Which is Best For You? Weight Machines Or Free Weights – The Debate

Ever since bodybuilders hit Venice Beach in California, there has been a never ending battle between the purists of weight training and those who just want to build a better mousetrap, or bodybuilder as the case may be.

What was it going to be?

Free weights?

Weight machines?

Or dare I even say it, both?

The purists of weight training would swear by free weights, your barbells, dumbbells, squat racks and scary looking torture devices.

Those looking for the next big thing would argue for machines, for bio-mechanically correct movements and giant stacks of iron weights movable by a metal pin.

Who’s right and who is wrong?

Let’s take a look at the benefits and drawback of each so that we can make an informed decision.

We’ll address Free Weights first.

Benefits of free weights:

1. With free weights, you are forced to stabilize your body for the movement.  Because of this, you get all of your stabilizing muscles activating such as your abdominals and lower back.  More muscles, more work, better results is this argument.

2. Free weights tend to be a more natural movement, similar to what you would do in real life or in sports.

3. Free weights are incredibly versatile, don’t take up much room and can be used for every single part of your body without too much extra moving around.

4. With free weights you are more flexible to work the same muscle group in many different ways without having to move from one piece to another, sometimes all it will take is a change in angle or joint position.

5. Free weights are less expensive overall.

Disadvantages of Free Weights

1. You must be constantly balancing yourself with the weights.  This can lead to added pressure on the spine or increased risk of injury if lifting overhead.  Similar to benefit #1, more muscles, more work.  This can also be a downside to free weights. multihead weigher

2. It can be hard to isolate specific muscles unless you are able to hold the single correct position for the exercise.  You need to learn and follow through with exact precision for each exercise in order to gain the most effectiveness.

3. Free weights can lose effectiveness just by the addition of momentum.  Swinging the weights, rather than lifting and lowering with your muscular strength cuts down on the effectiveness drastically.

4. There is a high rate of injury with free weights.  Between bad form, working out alone and using more weight than you’re able, you run the risk of painful and potentially long lasting injuries.

Let’s change gears and look at the benefits of Weight machines.

Benefits of Weight Machines:

1. Machines are safe and easy to use, making them a good option for beginners to cut the learning curve.

2. Machines are very precise and can help you isolate and target a very specific muscle or muscle group.  This is good when you need to strengthen or rehabilitate a specific body part.

3. Machines force you into one single movement.  There is not much room for deviation so you can be sure that you are doing the correct exercise 99% of the time.


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