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Sweat Equity: Free Weights or Machines?

Free weights or machines? Whether you’re trying to lose weight or bulk up, the answer may surprise you. Free weights or machines? Whether you’re trying to lose weight or bulk up, the answer may surprise you.

Free weights or machines—which is better for resistance training?& Is it better to have the free flowing motion of free weights or the rigid, fixed action of machines?& The correct answer does not entail a choice between the two at all.

The muscles grow somewhat immune to the same movements and progress slows over time. The more we shock and surprise our muscles, the more they respond.

Variety is indeed the spice of life when it comes to training equipment. In fact, if one could hypothetically train on different equipment every workout, the muscle tone and development would be phenomenal. Inverse to this, training on the same gear all the time, doing the same movements, day in day out promotes stagnancy. The muscles grow somewhat immune to the same movements and progress slows over time.& The more we shock and surprise our muscles, the more they respond.

&It’s all about fibre recruitment. The more varied the ways we attack each muscle group, the more balanced and toned our physique will be. Each muscle has an upper, lower, and medial head. And the “action” and angle of different& kinds of training movements will hit the muscle heads differently each time.

A machine bench press for example is going to target and recruit different fibre than a barbell bench press, even though they both primarily target the medial chest. The barbell bench is going to activate stabilizer muscles as the lifting arch conforms to a natural trajectory dictated by the individual’s physiology and lifting execution. A machine bench press, which has a fixed trajectory, will force your body to conform to ITS action and the appropriate muscles will be stimulated more actively. For this reason, if you are just beginning a regimen that includes machines, avoid injury by decreasing the amount of weight you use in the beginning.

I like to mix free weights and machine exercises in the same workout, alternating between one and the other on various exercises, but never doing the same exercise movement on both in the same workout. I might do free squats, for example, on one leg day, and on the next do Smith Machine squats. I might do cable machine curls on one arm day and barbell curls the next arm day, and so on.

Doing the same exercises on both free weights and machines in the same workout does not maximize results because you are targeting the same pathways to begin with, so the overall advantage is diminished. But if you alternate by doing, say, free weights on one exercise for a certain body part, and then a machine exercise for the next movement for that same body part, and continue to alternate this way, you maximize your efforts over time. This is because you are constantly alternating between one and the other on each muscle group.

Always combine free weights and machines in your workout regimen, preferably in alternate exercises. This variety will give you a well-rounded physique and superior muscle tone and development.

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Make sure you know what you’re doing when you lift weights.
Last modified on Friday, 31 August 2012 17:41

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