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"Free Weights vs Machines" by Mary Margaret Tan

Many #beginners and #novice lifters usually go straight to machines upon first stepping into a gym in order to “condition” themselves both #physically and #mentally for the weight room. Unfortunately, many of them never become accustomed to going to the free weight section so they just stick to machinery all day every time they go to the #gym out of #intimidation or, in #females, the fear of getting “bulky.” The question is, which one of the two is better overall in building muscle and strength? Well, this showdown will precisely conclude the #winner!

First of all, what are free weights and machines? Free weights include basically anything that can be picked up and held freely, such as #dumbbells and #barbells, even #kettlebells. Machines are anything that has a pulley and an adjustable weight and usually only allow one specific range of motion (i.e. leg extensions, leg press etc).  Both allow the exerciser to build strength and mass in the muscles that are being worked; however, there are indeed substantial benefits in working with free weights over machines.


FREE WEIGHT BENEFITS:

1) More #core #stability since you need to be able to activate your core when holding a free weight, whether in front of you or above your head.

2) Way more muscle #activation, which leads to better #coordination, and central nervous system efficiency (overall strength gains are better) like during barbell squats, you are utilizing over 250 muscles in the body, even the tiniest of muscles you may not know are being worked.

Free Weights - 2

Machines - 0


More core #training and #muscle activation from working with free weights does not mean that machines are bad or that you should leave them entirely out of your workout regimen.


MACHINE BENEFITS:

1) They are way easier and #safer to learn.

2) They allow for more #isolation exercises, especially if you're supporting muscles become #fatigued from doing those big compound lifts.  

For instance, you burned out your lower body from #deadlifting and you want to do more #exercises that specifically #isolate your hamstrings, yet your glutes, quads, and core are exhausted from having to stabilize your body during that whole movement.  The leg curl machine is perfect for isolating your #hamstrings and training them to #failure while allowing the remainder of your #body to rest.

Free Weights - 2

Machines - 2

After all these observations, which one is the winner? Both are great for putting on mass and gaining #strength and both have their own pros and cons, but free weights do have a slight #advantage over machines due to more muscles being worked in a shorter amount of time and better strength gains in the long run. However, there is no right or wrong decision. It is all about deciding the best tools that best #fit your own #goals. The wisest choice is not to entirely cut out free weights or forget machines either, but to combine them. Use free weights to better activate those core muscles and develop coordination and then use machines for those hard-to-isolate muscles and as #finishers for your workout #regimen. With that being said, go do some lifting!


Do something today that your future self will thank you for!


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Est. 2014 In Home Fitness Trainers