then take off a little weight and squeeze out a few more reps. This is dead easy on a cable machine, even more so on certain exercises like cable crossovers where there are two weight stacks.
Single Stations - The Downsides
Cable machines often have the cables running through complicated paths of pulleys. This not only results in a mechanical advantage (makes the weight lighter), but it also means the resistance can vary during different parts of the exercise. The convenience also comes at a cost, as cable machines with weight stacks are generally more expensive to buy.
Plate Loaded Leverage Machines
Growing in popularity are plate loaded machines. These let you put weight plates on the "weight horns" which provide the resistance. Generally they use lever arms to replicate the movement of the exercise. In the case of a leg press or hack squat machine, weight plates are loaded on to the weight horns of the carriage which slide up and down on guide rails.
Simple, No Fuss Workouts
Leverage machines are a lot simpler. The weight plates are loaded on the end of a lever arm, which pivots on a bearing. This makes the resistance very smooth and direct. The lever is pushed or pulled in the path of an arc. This mimics the arc that your body follows on many exercises, giving it a similar feel to the equivalent dumbbell or barbell exercise.
One of the big advantages leverage machines have over their cable machine brethren is that they are far more affordable. You should remember though that you will need to load and unload the weight plates after each exercise.
Are their any Drawbacks?
In commercial gyms this is the cause of much anguish and frustration as inconsiderate gym-goers keep machines fully loaded after their final set. We find that most home gym owners have no problem with this at all, in fact some even think it's a good way to burn 30 seconds between exercises.