You may be wondering what the difference is between using free weights and machines. This is a perfectly valid question because to beginners, entering a gym and seeing all the equipment can be intimidating; you don’t want to look like a fool in front of the other members, do you? Bodybuilders say that neither is better than the other because both were not created to replace each other. Instead, they were created for use alongside each other to garner maximum results.
Free weights are first and foremost, easy to transport. Machines, on the other hand, must be assembled and disassembled unless you have a very, very big front door. Unlike machines, you can bring your free weights almost anywhere: the garage, yard, or even the office!
Another advantage to using free weights is how they activate the stabilizer muscles. The development of these stabilizers helps you become stronger and improve your balance even outside the gym.
Machines are great for beginners and for those recovering from injuries. They have a set projected motion, so it’s easy to target specific areas of the body, unlike when you use free weights. It’s also relatively easy to figure out, resulting in fewer mistakes on your part. With free weights, there are many different ways to do a bicep crunch, but with machines, there is only one set way to do a tricep extension using, let’s say, cables. This projected line of motion is what sets machines apart from free weights.
It is this set range of motion that also makes it easier for recovering bodybuilders get back into shape. Less muscles are involved, so it’s not as taxing and your actions are almost ‘guided’ by the cables.
Those who engage in circuit training are more often dependent on free weights because of the pacing of their workouts. Unless you are fortunate enough to have your own gym full of equipment, then you most probably go to a public gym. This is all well and good, but the problem with circuit training with machines is that there is most likely someone else on the next machine you want to work on. Waiting is not an option because the whole point of circuit training is to keep your heart rate up, and resting does the opposite of that. When you have to wait for someone else to be done with the machine, every second counts.
A combination of free weights and machines in your exercise program is recommended. Taking all the other factors into account, they both have their fair share of advantages and disadvantages. Take your time exploring the different kinds of equipment and exercise because it is never the same for everybody. Enlist the help of a spotter or a companion when working out; you’ll never know when you get a cramp when doing a bench press, or when you’ll need a little encouragement during your last set. The gym is a community and you should do your part in being a good community member.