A huge discussion within the fitness world is whether or not you should use free weights when exercising or machine weights. While there are die-hard proponents for both sides of the argument there is no hard-set rule as to which technique is clearly superior. Instead, the type of exercise regime an individual is participating in, their own goals, fitness level and access to equipment and funds will play a major role in determining which system they should ultimately use.
Supporters of free weights will make the claim that it has been working for hundreds of years, with great results, why fix something that isn’t broken? While this is true, it has proven time and again that certain training techniques proposed in the past have had very little impact on a person’s physical physique and in some cases been harmful. Obviously, as time progresses technology improves and some of these improvements have come in the form of fitness equipment.
When an individual goes to the gym they are training not only endurance or cardio but rather, they are training for “life”. It is not very often that a person will use the same motions “taught” by a fitness machine in their everyday life. However, while machines may not be very practical for everyday life, this is where free weights shine. Most of the time free weights offer more range of motion for your muscles, more range of motion translates to more results as well as free weights often engage more of your muscles at one time than their counterpart fitness equipment. What this means for you is more everyday living muscle growth.
Another positive of machines is how easy they are to use once you have been properly instructed. You don’t have to waste time and energy dragging a barbell to your workout area nor do you have to drag it all the way back if you selected an inappropriate weight. Instead, most machines allow you to quickly adjust the weight you are using by simply moving a clasp up or down. Another positive aspect of fitness equipment is that most are multipurpose, once you finish doing one exercise you can move right on to the next with very little delay in your workout routine. Less delay means faster, more efficient training sessions. Some machines even let you perform an entire body workout on the same equipment!
Unfortunately with efficiency comes cost. Fitness machines are expensive. Whether you are using a gym and paying for a monthly membership or you decide to invest in your own home equipment it is going to be costly. A couple of free weights are often less expensive and definitely take up less space in the house. Also, a lot of the machines that are being advertised today are not effective or do not do what they claim. If you don’t take the time to do proper research you may just end up with an expensive coat rack rather than the full body machine you bought.
As you can see both free weights and fitness machines have their own merits and drawbacks and neither system will be perfect for every single person. Instead, before deciding which training technique you will pursue determine your individual circumstances. It may be that free weights are the right choice for you or it may be that you simply prefer machines and remember, if you truly can’t make up your mind there is nothing stopping you from using both!