5 Secrets To Working Out Past An Exercise Machine’s Maximum Weight

Maxing out the whole stack of weights on a machine is rare, but it happens. Some machines just aren’t made with a ton of resistance, or maybe you’re just getting really strong. Either way, I wanted to give you 5 secrets to working out passed an exercise machine’s maximum weight.

1 -Switch To A Free Weight Equivalent

A lot of machines only move in one specific range of motion which means you don’t have to worry about keeping the weight stable. All you have to do is recruit enough muscles to push or pull.

Free weights require you to stabilize, use more technique, and you can also add a pretty unlimited amount of weight with barbells and dumbbells.

You can find a free weight equivalent to literally any resistance machine. I would recommend primarily using free weights in the first place.

Free Weight

2 – Pause At The Peak Contraction Point

To make each rep more difficult take a two or three second pause at the end of each concentric contraction . This is the “peak contraction point”, where your muscles are fully flexed.

Squeezing your muscles as hard as you can in a short isometric contraction will increase the amount of time that your muscles are working, creating more fatigue.

3 – Go Unilateral

Doing a unilateral lift involves only using one side of your body. Let’s say you’re using the leg press machine, but you feel like it’s too easy…..

Just switch to a unilateral leg press, which involves using one leg at a time.


4 – Exaggerate Eccentric Contractions

A typical lifting rhythm consists of a 1 second concentric contraction and a 2 or 3 second eccentric contraction, or release.

Slowing down the eccentric contraction to 5 or 10 seconds is sometimes referred to as “negatives”.

Some studies show that they promote more strength gains than a traditional contraction count. Next time you’re in the gym try a couple of these and you’ll see how fast the difficulty can go through the roof!

5 – Get Fatigued Beforehand

Do a compound set with the resistance machine. That means you’ll do two different exercises involving the same muscles in each. Typically the first exercise in the compound set is a more technically involved lift, usually with a free weight.

For example on a chest day you might go from doing a chest press with dumbbells, immediately to a chest press machine to completely burn out your muscles.

Pre Fatigued

If by any chance you get to the point where you’re able to man-handle an exercise machine and it’s still too light….simply use these 5 tips to working out passed the maximum weight. I hope you found this article informative. Please take a second to share it on facebook. Now jump in on the debate whether free weights or machines are better.

Adam Pegg About Adam Pegg

Adam is an athlete with a serious passion for fitness and health. He played basketball at University of Delaware and Stetson. His degree is in health science and he's a certified personal trainer who loves helping people reach their goals.