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Free Weights vs. Machines: Which Is Better And Who Should Use Them?

admin 6 Jan, 2017 Tips No Comments

When you enter any commercial gym you can see a combination of free weights and machines to vary strength training exercises.

Some people use only free weights for their workout, and others go from machine to machine to get their pump, and there are also those who use a combination of both workouts to optimize their physique. It is from here that the question is created: which of the two options is better?

The Debate Over Free Weights vs. The Machines.

The debate over whether machines or free weights are better for building muscles has been a topic to discuss for decades. There was a time when machines ruled in the gym world and were the best way to go to train.

If you went to a gym, you could see that the machines were what all the guys did. Then, over time people realized that while machines are good for training in size and strength, they neglected the key that is core and stabilizing muscles.

This paved the way for “functional” fitness and people began to believe that the machines were no longer so good. So, when it comes to the question of, “Which is better?” I think it is safe to say that it depends on the person and their ultimate goals.

Basically, exercises that may be good for some people may not be for others. Let’s find out the pros and cons of weight machines vs free weights and which one may be right for you.

The Pros And Cons Of Weight Machines.

When you enter any commercial gym you can see a combination of free weights and machines to vary strength training exercises.

Some people use only free weights for their workout, and others go from machine to machine to get their pump, and there are also those who use a combination of both workouts to optimize their physique. It is from here that the question is created: which of the two options is better?

The Debate Over Free Weights vs. The Machines.

The debate over whether machines or free weights are better for building muscles has been a topic to discuss for decades. There was a time when machines ruled in the gym world and were the best way to go to train.

If you went to a gym, you could see that the machines were what all the guys did. Then, over time people realized that while machines are good for training in size and strength, they neglected the key that is core and stabilizing muscles.

This paved the way for “functional” fitness and people began to believe that the machines were no longer so good. So, when it comes to the question of, “Which is better?” I think it is safe to say that it depends on the person and their ultimate goals.

Basically, exercises that may be good for some people may not be for others. Let’s find out the pros and cons of weight machines vs free weights and which one may be right for you.

The Pros And Cons Of Weight Machines.

4 Pros.

  1. It Is Very Easy To Learn And Use.

Most machines have an image that demonstrates their use, which for most machines is quite explanatory. This makes them easy to use by themselves even to create your own circuit.

If hiring a personal trainer is out of your budget, executing the moves are easy to figure out by simply looking at the person who is in the image of the machine.

2. Isolates Muscle Groups More Efficiently.

Most of your body can be fairly stable on most machines that are able to target the larger muscle groups more efficiently. This is beneficial for those who have a solid foundation and seek to improve their physique by building larger muscles. This may be the preferred method for some types of bodybuilders.

3. Allows you to train with heavier weights without needing any help.

If you are quite inexperienced with proper technique when using free weights, it can be difficult to add resistance. Some machines will allow you to train with extra weight without risk of injury. The proper technique is paramount before you need to worry about adding weight.

4. May Be Useful For Older Populations And / Or People In Rehabilitation.

For someone who has a very low level of fitness and / or is recovering from an injury, machines can be the perfect tool to get your strength quickly and safely. Since the machines is a tool that can make it easier to work around certain injuries since many of them ensure a specific path limiting the movements to a certain extent.

4 Cons.

  1. Not Functional.

Although the machines make you bigger and stronger, they do not train complete patterns of human movement that are necessary for the overall movement of your body. Weight machines simply do not translate well into strength and fitness for daily activities.

2. Negligence Of The Smallest Stabilizing Muscles.

Because target muscle groups are isolated, important stabilizing muscle groups around the joints take less importance. If you neglect these smaller muscles for too long, you run the risk of suffering from a chronic injury and poor posture.

3. It can cause direct and indirect injury.

Although it is safer to use the machines with lower levels of weight, it is possible to increase the weight that you want, nevertheless in this way increases the probabilities of causing some serious injury. Overloading the same movement day after day is also a very easy way to prepare for an overuse injury.

4. So they are usually full of users during peak hours.

If you have ever trained in a commercial gym during peak hours you may have noticed that almost all the machines are full for that rush hour moment. While you wait for the machines to unoccupy, you lose time and your muscles cool down, stopping to train for your specific purposes.

