If you’ve ever experienced the inside of a gym, then you probably have come across the plethora of choices when it comes to strengthening and toning your muscles. More often than not, the first pieces of equipment you run into when walking inside any gym are the machines.
Most gyms are equipped with at least one machine that focuses on a specific body group: biceps, triceps, shoulders, legs, etc. Then usually far off in the distance is the endless row of free weights.
But the question still remains: What’s the difference between the two? Which one will deliver a better workout?
And the answer to that is as follows…
Machines are a great choice for beginners. You simply approach the equipment and either sit down or stand up, and let the machine guide your body through the movements of the workout while they provide the resistance. All you have to do is push or pull. That’s it.
Weight machines provide several benefits for the user: faster workouts, reduced risk of injury and simplicity.
Since all it takes is selecting your weight, machines allow you to quickly toggle through the weight selection, as you move from one set to the next ⎯ cutting your time at the gym in half.
If you’re a person who is either new to the gym scene, or just a person who hasn’t worked out in a while, then starting out on machines can be beneficial in order to reduce your chances of injury. Some beginners who use free weights often run the risk of under-extending or overextending their muscles ⎯ but not with machines.
According to MayoClinic, most injuries during strength training occur when we go out of our body’s preferred range of motion, and weight machines help us ensure that this doesn’t happen.
Machines also help in the rehabilitation of injured athletes, due to the fact that they provide a more controlled motion and isolate specific muscle groups.
Most machines are self-explanatory, and provide users with detailed instructions on the equipment. So, if you’re someone who doesn’t care to invest in a personal trainer, then you can create your own circuit training routine by following the instructions, or by watching the person ahead of you perform the exercise.
Research has shown that free weights deliver faster strength gains and they require more balance and coordination than do the weight machines, according to the University of Illinois Medical Center.
Free weights engage more muscle groups and muscle fibers during workouts, and tend to promote more activity in the joint stabilizer muscles.
Free weights are also much more inexpensive than resistance machines. The use of machines requires a gym membership. Whereas with free weights, all you need is a few dumbbells and a little imagination, and you can conduct an entire strength training routine in the privacy of your own home.
REACHING A DECISION
No matter which route you decide to journey down, always remember that demonstrating proper technique during exercise is more important than the type of equipment you use.