Free Weights VS Machines
So you’ve made it to the gym and you’re not sure where to start; do you go to the free weights or machines? Well like most things, there is no best fit option for everyone. Both free weights and machines are great for resistance training, if done properly.
Regardless of your current fitness experience, age or gender, incorporating strength training days to your routine is extremely to beneficial your overall health both now and for your future. In addition to maintaining a healthy body composition, strength training also protects bone health and muscle mass, helps you develop better body mechanics, plays a role in disease prevention, boosts energy levels and improves your mood. Resistance/strength training doesn’t mean you need to join a gym or have fancy equipment, it can be as simple as training at home with your own body weight. However the addition of some equipment can increase the intensity of your workouts. With that there are few things to note between training with free weights and training with machines.
Training with free weights involves the use of multiple muscles groups. This is because you’re able to move in three dimensions (forward/backward, horizontally, and vertically). This is how your body normally moves and because of this the movements are more natural. With the added weight, your body engages stabilizer muscles to steady the weight during the motion of each exercise. These weights are also versatile and inexpensive. So whether you join a gym or have a couple dumbbells at the office, you can rep out a workout in your free time. However because free weights are allow you to move freely, you have a higher risk of injury if your technique is not done properly. To help avoid injury make sure to have proper form during your exercises and have the appropriate equipment as necessary (i.e. belts, lifting straps, glove etc).
Training with machines provide for a little more safety. The structure of the machine is typically meant for a single exercise or variations of the exercise. This allows for you to focus on the muscle group you’re training. Consequently because machines are structured for the exercise they can result in your body being put in awkward positions. Its important to adjust the machines to you when possible. When using machines to train you should focus on allowing your joints to move naturally through the exercise.
In the end, it comes down to your personal preference. We like to recommend a fusion of both; starting with your free weights and then moving on to the machines. This way you get your compound movement in first and you can do more isolated burn outs after to really up the intensity of your workout.