Who Should Use Weight Machines?

The Beginners.
Anyone new to the gym and who does not know how to properly use free weights yet. Although there are guide pictures on the machines, I recommend that you ask the gym trainer for advice on the proper use of the machine.

The Bodybuilders.

When size and aesthetics is your main goal there is a lot of effectiveness in using machines to pump muscles! However, for a better and rounded physique, a combination of both, that is, of machines of weight and free weights is recommended.

For People In Rehabilitation.

Machines can be a good tool to make it easier to rehabilitate from an injury, if you do not have a physical therapist or a personal trainer to work with. Once you feel better, it may be better to move on to bodyweight exercises and take certain preventive measures.

The Pros And Cons Of Free Weights.

7 Pros.

It allows training the functional movements.

This could be a subject on its own, but basically free weights and bodyweight exercises have a greater resemblance to what you do in real life such as daily activities as well as athletics.

You can use all the range of movement.

You have complete freedom to move instead of being locked in a specific range of movement or pattern, as in the case of the use of machines. This allows your body to move in the most natural way possible.

You can place a greater demand on the stabilization of muscles.

Using free weights will activate the most synergistic stabilizing muscles while you are training. It will help keep your joints healthy and fully operational when you do it the right way!

Train Well In The Shortest Time Possible.

If you have little time to train and you want to get well trained but with few exercises, then free weights are the way to go. My two favorite exercises are the deadlifts and the Turkish get-ups. There is no muscle in your body that does not work with these two exercises alone!

Allow Endless Variation.

It allows an endless variation of exercises and movements which may be limited depending on what is available for the moment. With free weights, all you need is a dumbbell and from this you can make hundreds of different variations of exercises. One of my favorite circuits to do is the press, squatting squats, swing, etc.

You can train anywhere.

You can learn to train with free weights or with the weight of your own body which will literally enable you to train anywhere as the machines will not always be available. When you go on holiday it is easy to organize and train with some bands and a TRX to get a quality training.

It is Less Expensive.

Free weights are the best way to train if you do not have access to a gym, as they are much less expensive than machines. You can build a very easy home gym.

3 Cons.

It Takes A Certain Ability To Learn The Right Technique.

Free-weight exercises have a higher learning curve than machines and you may need someone to learn the proper technique. Having a coach or reading a book on weight training may be the way to go. Take your time and try to avoid creating bad habits by copying others that will not get you on the right track, a good way to learn is through YouTube tutorials.

Greater Risk Of Injury When Not Done Properly.

When using a bad shape or a bad technique, it is easy to move a body part or joint of the proper alignment. This can cause injuries, so it is good to make sure you know what you are doing and use the right weight.

You Need An Observer To Raise Some Heavy Weight On The Squat Or Bench Press Exercises.

Some exercises are difficult to improve if you do not have a training partner or you can also slow down the progress of your workout. There is really nothing wrong with asking for help. I guarantee you a little relief from the work in your training.

Who Should Use Free Weights?

A Limited Group Of People As Long As The Technique Is Not Dominated.

Almost anyone can benefit from using free weights properly to build a strong and lean body using a good program. To add extra weight is best that the technique has well dominated, otherwise it is very easy to suffer any injury. It is best to start with your own body weight or with as little weight as possible. Free weights are very important to build functional and muscular strength and to stay active constantly.

For Athletes.

To compete at high levels and remain injury free, the bodies of the athletes have to move synergistically and the best way to accomplish this is to train with free weights. A combination of free weights and body weight exercises is a good way to go!

For The Bodybuilders.

The best way to get bigger is to get more strength and the best way to get stronger is with free weights. Once you accumulate your strength, you can add the execution of exercises on some weight machines to isolate and build specific muscle groups.

For People In Rehabilitation.

Free weights can accelerate the rehabilitation process by adding functional movements to get the muscles to move and feel better. They can also help you get back much faster to the condition you were in before your injury, compared to when you use exercise machines.

Free Weights Vs. Machines: Recommendations

For strength training programs, it is preferable to use primarily free-weight exercises which focus primarily on compound movements and total body strength. From time to time, however, it is good to do some biceps exercises on a machine or use the row machine to vary the workout a bit.

 

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