Often the machines in the gym use only one joint, moving in one direction, and not in the full range of motion. These machines are great for targeting muscles that you need to strengthen due to an imbalance, BUT could create an imbalance where one doesn't exist!
One example of this is the knee extension machine. How often in your life, work or sport do you sit down and kick your leg out with weight? I know I never have! This exercise puts the knee in a vulnerable position if you have had a previous injury, and strengthens ONLY the quad muscle (and not even all four parts!). This is great if you also partner it with a hamstring curl machine, total hip machine for the hip flexors and the glutes, and a back extension machine for the posterior chain... which takes a long time.
A better option would be to complete large multi-joint and multi-muscle exercises in a load bearing position. A squat for instance targets the quads, glutes, hamstrings, adductors (inner thigh) and the core all in one movement! It also prepares you for any form of loaded activity in sport or life.
If you're looking for ways to make your gym workout more function, and prepare you for sport performance and injury performance, ask your Athletic Therapist for tips! Our exercise programs are designed for total body balance, increased sport specific performance and can be modified for any previous or potential injuries!