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View Full Version : Are free weights are better than machines? Imo, Yes


Ano
06-29-2007, 01:48 AM
Here are my opinions :

Machines don't accommodate different body types as their manufacturers insist. You can adjust the settings all you want, but some exercises will never be perceived as natural motion by the body. With free weights, you’ll always find the right groove; it just might take some time to do so. Specific to the "long-run," machines fix you into certain movement planes that can lead to pattern overload and overuse injuries over time.

There's also the argument that machines are less intimidating to novice trainees. Perhaps, but who really wants to remember the settings for the weight stack, footpad, bench and chest support ?

Those who are intimidated by free weights are that way because they haven't been educated about how free weights aren’t that much different from what they do in their everyday lives. Is a one-armed row that much different than starting the lawnmower? Is a dumbell bench press that much different than punching a guy who stole your girlfriend? Teach these individuals about functional carryover and how free weights will improve their quality of life, and you’ll see very quickly that the intimidation argument is bunk.

Now, my final argument: machines require no stabilization. When someone lifts weights, they aren't just training muscles; they’re training their neuromuscular system, which includes efferent (feed-forward) and afferent (feedback) mechanisms. They’re stressing the somatosensory and visual systems. It’s your responsibility to expose them to the richest and most appropriately functional proprioceptive environment from day one. Free weights can do that, machines don’t.

IMO, the argument of starting someone with machines and then switching them to free weights once they’re "comfortable" doesn't hold water. Crucial neural and muscular components of stabilization won't be in place, so it'll be much harder and more dangerous to master the new movement than if the individual had been progressed in a functional.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some machines that have their place in all training programs (such as Keiser machines). In fact, I’m a fan of cables, glute-ham raises, and reverse hypers. However, the vast majority of your training should be based on free weights. Use both barbells and dumbbells. The former will allow you to teach maximal loading sooner, while the latter will offer greater functional carryover and protection against overuse injury.

Last one : free weights are cheaper than machines.

Okay, I want to hear your opinion in this topic.

Solat
06-29-2007, 02:14 AM
depends on what you are doing weights for, if it is for an open skill sport like tennis then free weights are much more desirable due to the fact as you mentioned all the supporting/stabilising muscles are being used. As open sports are multidimensional all muscles are either being used for motion, action or support.

origmarm
06-29-2007, 02:21 AM
Personally as somewhat of a novice on the topic here is my take.

Free weights do indeed seem to have the advantage of a more natural feeling motion and you definitely have to maintain balance more. The downside to this is technique. For free weights as you are not guided by the motion imposed by the machine you have to learn the technique. This requires a significant time investment/financial investment (with a trainer) that for many people is not what they want or even need for general keep fit/healthy training.

I would say that if you are serious about your condition then this is a good trade-off and worth investing the time/money in. If you are just down the gym to keep reasonably fit and not get fat and unhealthy I'm not so sure. I would like to think everyone had the time/inclination to do this properly but then reality suggests otherwise :)

Those who are intimidated by free weights are that way because they haven't been educated about how free weights aren’t that much different from what they do in their everyday lives. Is a dumbell bench press that much different than punching a guy who stole your girlfriend?

Excusing the selective edit above...I'm a little concerned by how you spend your weekends...sounds like you could be quite good fun to go for a few beers with :)

Spector
06-29-2007, 02:33 AM
I'll have to agree with you.

Although machines can be useful in building up power of a specific muscle due to machines being able to better isolate a signle muscle.

One of the good points that you raised however, was the issue about "the argument of starting someone with machines and then switching them to free weights once they’re comfortable". It has come to be that this is the norm when there is no scientific evidence which is in favour of this. Like everything there are exceptions to this but overall for most people who are new to weight programmes free weights will be more beneficial to them than machines.

Ano
06-29-2007, 02:41 AM
Excusing the selective edit above...I'm a little concerned by how you spend your weekends...sounds like you could be quite good fun to go for a few beers with :)

I was only kidding with that words. ;)

Ano
06-29-2007, 02:47 AM
I'll have to agree with you.

Although machines can be useful in building up power of a specific muscle due to machines being able to better isolate a signle muscle.

One of the good points that you raised however, was the issue about "the argument of starting someone with machines and then switching them to free weights once they’re comfortable". It has come to be that this is the norm when there is no scientific evidence which is in favour of this. Like everything there are exceptions to this but overall for most people who are new to weight programmes free weights will be more beneficial to them than machines.


Yes, the analogy is something like this : do you teach a child to throw a baseball by rigging him up to some fancy contraption that fixes his arm into a specific line of motion?

Or do you just let him throw, offer subtle cues, and allow him to develop in the most functional sense possible?

In a weight training context, I’d much rather have a client pinned under a bar-only bench press attempt as a beginner, than have him train on machines and build a false sense of strength and security, only to be crushed under 135 pounds eight weeks later.

chess9
06-29-2007, 03:08 AM
only to be crushed under 135 pounds eight weeks later.[/QUOTE]

Yes, but my breastbone is now fine. :)

If I had to choose, I'd choose freeweights, but I use both. I have days where I just go to the gym, dreading doing anything physical, and just go through the motions. I will simply go down the aisle and hit every machine seriatum and walk out of the gym. Nothing heavy, no long sets, just bang and done. A maintenance workout that probably has only small benefit, but I've done hundreds of them over the years, so the cumulative benefit is probably huge.

Also, at my age, the Smith Machine, and Leg Press Machines are my friends on heavy days. I just don't want to risk the possible injury of squatting heavy with free weights, even with a spotter. I need to squat heavy at least once a week too to hold onto any muscle. My testosterone is leaking out like a 61 Corvair's transmission, so anything I can do helps a bit. ;)

I do arms, shoulders, back (one arm row are my favorites, though cable rows are good), with dumbbells. I also do lunges about once every two weeks with dbs.

Beginners may be better off with light freeweight exercises if they can get good supervision. I notice that our club's trainers all have their clients on light free weights and body weight exercises early on. These movements build functional strength quickly, and provide the stabilizer muscle growth so essential to further gains. They also keep the client alive and healthy when they are supervised. LOL. I was helping a friend do some flys and she kept moving the dumbbells right over her face. Talk about getting me nervous...one slip and crushed cheek, nose, eye socket, etc. So good supervision is a big part of the freeweight prescription, IMHO.

Training is really part art part science, I suspect. You have to know the client and know your science and make the workout prescription fit the training/health need.

My biggest complaint is not which but whether. Too many do nothing. Lots of very fat folks out there...

-Robert

origmarm
06-29-2007, 03:42 AM
I was only kidding with that words. ;)

Yeah I know mate, I'm just playing with you :)