Free Weights or Machines What’s the Best Choice?

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Intense workouts

 

This is a very old question that has strong supporters on both sides of the fence.

Do you use free weights or do you use a weight machine?

What one will give you the best results? How do I decide what one is best for me?

Actually, while supporters don’t usually acknowledge any disadvantages, both methods have both pros and cons to weightlifting.

The real issue is to figure out which if any of the methods will work best for you, basically your specific needs and individual goals.

Just about every gym now days has a section of resistance machines and free weights. And on each side of the room are strong advocates of the system they use.

But these people also have different goals and are at different levels of their fitness program.

Each method has it’s own pros and cons and only you can determine which is best for your program.

MACHINES

Pros

Can isolate one muscle or muscle group
Can be used without a spotter
Can be used without worrying too much about form
Really good for physical rehabilitation
Great for beginners and to get accustomed to lifting
Reduces stress on the spine and doesn’t require spinal stability
Better suited for circuit training

Cons

Usually have to go to a gym to use them
If you are shorter or taller than most people it can be difficult to fit the machine to your size
Fixed movement of the machine reduces the work of stabilizing muscles
Can increase risk of overuse injuries
FREE WEIGHTS

Pros

Can perform more movement patterns and less restrictive than a machine
Less expensive and don’t need a gym
Use more than one muscle group
Very versatile; allows the athlete to move through a variation of movement
Cons

They can be intimadating for beginners
You must use correct technique and form or risk injury
Must lift with a spotter when lifting heavier weights
It is very difficult to isolate one muscle group for rehabilitation
You can rely on momentum of the weight which reduces the benefits and increases risk of injury

Before deciding whether or not to write off free weights or machines, you may want to incorporate both into your program to get the best of both worlds and play the pros of one against the disadvantages of the other.

“The ultimate goal is to improve your own lean muscle mass and increase your strength.”

Don’t get caught into believing that one is better than the other in all circumstances.

Try using both!

 

RESOURCES:

SteadyStrength: Is it Better to use machines or free weights

Is It Better To Use Machines or Free Weights?

MuscleMag: 5 Machines that are better muscle-builders than free weights
http://www.musclemag.com/muscle-building/5-machines-that-are-better-muscle-builders-than-free-weights/#.UycpYPldWSo

ACE Fitness: When strength training, is it better to use machines or free weight
http://www.acefitness.org/acefit/healthy-living-article/60/68/when-strength-training-is-it-better-to-use/

Bet Contreras: free weights or machines

Machines vs. Free Weights: More Research is Needed

Military: Should I use free weights or machines
http://www.military.com/military-fitness/weight-training/should-i-use-free-weights-or-machines

Universit of Illinois: Free Weight Vs Resistance Machines
http://www.mckinley.illinois.edu/handouts/free_weights.html

MayoClinic: For weight training, is it better to use free weights or machine weights
http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/fitness/expert-answers/weight-training/faq-20058479

Active: Strength Training: Free weights or machines
http://www.active.com/fitness/articles/strength-training-free-weights-or-machines

BuiltLean: Free weight vs machines

Free Weights vs. Machines: Which Is Better?

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