Day: January 9, 2012

One of the biggest questions gym goers ask themselves: “Do I use machines or free weights?”

Now that the holidays are over and the New Year has begun everyone is starting to come crawling out of hibernation. The gym is usually where they will end up shaving off some of the reserves that weren’t necessarily needed all winter. One of the biggest question new gym rats (or returning gym rats) ask themselves is “Do I use machines or free weights?” It is a great question that has been debated back and forth for years in the fitness community. Below lists some pro’s and con’s in regards to machine based training and free weights to help you make your own educated decision.

Machines:
Pro’s
1. The machines will set the body in the correct position for target specific muscle groups.
2. They are easily adjustable. The weight can be changed without the difficulty meaning you can push your limit safely.
3. Usually set up in a total body circuit which is easy to understand.
4. Several machines have multiple uses (pec deck for rear delts, leg press for calf raises).

Con’s
1. Limited range of motion.
2. Not each body type is the same and some machines don’t allow adjustments of each piece.
3. Unrealistic movements that do not translate to real life.
4. Targets prime movers and do not recruit stabilizers or core muscles which are needed in day to day activities.

Free Weights:
Pro’s

  1. Greater range of motion
  2. Stabilizer muscles are recruited throughout the exercise.
  3. More core muscle engagement since you will not have the support from the machine.
  4. Broader selection of exercises to perform which are more realistic and prepare the body for everyday activity.

Con’s

  1. Education is required to perform the exercises correctly. If performed incorrectly there is a greater chance that you will be injured.
  2. Spotting is often required.
  3. More inconvenient to change or adjust your weight. Must put weight back and select new weight.
  4. Must decide which exercise to do next instead of following a circuit.

Both the machines and free weights offer great advantages to building strength, endurance, and flexibly. The happy medium between the two would be the Free Motion Cable Machine. You get the benefit of having to stabilize your body using your core while having the ease of changing the weight that you get from machine based exercises. It is important to make smart decision prior to exercising to avoid injuring yourself. Always consult a personal trainer before starting a new routine to find out what is best for your body type and athletic ability!