Whether you’re new to the gym or an old pro, everybody has their preference when it comes to either using free weights or resistance machines. But the truth is that they both have their place when it comes to building muscle, depending on where you’re at with your fitness goals.
We’ve outlined the pros for each of them below.
1. Free weights allow you to use a full range of motion. This means that there is complete freedom to move around rather than being locked into a specific motion or pattern which, in turn, allows your body to do what it is naturally designed to do – move. A full range of motion also allows for a better stretch of the muscle.
2. Using free weights also activates more synergistic stabilising muscles while you train, which helps keep your joints healthy and fully operational.
3. If you’re on a time-budget and want to get as much accomplished as you can with a just a few exercises, then free-weight compound movements are the way forward. Take deadlifts for example – there isn’t a muscle in your body that doesn’t get worked out with those!
4. Machines limit you to what you can do depending on what is available. With free-weights, you can perform hundreds of exercises and all you need is a set of dumbbells. Using free-weights also allows you to hit muscles with different angles in order to work different parts of the muscle, which is important for growth.
1. Machines are incredibly easy to use and often have a picture on them to show how to use them correctly. This doesn’t only make them ideal for beginners, but also reduces the risk of injury. Starting off on machines also helps to build a good foundation of strength, which will allow you to perform more complex exercises once you move onto free weights.
2. Resistance machines allow you to isolate muscle groups more efficiently. This is beneficial to those who have a solid foundation and are looking to build muscle mass, which is the preferred method for some bodybuilders. Take the seated bench press for example – it’s a lot easier to get a good contraction when using a machine as you’re in more control.
3. If you’re fairly new to the gym and don’t yet have the form for free weights, resistance machines allow you to train heavier weights without assistance. This is also useful if you are pressing or squatting without a spotting partner.
4. Machines are ideal for anybody recovering from injury but looking to slowly get back into their training, allowing you to strengthen up quickly and safely. Also, since machines isolate the muscles, it’s easier to keep training whilst avoiding certain injuries.
To sum up, if you are just starting out on your fitness journey and want to build a strong muscle foundation before moving up to free weights, then resistance machines are probably the right choice for you. However, current fitness trends are moving away from machines and heading towards free weights for both beginners and experts alike.