Free Weights vs Machines

Free Weights vs Machines: People often wonder if resistance training with free weights is better than training with machines and why. Both methods have distinct advantages and disadvantages which are discussed in the article below.

Training with machinesFree weight vs. machines

-Training with the aid of machines is often much easier. Machines ‘force’ the person training with them to make a certain movement and

therefore it is easier to train with correct technique.

-Because it is easier to perform an exercise correctly and movement is forced in a certain direction there is less chance of injury.

-Machines are often easier and quicker to set up

-The stabilizing muscles are not activated as much and will hardly be trained, so the limiting factor is more often the larger muscle groups that are targeted by the specific exercise. (ie. the main muscle groups receive a proper training)

Training with free weightsFree weight vs. machines

-Training with free weights, even when performing the same basic movement as with a machine (for example a dumbbell press vs a chest
press) activates the muscles that aid and stabilize the movement to a greater extent. This has important implications for stabilizing ability of certain joints.

-Because there is more variation in movement, strength gains are not as specific as in training with machines, but more general, meaning that strength useful in real life will increase more. In addition, the stabilizing muscles are trained to a greater extent, making free weight training superior in increasing ‘real life’ strength.

-Improvement in proprioception also known as the sense that detects position and movement of the body. Because more attention has to be paid to a correct technique during training, people using weight training are better aware of what their body is doing, which makes it easier to correct bad posture and to train more effectively.

-Because it is harder to perform the exercise correctly, the movement is not forced into a certain direction and more stabilazation is needed there is a higher risk of injury compared with training with machines.