By Myprotein Writer
Starting off in the gym can be nerve racking enough without panicking about what equipment you’ll need to use. Do I opt for the machines or free weights?
We’ve outlined the pros for each that are key to both types of training.
Free Weights Pros
✓ You can use full range of motion
Theres’ complete freedom to move around rather than being locked into a specific range of motion or pattern. This allows your body to do what it is naturally built to do – move. A full range of motion will allow a better stretch of the muscle.
✓ Place a greater demand on stabilising muscles
Using free weights will activate more synergistic stabilising muscles while you are training, which will help to keep your joints healthy and fully operational when done properly.
✓ Compound movements for calorie burn
If you have limited time to train and want to get a lot accomplished with a few exercises then free-weight compound movements are the way to go. For example, deadlifts. There isn’t a muscle in your body that doesn’t get worked with this one!
✓ Allow for endless variation
With machines you are really limited to what you can do depending on what is available. With free weights, all you need is one dumbbell and you can do hundreds of different exercise variations. Its important to hit a muscle with different angles to work different parts of the muscle and using free weights allows you to do so.
✓ Easy to learn and use
Machines will have a picture on how to use them properly, making them easy to use – which may also reduce chance of injury. This is particularly applicable for beginners. It will also build a good foundation of strength so that when you do move onto the free weights you can perform more of the complex exercises.
✓ Isolate muscle groups more efficiently
Since most of your body will be pretty stable on most machine, it enables targeting the larger muscle groups a lot more efficient. This is beneficial to those who have a solid foundation and are looking to improve their physique by building muscle mass. This can be the preferred method for some bodybuilder types. For example: seated bench press; it’s a lot easier to get a good contraction when using a machine press since you’re more in control.
✓ Allow you to train with heavier weights without assistance
If you are fairly new to the gym and don’t have the correct form for free weights, it may be difficult to add resistance. Some machines will allow you to slap on extra weight without risk of injury. This may also be useful if you are pressing or squatting without a partner or spotter.
✓ May be useful for elderly people or rehab
For someone that has a really low level of fitness or is recovering from an injury, machines may be the tool to get their strength up quickly and safely. Since machines isolate it may also be easier to work around certain injuries.
Take home message
Those are the pros of each type of training, machines and free weights.
If you are just starting out and want to build some muscle before attempting the free weight moves then the machines will be suitable for you. However, if your goal consists of wanting to build a more complete physique, a mixture of both free weights and machines will be beneficial as they both can work in tandem with each other.
The level of experience you have in the gym may determine whether you start on the machines or free weights!