So, the big question, what is better – free weights or exercise machines? It is an interesting question and one that almost every gym-goer asks at some point in their career. In this post I am going to show you why I believe free weights to be a whole lot better than exercise machines.
- Free weights:
Any weight lifting device that you can lift and move freely. The main examples are dumbbells and barbells.
- Exercise machines:
Any weight lifting device that has a fixed use. For example, overhead press machines, ab crunch machines, etc.
Exercise machines – some advantages
Before I get into the reasons why free weights are better I want to give you a couple of reasons why exercise machines should still play a big role in your workout.
They are safer
The main advantage of exercise machines is that they are safe. These machines are designed to use your body in a certain fashion and as such there is a lot less room for injury. For example, when you use a rowing machine your back is positioned nicely and the puller only moves in one fixed direction. This means you will have to work pretty hard to pull a back muscle.
They teach you technique
Another major advantage of the exercise machine which is closely related to the first one is the fact that they teach you how to do exercises in the proper fashion. As the machine is built for one particular movement only it is a lot easier to learn how to do that movement.
Why free weights are better
If you are trying to lose weight, get fit or sculpt some part of your body you will be much better off using free weights. And I am not the only one who says this; fitness trainers and bodybuilders from around the world all agree that free weights are better for you.
The reason is simple. When you use free weights you get an increased range of motion. This range of motion means that you will be working more muscles at once and as such you will get a more intense workout.
Take the bench press as an example. When you push a barbell above your chest you need to use lots of stabilizer muscles in order to keep the weight in the right position.
When you are on the exercise machine you don’t get this effect as the machine holds the weight for you. These stabilizer muscles are extremely important for your posture and muscular health.
As a general rule you can say that the bigger the range of motion the better the exercise. Exercise machines, unfortunately, do not provide this range of motion and as such we need to set them aside and choose a good free weights exercise instead.
Free weights can be dangerous
Of course, there is always a down side. Free weights can be dangerous if you don’t use them correctly. It is vital that you learn the proper technique before using heavy free weights to avoid any injuries.
When it comes to weight lifting the most important thing is technique. Always. If your technique is correct and nicely performed you will have good results. If it is incorrect you will get bad results and even worse injuries.
Once you have learned the correct way to use them you should always pick free weights over gym machines. You get a better range of motion and utilize many different muscles at once. This is good for the progress of your muscles and the overall health of your body.