FREE WEIGHTS OR MACHINES

#1
I regularly do a four week endurance programme based on morning run and evening gym session. The gym work includes alternate days upper body and legs. In my local gym, they have a reasonable selection of free weights and machines, and it´s not too busy so you can do rapid circuits without being held up by iron pumping posers. However, I have always been told that free weights are better for you than machines, but if you´re doing circuits, you can´t always keep your weight set up reserved for 30 mins, and you can´t always get someone to spot for you. So I usually end up using the the shoulder press machine and bench press machine for those exercises, the rest being floor exercises or bicep curls with dumb bells. My question is, which is best for you, free weights or machines?
 
#2
Look to the exercises you can do without a spotter and include them because free weights are much more beneficial. If you've not got a spotter and want to see improvement try, for example, 12 reps machine bench press then 12 reps slow press ups, repeat until you feel the benefit.

Good luck.
 
#3
Free weights but keep good form. Get some core stability in there as well,.

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.
 
#5
Free weights - works your core / support muscles as well as not limiting you to a set plane of movement like the machines, better training for "functional" physical fitness. Alot of machines also subsidise part of the effort needed to do the particular exercise (bit like treadmills, some would argue)
 
#6
Silly question, but if you're doing endurance exercises why do you need a spotter? Surely you're exercising with a less-than-max weight so as to be able to keep the reps up?
 
#7
smartascarrots said:
Silly question, but if you're doing endurance exercises why do you need a spotter? Surely you're exercising with a less-than-max weight so as to be able to keep the reps up?
Absolutely right, but during the high rep circuits, I don´t feel safe on the bench when I´m at maximum effort.
 
#8
I have virtually binned weights altogether out of my training after a bad back injury last year. I now stick to mainly bodyweight exercises such as chins, dips, press ups etc I also use kettlebells with which you can do a whole host of exercises. Since ive been training like this, I have had no further back pain and I think I look and feel a lot better for it. The kettlebells really strengthen your core and you can do high-rep exercises with them that are good CV workouts. Most of the routines I do now are based on crossfit - which is well worth a google.
 
#9
Its horses for courses and all down to what you want to achieve.....

Variable resistance machines work the target muscle in isolation, without the assistance of the surrounding muscles - but still have to put the effort in.

Free weights allow you not only to target a particular muscle group but also to engage other muscles that assist in the work, however its easy to cheat with free weights allowing other muscles to compensate for the exercise, you've got to maintain form.

Lifting free weights improves your co-ordination by improving the neuromuscular pathways that connect your muscles to the central nervous system. - I read that somewhere once?!
 
#10
mr.fawlty said:
If you have the choice, free weights. Even Arnold recommends this in his book.
....... and Arnie also talked alot of shit. If you want a decent book that has stood the test of time then buy 'Brawn' by stuart McRobert.

Free weights are the way to go though resistance machines do have their place.
 
#11
Cait said:
Its horses for courses and all down to what you want to achieve.....

Variable resistance machines work the target muscle in isolation, without the assistance of the surrounding muscles - but still have to put the effort in.

Free weights allow you not only to target a particular muscle group but also to engage other muscles that assist in the work, however its easy to cheat with free weights allowing other muscles to compensate for the exercise, you've got to maintain form.

Lifting free weights improves your co-ordination by improving the neuromuscular pathways that connect your muscles to the central nervous system. - I read that somewhere once?!
This is really what I wanted to see, the pros and cons of each. Thanks to all for your replies.
 
#12
Free weights build greater strength and balance. Machines are quicker and safer.

In practice, most people combine the two. I use Free Weights for the major compound exercises such as Bench and Squat, Machines for isolation exercises.
 
#13
plus side of free weights is when curling you have to control all the movement like some of the fellas say it strengthens your core where as the machine controls the movement for you
 
#14
Free weights are for winners. Oftem with machines you can for example bench 120KG but when it comes down to it on the free weights you can only realy bench 100Kg when all the supporter muscles come in to play. That scenario is an example only. Machines have their place though.

Dave
 
#15
Pros of free weights are that the work way more muscles as has been said stabalisers etc.

Downside however is that if you dont know what you are doing you can realy hurt yourself doing deadlift or dropping a barbell on your face for example.

If you just want to strengthen up and are not very experienced in the gym then I would recommend you stick to machines unless you have someone in the know to show you how to do it right.

J.
 
#16
JayCam said:
Pros of free weights are that the work way more muscles as has been said stabalisers etc.

Downside however is that if you dont know what you are doing you can realy hurt yourself doing deadlift or dropping a barbell on your face for example.

If you just want to strengthen up and are not very experienced in the gym then I would recommend you stick to machines unless you have someone in the know to show you how to do it right.

J.
Only exercise that really needs a spotter is bp and even then you can work pressing with over head press very effectively (to the point where you shouldn't do p :twisted: )
 
#17
Ian1983 said:
Only exercise that really needs a spotter is bp and even then you can work pressing with over head press very effectively (to the point where you shouldn't do p :twisted: )
I wasn't talking about using a spotter though, I was refering to all those idiots you see who think that a lifting belt means they can deadlift 150kg with poor technique without wrecking their spinal cord.

Point was that incorrect lifting is a fast route to injury.

J.
 
#18
I've always made use of free weights, for all the benefits mentioned above. Control is the watchword.

The only exercise that springs to mind is the bench press as problematic without a spotter, and there are plenty of alternatives. Most gyms have a Smith machine bench press, which could be a good compromise.

If you'd like to read about weight training and the like, I can reccomend 'The Complete Guide to Strength Training' by A. Bean. It's got a good section on this. Up to date, well informed, plenty of information. Best off all, no bullshit whatsoever. Available at your local Waterstone's or Amazon.
 
#19
JayCam said:
Ian1983 said:
Only exercise that really needs a spotter is bp and even then you can work pressing with over head press very effectively (to the point where you shouldn't do p :twisted: )
I wasn't talking about using a spotter though, I was refering to all those idiots you see who think that a lifting belt means they can deadlift 150kg with poor technique without wrecking their spinal cord.

Point was that incorrect lifting is a fast route to injury.

J.
Sorry mate


The funny thing I always see at the uni gym where I go to is people curling 10kg with a lifting belt on (the same with benching 30kg with a belt on...always makes me laugh)
 
#20
Ian1983 said:
The funny thing I always see at the uni gym where I go to is people curling 10kg with a lifting belt on (the same with benching 30kg with a belt on...always makes me laugh)
Haha agreed. That sh*t always makes my day lol. Also people who strap like 60kg to themselves and waddle over to the pull up bar like He Man and fail to even get on the bar.

J.
 

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