I am a believer in using both machines and free weights. In the last post, Giving Exercise Machines the Respect They Deserve, I talk about how machine exercises can compensate for some of the flaws in free weight lifts. However, Free weight lifts do have some advantages.
The Benefits of Free Weight Exercises
When you do a free weight exercise, you have to control the weight in a 3 dimensional space. What this does is activate the stabilizer muscles and works more than just the prime muscle being targeted. Another benefit of lifting with free weights is that you gain “functional strength” that will help you with real world tasks.
The Benefits of Exercise Machines
As discussed in the previous article, machines can make their resistance match the resistance curve of the muscle. A good exercise machine can exhaust the target muscle fully, without having sticking points in the lift. With machines you can concentrate more on giving maximum effort and less on things like balancing the weight. You can get very hard contractions in your target muscle with an effective exercise machine.
How to Strategically Combine the Two for Maximum Results
A big flaw in free weights is that often times the stabilizer muscles can get exhausted before the target muscle gets worked. I prefer to begin with lifts that require the most balancing first like dumbbell lifts…followed by lifts that require less balancing like barbell lifts…and ending with exercise machines which require no balancing at all. The benefit here is that each lift requires less and less stabilizer muscles. The final machine exercise lift exhausts the prime muscle and basically finishes off that muscle group. This is a great way to involve the muscle fully by combining the benefits of both types of lifting.
You Can Get Fit With Either Machine Exercises or Free Weights
You really don’t have to use both free weights and machine exercises to get fit. You can get really toned with just free weights or just using exercise machines. Most trainers do recommend free weights, mainly because it is healthy to work those stabilizer muscles and the strength is a bit more functional than what you get with machines. That being said, I have seen extremely toned and impressive physiques created by nothing but machine exercises.
If You Have Access to Both Machine Exercises and Free Weights, Give This a Try
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