• Jon Reid

Free Weights vs. Machines



Rage Against the Machines

When using a resistance machine you apply force to a handle that takes both you and the machine in whichever angles and directions the machine is set up to go, no matter how strange or unnatural they are. Your coordination is not required, the machine takes the role of guiding movement.


Take Control

Free weight exercises put you in charge; they require you to do the work. If you don’t balance yourself and apply force in the right direction, in the right sequence and at the right time, gravity will take you down.


Dumbbells and barbells don’t do any of the balancing or stabilising for you. In fact, they make it more difficult and force you to coordinate the movement and recruit more muscle mass.


Also, free weight exercises tend to involve more muscle groups than machines, which tend to isolate one or two muscles. Plus, machines won't do anything to help develop functional movement patterns that have real world application.


Put me on, Coach

Substitute your machine exercises for their free weight better halves. Here are a couple of easy switches…


Switch from:

Leg press to Goblet squat

Leg extension to reverse lunge.

Seated chest press to Push ups

Seated shoulder press to Barbell/dumbbell shoulder press

Seated anything to standing anything (why are you sitting down during a training session!?)

Abdominal machine to anti-motion core training


Summary

For most people, learning free weight exercises such as squats, deadlifts, presses and pulls is much more beneficial to general health and fitness than using resistance machines.


Free weight exercises have more real world application, stimulate more muscles and require your body to work as one whole unit.

Sure, resistance machines can be useful for some and they’re not all as bad as each other, but, for the majority of people, free weights are the way to go.


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