Sunday, February 05, 2006

Machines or Free Weights?

You're ready for the gym, and either you're new to strength training, or it's been some time since you've tackled any weights. It's easy to just sit down in a comfortable machine, but are you getting the best workout for the time you can devote to your fitness? Here are some pros and cons about using machines versus free weights.

Machines - Pro
If you're low on time, using machines can be an efficient way to get in a workout. Putting a pin into the weight stack is quicker than loading up a barbell, plus the arrangement of machines in a gym facilitates changing exercises efficiently.
If you're new to the gym, and without a trainer, machines are a safe way to go. Most machines have diagrams to help you with proper lifting form.
If you have injuries, machines will help stabilize your body. With the extra support, you can focus on healthy muscles, and give the injuries time to heal.
If you want to lift heavy weights without assistance, machines will help. The security of the machine allows you to lift more, without fear of dropping weights.
If you want to train one specific muscle group, machines aid in focus. It is difficult to do certain exercises (like a leg curl) with free weights, and a machine will hone right in on your desired goal.

Machines - Con
Machines let you cruise through an exercise without bringing in stabilizing muscles. You don't get true strength that relates to the movement in your daily life.
Machines don't fit all bodies. If you are very small or very tall, the machines may not fit your size, and the exercise won't be mechanically efficient, leading to frustration or injury.
Machines don't give you much variation. Most machines create a forced or guided two-dimensional movement pattern, so you are limited in how your muscles develop.
Machines get boring! The same old same old: not only do your muscles get bored, so does your brain. Loss of motivation can lead you to dropping out of your fitness program.
Machines get filled if the gym is busy.
Your time is valuable. Standing around, waiting for someone to get off the machine that you want, is a hassle and a turn-off when you want to get in shape.

Free Weights- Pro
free weight equipment Get more bang for your buck with barbells and dumbells. There are so many more exercises that you can do with free weights, at home or at the gym, than with big, expensive machines.
You can fit the exercise to your body. Since there are no range of motion inhibitors, almost anyone can use free weights.
Motor skills are enhanced. With free weights, more demands are made on your muscles to stabilize and balance your body and the weight, giving you more work completed per exercise, getting you fitter, faster.

Keep your interest up. Every workout with free weights can be different. Changing the angle of movement or rotation at a joint will challenge your body and brain.
You can exercise anywhere. Once you get accustomed to free weights, you can go into any gym and feel comfortable. Plus, you can design your own home gym easily and inexpensively.

Free Weights- Con
You'll need to get advice to help you get the right workout program design. Hiring a trainer or researching the best exercises for you must come first.
Proper form is paramount. Again, hiring a trainer will get you started out right, before you get into bad habits.
Imbalances in the body are heightened. You will have to concentrate to keep your body aligned, and add some balancing work.
Greater chance of getting injured. If you don't know what you're doing, free weights can hurt you faster than get you fit.
You'll need a lifting partner if you plan on pumping heavy iron. Get a partner or trainer to help check your form: it's easy to get sloppy, even when you know what to do. For example, don't try a heavy weight in the squat or bench press without a "spotter". Make sure that you can control the weight and do the exercise in perfect position.

All in all, a combination of machines and free weights in your program is the best. For optimal use of your time, plan your workouts according to what you need. Do you want general strength or sports performance? What is more important to you, better balance or bigger muscles? Get advice from a professional, and stay motivated with a variety of exercises.


At 9:41 PM, Blogger Natural Exercise Tips said...

its really good for who want to loss their weight by the machines. Please post some more machines which can help us for loss weight.


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