In the world of fitness today theres
an issue aboutfree weights exercises versus machines.
This is about whether or not training with free weights exercises is
superior or inferior to training with weight machines (high-tech
apparatus). This old argument has in fact been going on for years.
Both sides have some merit. Its the battle of free weights versus machines
and typically one of bodybuildings longest running debates but anyone
interested in strength training itself such as a football player would like to know the
skinny on this one.
Free Weights Develop the
Stabilizer Muscles whereas Machines Dont
A stabilizer group of muscles can also be thought as
the antagonistic muscles to the ones you are working. If you are pushing
using your front deltoids, pecs and triceps, then the pulling muscles
being your biceps, lats and rear shoulders are surely helping you
stabilize during a pushing movement. It is true that the so called
opposing muscles are not recruited as much with machines because the machines
built in structural course of motion tends to take the place of the helping
stabilizer muscles. There is a higher learning curve with learning to do
an Incline Press with dumbbells to learn balance rather than learning, for
instance, a press on a Smith machine.
Free Weights are Better for Beginners for Learning
A used cheap set of barbells and dumbbells is usually
cheaper than machines. Following this argument is okay if one is only
curious about strength training and doesnt want to spend hundreds of dollars
on a machine or a gym membership after watching some
Free Weights Represent a more Real World Kind of
This argument also brings up the concept of compound
(also known as) multi-joint exercises. Compound exercises are those
in which you rely on many muscle groups to help lift a weight. You
will surely have the ability to lift more weight with a
compound exercise than when doing what is called an isolation exercise.
Although exercise movements on a machine tend to be more isolationist than with
many types of compound free weights exercises, you usually will be able to
press more on a machine press than a press using free weights. This is
because with a machine, you dont need to balance the weight and the machine is
taking the place of the stabilizer muscles.
It is harder to cheat when using machines
Each machine is featured to be used in
a specific way to isolate the muscles intended for
engagement. This argument can, however, be turned around in favor of
the compound nature of barbell exercises in which more muscles groups (motor
units) are engaged at one time. What exactly does one mean by cheat?
This argument is certainly true. You can pretty
much close your eyes and be having a conversation on world oil at the
same time thrusting away on a leg press machine. You dont need to
balance anything. If you let go, no vertical heavy
load will effectively crash down on your head or torso.
You dont hear about concussions or thorax compression injuries happening too
much when using machines because either the weights are a distance away from
you or else the machine uses bands or rods.
Offers Ease of Use
Stick a pin in a slot for your already known weight and
youre set to go. Theres no hunting around for plates when changing
to another exercise. Machines certainly cut down on the work out time
unless you have a multiple sets of barbells and dumbbells with the exact
weights for each exercise.
Machines Target Certain Areas Better
This is more of a bodybuilder
argument. As has been said before, machines tend to isolate more and not
use stabilizers as much so if you wish to improve performance in a
particular area rather than getting stronger in a movement, machines might
be better. If you care about only developing the chest and not so much
about getting a bigger bench, switching chest press machine exercises whenever
you plateau is usually the best thing than deciding a different hand grip
with dumbbell flys.
This debate has no signs of stopping. Most tests
done, if you can call them that, are based mostly on personal experience from
different coaches and trainers. Free weights appeal to old school
ways guys and machines to more gimmicky minded practitioners. It tends
to have more to do with the SAID principle (Specific Adaptation to Imposed
Demands). That is, if you practice free weight benching, then thats what
youll get good at. If you get to be good at a machine press then you
become adept at that. Oly and Power lifters will gravitate towards
the free weights in their weight lifting workouts because they are using
free weights (barbells) rather than machines in their events.
Bodybuilders will tend to prefer machines because the equipment is designed more for developing
the muscles of specific body parts and are very much compatible with different
types of circuit training. Powerlifters might possibly benefit from
machines if they used them only for assistance work. The debate of free
weights exercises versus machines will never end.