Free Weights v.s. Machines

A friend of mine recently asked me what type of workout I do. I change my workouts often, but currently I take a spinning class three times a week, I do a leg work out two times a week, and I split my upper body into two days. But one thing remains consistent no matter what kind of mix and match exercise routine I am doing. I try to stay off of the machines, and here is why:

  1. Machines control your range of motion.
    Sounds like a good thing, right? Not really. Machines often eliminate a lot of work on your part. This is great for beginners, but once you’re past the rookie stage, it is much more effective to be in control of your movement and range of motion.
  2. Many machines put you in a seated position.
    Whenever possible, a standing position is better. Standing while working with weights, pulleys, or bands loads your skeleton (good for bone health), requires you to engage your core muscles, and challenges your balance. It’s like a three for one.
  3. Many machines may isolate only one muscle group.
    Our muscles rarely work in isolation. Although there’s nothing wrong with supplementing a good workout with exercises that isolate a muscle group. But exercises likes squats, lunges, and assisted pull-ups involve several joints which develops more muscle mass (muscle burns calories all day long), improves core strength, and shortens workout time.
Of course there will always be circumstances where a machine will come in handy, and some days you may want the assistance of a machine or look forward to sitting down through parts of your workout, but if you have a choice between a machine and free weights or body weight exercises, try to go with the weights.

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