One of the most frequent questions, even amongst experienced gym-goers, is that for strength and muscle training, which is more effective, using weight machines or using free weights?
There are advantages and disadvantages to both, and having a better idea of what they each can offer will help us understand which would be more beneficial.
First off, let’s just clarify that the main difference between these two pieces of equipment: Weight or strength machines are designed to ‘target’ specific muscles or muscle groups (prime movers) and so restrict movement to predetermined plane or path. Free weights however, by virtue of the fact they are ‘free’ standing require you to fully support them when they are lifted. It takes more than one muscle group to accomplish this, even for exercises that focus on a particular muscle group. There is almost always a requirement to balance the weight in more than one direction, so smaller, ‘non-prime’ muscles are continuously engaged.
Rise of the Machines
Let’s look at Weight Machines
1. Easy to Use – Probably the biggest advantage (and hence why it’s first on the list) is that weight machines are easy to use. They usually only move in one particular way – so there is a small risk of you getting it wrong. Also, exercise instructions are usually available on each machine, with sample illustrations.
2. All body workout – There are numerous types and sizes of machines available now that cater for almost all muscle groups. Being able to target specific areas and prime movers throughout the whole body is therefore possible. multihead weigher
3. Time Efficient – Weight machines bring an element of time efficiency to training. The workouts tend to be faster as there is no need to deal with loading barbells and re-stacking weights, so a smoother transition from one machine (and muscle group) to another is achieved.
4. Cardio training – The ability to move from one machine to another easily also has another advantage – it helps maintain a higher heart rate, so you get the best of both worlds – a cardio workout while strength training
Weights Machines also have their Disadvantages:
1. Inflexible movement pattern – An obvious disadvantage of the design of the machines is that due to their design to isolate particular muscles only, they sometime require the body to move through ‘un-natural’ movement patterns. The core and the trunk of the body is not required for stabilisation, and the adjustments on the machines are usually not flexible enough to cater for all individuals.
2. Overwork – As the machines are used to work a specific muscle or muscle group, it is easier to overload the weights and potentially cause injury as there are no other muscles other than the prime movers involved to support the extra weight.