Comparisons between machines & free weights

Fitness Equipment Buyers Guide, Fitness for beginners

Comparisons Between Machines and Free Weights

Advantages of Free Weights

  • Free weights such as dumbbells and barbells are more effective in developing the small synergistic (helping) muscles and stabilising muscles.
  • The movements made when using free weights follow a more natural path of motion,
  • Free weights are more versatile
  • Free weights are less expensive to buy
  • Free weights, such as a pair of dumbbells, can be space efficient.
  • They can achieve an increase in overall strength more effectively
  • Power is improved more efficiently.
  • Size and flexibility are improved more efficiently with free weights.

Disadvantages of Free Weights

  • Training alone with free weights can be dangerous
  • Changing weights in between sets can be very time consuming
  • If they are not stored correctly they will finish up spread all over the floor which can be hazardous
  • In certain exercises, it is difficult, to derive maximum isolation of a muscle or groups of muscles.

Advantages of Machines

  • Some machines are more effective at isolating a muscle or muscle groups for more efficient overload
  • Machines are generally safer to use than free weights as the weight stack is connected and controlled by guide rods.
  • Multi stack machines, which allow groups of people to use them at the same time, are more space efficient.
  • Machines are easier to use.
  • Workouts can be performed more quickly on a machine.
  • Because workouts are quicker they tend to be used more which means you are more likely to achieve your goals.
  • The new cable machines are now providing some of the advantages of free weights.

Disadvantages of Machines

  • Many machines move the weights along a specific path so it’s very difficult for the synergistic and stabilising muscles to get involved.
  • It is very difficult to do speed training on a machine. The machine would bounce or jerk violently.
  • Generally good machines are more expensive than free weights.
  • Machines are built to accommodate an average size person, so tall or short people may find some exercises almost impossible to perform.

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