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Machine Weights or Free Weights?
by Justin Leonard
Written on October 28, 2000

Machine weights? Free weights? Which is better? There are several advantages and disadvantages to both free weights and machines. Free weights have been successfully used for years in strength training programs. It's a proven effective method for building strength. Lets' analyze the machines.

Unlike free weights, machines limit the plane of motion for each exercise and can restrict the development of stabilizer muscles. For example, take dumbbell free weight shoulder presses and the machine equivalent. With the dumbbells, the body uses the abdominal muscles and lower back to stabilize the upper torso. These secondary muscles are used very little, if at all, in machine movements. In some cases, machines do not offer size adjustments and force some users into a higher risk of injury.

There are several advantages to machines over free weights. Machines allow you to train alone without the use of a spotter. They usually take up less space. Also, machine weights are usually quicker and more convenient to operate than free weights. Most changes in weight resistance can be done with an easy-to-use pin adjustment.

So which is better?

Neither is better than the other. The best option when it comes to working out is to utilize a combination of both machines and free weights to maximize muscular development. They each have advantages and disadvantages, but the combination of the two is what yields awesome results!

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