Should you use weight machines or free weights?

By: Laina Shulman

Author: Canadian Living


Should you use weight machines or free weights?

By: Laina Shulman

You have chosen the gym that is right for you and are suddenly faced with another decision. You know that muscle building is going to be an important part of your workouts but you are confused as to whether you should work on the weight machines or give the free weights a try. You have heard that each builds muscle differently, but are unsure as to which is better for you. It is true, both free weights and machines have many benefits. Which of them is right for you depends on your goals.

The benefits of weight machines
Machines help decrease the chance of injury. If you are new at strength training, the machines will compensate for your lack of experience. You will learn how to perform exercises correctly with the appropriate range of motion.

Machines help people learn which motions are required to work specific muscle groups. The machines isolate specific muscle groups and often have pictures and explanations on them.

Machines can speed up your workout. Changing the pin on a machine is easier than changing the plates on a barbell. (Some machines also require you to move the seat to the appropriate height.)

Machines allow you to continue your workouts even when you are injured. Machines create support for the injured area, allowing you to work other muscle groups.

Machines are easier to master and are often less intimidating. Often, only a few sessions with a trainer can get you started on a program using weight machines; however, careful instruction and training is necessary to become confident when lifting free weights.

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The benefits of free weights
Free weights allow you to coordinate many muscle groups with each exercise, improving your posture and balance. For example: When working your biceps with a machine, you strengthen only the biceps muscle. The machine will help you isolate the biceps muscle but will also support your body and your arm while you perform the exercise. However, if your biceps are done standing with free weights you are required to use many accessory muscles.

Page 1 of 2 – Discover the health benefits of working out using free weights on page 2.

Your abdominal muscles and spinal muscles help support you so that you are stable while performing the exercise, your triceps are required to keep your arm stable, etc.

The use of free weights develops "functional strength" the type of strength that is utilized in everyday life. This is because everyday motions such as taking out the garbage or doing the laundry require the coordination of many muscle groups.

• Research has shown us that free weights promote quicker strength gains because they recruit more muscle groups than machines.

Free weights are considerably less expensive than most of the machines on the market and can easily be used at home or when travelling. You can perform a complete strength training routine with a few dumbbells and a little imagination.

Novice exercisers, the elderly and people with injuries are often most comfortable using machines. If you have been exercising for some time and would like to accelerate your strength gains, begin some training with free weights.

Strength training is an important part of any exercise routine but there is no need to choose between free weights and machines – an ideal training program can incorporate both. Choose the type of strength training that suits your needs and is safe and convenient.

Consistency is the most important factor in any strength training program. With that in mind, it is much easier to decide which type of strength training is right for you. The answer is – the one you enjoy!

Page 2 of 2 – On page 1, learn about the benefits of working out on weight machines.

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Should you use weight machines or free weights?