Part 1: What’s Better, Free Weights or Machines?

Part 1: What’s Better, Free Weights or Machines?

When it comes to the best daily workout routine, there are as many opinions as there are equipment choices. On one hand, you have the gurus who will swear by using machines to get fit and build muscle, and on the other are weightlifters who will tell you free weights are the only way to go. With so many differing opinions, how do you decide what’s best for your own workout plan? Read on to find out the pros and cons of free weights, then next time, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of workout machines so that you can make the decision for yourself!

Free Weights: Pros

Most of the body builders that you see are going to be big proponents of using free weights. That’s because when you use free weights, the muscles in your body not only have to lift the weight of the bar and plates, they also need to constantly adjust for your balance. The muscles that get worked while adjusting for your balance are called stabilizer muscles, and will be different depending on the workout you’re currently performing. For example, when performing a bench press, your pectoral muscles are the main muscle being worked. However, during the exercise, your shoulders, abs, arms, and even your legs are working to stabilize your body to complete the bench press motion.

That’s why big compound workouts like the bench press, dead lift, and squat are considered full body exercises. Working out with free weights provides other muscles an opportunity to strengthen themselves in ways that machines don’t allow for.

Free Weights: Cons

After hearing that working with free weights allows you to strengthen more muscles at once, you might be ready to jump right in and start pumping that iron. But before you do, let’s look at the downside of free weights. First off, working with free weights can be dangerous if not done with proper form. Countless injuries to the back, rotator cuff, knees, and more can be attributed to individuals who just went at it on the free weights and didn’t take the time to learn proper form. If you’re going to work out with free weights, make sure you are confident in your form. Even if that means you have start with a lot less weight than you think you can lift. Form is one of, if not the, most important aspect of lifting with free weights.

Another con to free weights that goes hand in hand with the first one is that form isn’t easy to learn. While some people can pick up form very quickly and never have a problem with it, that isn’t a common occurrence. Chances are you will have to work on it for weeks or even months before you have it down to the point where you don’t have to consciously think about it while performing a workout. For this reason, sometimes it’s just easier to use a machine when going through your daily routine.

Working with free weights absolutely has its benefits and can help you build muscle quickly when compared to using machines. However, for individuals who are risk averse and don’t feel comfortable learning proper form, machines could be the way to go. Come back next time for an in-depth look at the pros and cons of using machines in your daily workout routine.

If you’d like to get in touch with us about getting top-of-the-line free weights and machines, or you’re interested in nailing down proper form with some personal training, don’t hesitate to give us a call or stop in at one of our locations. We’d love to talk! Our number is (650) 348-1259 for San Mateo or (408) 244-3010 for Santa Clara or you can reach us online here!

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