Machines or Free Weights?
Today’s topic I will be talking about muscle stimulation and whether or not it is better to use machines or free weights.
A lot of people will argue that machines are not the best way to build muscle and that the only way to build a solid physique is through lifting free weights. The reason being is that free weights allow the body to move in its natural motions and not in motions that are limited to the machines. Another reason is: that lifting free weights causes the many more body parts to become involved therefore inducing and triggering more muscular growth throughout. A good example of this would be squats vs. the leg press. Squatting a barbell utilizes the core, shoulders, arms and back to keep the weight stable, whereas being on a leg press machine only focuses directly on the legs therefore less stress on the body.
So are free weights actually better than using machines?
You have to look beyond what is often said by people and take a look at the science behind muscle growth. The bottom line is: whether you are using machines or free weights, as long as you perform the exercise with enough intensity, it will stimulate muscle growth. While free weights will make up the majority of your routine, it is not completely fair to say that one is better than the other in terms of effectiveness. They both have their advantages and disadvantages. The main reason why free weights are recommended over machines as I’ve said above, is that they allow you to move through a more natural range of motion. This will recruit more stabilizer muscles and reduces your chance of injury because you are not moving on a fixed plane. There are many machines that allow the muscles to be more effectively stimulated such as stationary dip machines, lat pull downs, and cable lateral raises. There are also many effective exercises that machines allow you to perform that cannot be duplicated easily using free weights. Some examples of those exercises are leg presses, leg curls, and face pulls. Don’t make the mistake of believing that free weights are massively superior or that your entire workout should be based on free weight movements only.
I’ll be completely honest with you, I don’t care whether or not I use machines or free weights in the gym. There are often days where I incorporate machines in my routine to change it up, or that I do not have anyone to properly spot me on big compound movements such as bench press and I often opt for machines instead. I still feel like I get a great workout using machines. Like I said, as long as you stimulate your muscles and work them beyond their capacity to muscular failure, it will not make a huge difference whether or not you use tools such as machines, dumbbells, or barbells. I love to do burn out sets at the end of my workouts with high volume and knowing that I do not have to worry about a spotter or re-racking the weight is great. So try to mix things up and not opt for one or the other. Both can be used to give you the muscular gains that you want.The best workout that you can structure will properly use machines and free weights together. See you in the next article.