Free Weights vs. Machines: Which One Is Better?
We are replaying one of our most popular episodes for you this week!
Amy and Brian settle the age-old debate of which one is better: free weights or machines? Learn about some common misconceptions about machines that prevent people from getting the fitness results they want in the timeframe they want, and why free weights can lead to reduced strength gains and a higher risk of injury.
- Spoiler alert: You’re not going to find any free weights at any of the Exercise Coach locations and for good reason.
- There is a significant strength training advantage to using machines over free weights and it has to do with the purpose of exercise.
- The results we want from exercise are muscle and neurological adaptations, and that happens when we expose the body to the right type of muscle loading for the right length of time. You can get those results from free weights, but they come with tradeoffs, whereas machines minimize what you need to learn so you can focus on what matters most.
- Your body doesn’t know or care if you’re lifting a dumbbell, or you’re working on a weight machine, or an isokinetic high tech strength machine, lifting a bag of dirt, or bodyweight exercises. It all has to do with muscle activation and fatigue.
- The Exercise Coach uses machines because it helps people focus and feel confident in what they are doing without having to worry about the risk of injury.
- Using a machine will position yourself specifically to do that exercise. You won’t have to worry about the variables and skills associated with using free weights.
- Machine weights create an on-ramp for anyone to begin exercising and democratize high-intensity strength training.
- Research shows that high intensity strength training is safe for anyone and targets what matters most, which is age-related skeletal muscle loss. When we effectively and optimally work our muscles, every system of the body gets better as well.
- Using biomechanically correct machines is the easiest way to introduce people to high-intensity strength training. Many of the conventional exercise methods don’t make it possible for the vast majority of people to safely and confidently engage with high level strength training.
- One of the objections that people will bring up against using machines has to do with stabilizer muscles, but it’s actually an argument against free weights. The requirement of balancing free weights prevents you from actually applying the optimal stimulus to your muscles.
- Every muscle in the body can act as a stabilizer muscle. Machines can help you target those muscles directly, instead of relying on free weight exercises to hit them as a side effect.
- There is no such thing as muscles specific to “real world” applications. There are just muscles, and research shows that strength gains generated from machines do transfer to other types of activities.
- At the College of New Jersey, researchers found that people using Exerbotics machines developed strength that transferred to free weight and calisthenic exercises as well. The reverse is not always true. There is a lot of skill involved in moving free weights around, that it doesn’t necessarily transfer to other areas of life.
- Strength Coach clients often report back that they have noticed that everyday activities like carrying the groceries or golfing get so much easier, which are great examples of how strength changes everything.
- People don’t want to spend a lot of time at the gym and they don’t have to. With a science-based approach to strength training, people can get the results that matter most to them in brief and safe training sessions.
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