So whats better?
Free weights or machines ??
Great question. Well there is not a straight forward answer. Again like I always say IT DEPENDS!
The Pro’s of weight machines:
- Built in spotter: When using a weight machine you somewhat have a built in spotter, less risk in dropping the weight and hurting yourself. Of course you can get hurt on any machine if you are not doing it properly with the appropriate weight for you.
- Isolation for injuries: Machines will keep your body in the correct form unlike free weights and keep the movement more isolated and stable. This is great if your mending an injury or just getting started and are unsure of form, again as long as your following instructions for the machines purpose and movement.
- More weight variations. Most machines especially selectorize weighted machines will allow you to usually have more options in weight in most gyms compared to dumbells or barbells. You have the freedom to bump up or down in very small increments.
The Cons of weight machines:
- They can be very expensive.
- They take up a lot of room.
- They are heavy and hard to move.
- You will need several different machines to get a full body work out!
The Pros of free weights:
- Core strengthening: Whether you are working your legs, shoulders, triceps etc you will always be working your core. It is important to stablalize your entire body holding your core tight, keeping a strong base. When you do this with each movement you’ll be getting a core workout as well. Double Wammy! Love that.
- Unlimited exercises can be performed: It is crazy how many exercises you can perform with just a set of free weights. You can add dumbbells to any movement to make it more challenging.
- Very affordable: Weights usually run $1 per pound. Its not cheap but its much more affordable then buying weight machines. You can usually get alot done by owning 4 to 5 sets of dumbbells.
- Full range of motion: With free weights you can perform exercises in a full range of motion ( but you always want to be sure not to over extend or hyperextend movements, so control is key!)
- They allow movements very close to those of sport activities for athletes.
The Cons of free weights:
- Good form is crucial to prevent injury. If you perform exerices to heavy or even too light with bad form you can get hurt.
- No spot. It may be hard to attempt those last few reps safely if you dont have a spotter.
- It takes longer to figure out the perfect weight and increments may be too big for small muscles (for example lateral shoulder raises: to go from 25 to 30 lbs it is a big jump)
So it all depends on what your trying to accomplish, your form and level of weight training. For beginners I would reommend starting out with weight machines. Once you feel sure of the movements go ahead and try free weights. Start light and make sure your form is correct before adding more weight! Once you’ve got it down you’ll notice the benefits of the core workout while performing free weight exercises. To be safe if your lifting heavy with no spot, stick with the machine!
I love free weights to constantly challenge by core! Machines of my choice are unilateral machines that allow you to work each side independently!
Hope that was helpful!
If you have a specifi topic you want covered just comment!
Keeping you fit,
Coach Kelly Barbera