I’m going to get a bit more serious with this one, so strap in and focus your eyes!
We live in an age where going to the gym is now quite a comfortable experience. Your PT might get you to sit down on a bike to warm up, then sit you on the leg press, the leg extension, etc. That's a lot of sitting down on padded machines doing complicated programs, that really don't really do much other than get you hot and sweaty unless they are applied CORRECTLY.
What is the Meaning of "Sacrifice You're Comfortability"?
It means you can cut all the fluff of the programs by doing basic barbell exercises. They are called basic because that's what they are. Easy to learn, but get harder to execute.
Which is exactly what we want. This is progressive overload.
In theory a barbell back squat is easy. Place the bar on the meaty part of your posterior shoulders, sit your butt back, shove your knees out, shoot your butt out of the hole and stand up.
Same for the deadlift, bench press, and overhead press. Pick the bar up off the floor for the deadlift. Bring the bar down to your chest and press it back up over your shoulders for bench press, and press the bar over your head for the press.
Obviously, these have been broken down to their basic forms, but a proper coach should teach you the details of these lifts so you can perform them correctly. If there are any issues, the coach should correct them with cues on the fly.
Full body weighted movements have been proven time and time again that burn the fat and get the biggest bang for your buck for muscle growth.
So why do I keep seeing PTs prescribing their clients to these machines? Making their workouts complicated.
Unfortunately, they probably don't know any better. My Level 3 PT training showed the big 4 movements, but never went into greater detail. It focused more on the machine based exercises, plyo boxes and fluff and pump that I didn't care about. Other PT's have gone through similar courses, learning what it takes to be another cog in the machine of the big box gym. They get you sweaty and give you a little pump but don't explain why you're doing the movement. Then tell you to come again for the next session to do something different.
Where is the Evidence?
I watched this video with the renowned expert on fitness and sports nutrition, Brad Schoenfeld, say beginners in the gym should be performing the same movements in the gym for about 3-4 months to not only maximize their newbie gains but also to ingrain the proper movement patterns. This is why get beginners comfortable under the bar as soon as possible. When you're under the bar, with weight on your back, you won't be worrying whether it's uncomfortable. You'll be thinking about finishing the next rep.
I listened to an audio snippet of a PT stating that some people will just never like being under the bar, because of how uncomfortable it feels on your traps and shoulders. Your PT should coach you in the right position to support the bar being in the high bar position. Or suggest moving to the low bar position. There is also the safety squat bar too. I would never use the shoulder pad as again, it's another comfortabilty tool.
Get Comfortable with Uncomfortabilty
The only way you're going to do this is by getting off these machines, questioning if your PT actually knows what they're talking about, and trying it out for yourself.
Starting out with barbells can seem pretty daunting, but by starting with 20kg on your back you can experience what it's like.
If you're absolutely fine with all this, by all means, continue to enjoy your process. But just know that you're missing out of the benefit of full body exercises that will strengthen your entire body and mind.
If this bothers you, then find yourself a coach. Start searching for the popular weightlifters in the industry, the follow their friends. Watch their videos. Use your judgment to find out who is bad and who is not.
This post was inspired by Good vs. Bad Trainers By Mark Rippetoe