The difference between free weights and machines:
Free weights give you a comprehensive training effect in that you work more muscles simultaneously, which means you have to work harder, which means you burn more calories than when you use machines weights. On the other hand, machine weights work a targeted muscle group, which we sometimes need to do.
If you’re trying to decide whether to do free weights or machines, I would say do a little bit of both.
If you’re new to weight lifting, start on the machines and build up your muscle base, and then move up to free weights. Because free weights are just that, free and not fixed to a machine, it is more difficult to exercise with them. You must have more coordination and strength to pull of exercises when working with free weights.
If you’re going for a free weight workout, don’t forget about the cable cross! The cable cross is my favorite because of the large range of motion and increased muscle activation you get from it. If you have bad knees, the cable cross is going to be your best friend, because you can hook the cable to your ankle with an ankle strap, lift the cable away from its fixed point, bend your knee up to 90 degrees and then straighten it and repeat.
The exercise I just explained is a no impact exercise that strengthens the quadriceps muscle, which needs to be super strong if you have bad knees. If you’re going to strengthen your quadriceps, don’t forget to strengthen the opposing muscle group – the hamstrings! See, the cable cross is great!
Which is better? Free weights or machines? It depends on your situation and your fitness level:
– If your knees are injured, head for the cable cross.
– If your back is injured, use the hip sled (machine).
– If you haven’t been to the gym in a while, go back to the machines for a little while, get your muscle back and then head over to the free weights when you’re ready.
Always get the advice of a certified personal trainer if you don’t know the proper technique for any exercise (especially if you’re using free weights) to ensure you don’t get injured.
Which do you like better and why – free weights or machine weights?
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