🏋️‍♂️ 7 worst machines at your gym

Today’s BarBend Newsletter is presented by CoachRx. If you want to design a better training program, check out CoachRx’s free 14-day trial to learn how to coach like the pros.

Here’s what we’re talking about today:

  • The worst exercise machines at your gym.

  • Mal O’Brien is out for the 2023 CrossFit season.

  • 7 old-school feats of strength that still impress.

Exercise Tips

Worst of the Worst

GIF: @My4 on Giphy

Workout machines are great. They’re comfortable, beginner-friendly, and you can generally find one in most gyms for just about any exercise under the sun. Does that mean they’re without weakness, or that every workout machine in your gym is worth your time? No way.

Plain and simple, some exercise machines are more useful as a place to rest your smartphone than a tool to grow muscle or get stronger. Other machines make lifting too easy, reinforce bad habits, or are just flat-out badly designed.

If your workouts consist of a lot of machine-based exercises, it may be time to reject modernity and embrace tradition. These are seven exercise machines you might want to consider cutting out, plus how to replace them with something better.

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A Shakeup at the Top

Image: @malobrien_ on Instagram

The race for the title of Fittest Woman on Earth® has once again blown open. On May 16, Mal O’Brien announced on Instagram that she won’t compete in the 2023 Semifinals. Without a chance to qualify for the 2023 CrossFit Games, this brings the 19-year-old’s 2023 CrossFit season to a close.

“Sometimes, we face personal challenges that demand our attention and care,” O’Brien wrote. “It’s important to prioritize our well-being and embrace the support of loved ones.”

The 2022 CrossFit Games runner-up went on to say: “Remember, life isn’t just about winning trophies or achieving goals — it’s about finding balance, taking care of ourselves, and cherishing the moments that truly matter.”

You can read more below:


Old-School Strength

Image: Library of Congress / Wikimedia Commons

In a time before powerlifting meets, organized weightlifting competitions, and bodybuilding shows, strength athletes often showcased their talents at circuses and in vaudeville acts. Strength was more spectacle than sport at the time, so athletes needed to be as entertaining as they were physically impressive.

Performers like Eugen Sandow and Arthur Saxon are typically cited as the most well-known of these spellbinding showmen of strength from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. However, countless others pulled off feats that still befuddle fitness historians to this day.

From a 253-pound one-handed snatch to a (frankly) unbelievable 445-pound barrel lift, the feats below are among the most notable.

Everything Else

Coach’s Corner

  • Adam Neiffer — perhaps best known today as the coach of two-time reigning Fittest Man on Earth® Justin Medeiros — recently joined the BarBend Podcast to talk about the challenges that come with training the top athletes in the sport.

  • Just weeks after winning his first World’s Strongest Man contest, Mitchell Hooper is repping out 440 pounds on the overhead press.

  • Tom Hogan recently claimed victory at the 2023 HYROX Hong Kong race. Head here for the full results.