Its finally time for you to get into shape, you're either new to strength training, or it's been some time since you've been in the gym. It's easy to just sit down in a comfortable machine, but are you getting the best workout for the time you can devote to your fitness? Here are some pros and cons about using free weights versus exercise machines.
The Benefits of Using Free Weights
When your using free weights your really getting more bang for your buck. There are so many more exercises that you can do with free weights, at home or at the gym, than with big, expensive machines.
When using free weights there are no range of motion inhibitors like with most exercise machines. You can adjust each exercise to your body. Another great benefit with free weight is that you can really enhance your motor skills. When using free weights their are more demands made on your muscles to stabilize and balance your body and the weight, giving you a more complete workout.
You can exercise anywhere. Once you get accustomed to free weights, you can go into any gym and feel comfortable. Plus, you can design your own home gym easily and inexpensively.
When it really comes down to it if you want to get big you need to train on free weights. Take a look around the gym the next time you go and see what all the big guys use, with out a doubt all their excersices are with free weights.
The Negatives of Using Free Weights
You'll need to get advice to help you get the right workout program design. Hiring a trainer or researching the best exercises for you must come first. It is also extremely important to use proper form, again hiring a trainer will get you started right, before you get into any bad habits.
Your chances of getting injured are also increased when you're using free weights. If you don't know what you're doing, free weights can hurt you faster than it will make you fit.
You'll need a lifting partner if you plan on pumping heavy iron. Get a partner or trainer to help check your form; it's easy to get sloppy, even when you know what your doing. For example, don't try a heavy weight in the squat or bench press without a "spotter". Make sure that you can control the weight and do the exercise in perfect position.
The Benefits of Using Exercise Machines
If you're low on time, using machines can be an efficient way to get in a workout. Putting a pin into the weight stack is quicker than loading up a barbell, plus the arrangement of machines in a gym facilitates changing exercises efficiently.
If you're new to the gym, and without a trainer, machines are a safe way to go. Most machines have diagrams to help you with proper lifting form. If you have injuries, machines will help stabilize your body. With the extra support, you can focus on healthy muscles, and give the injuries time to heal. If you want to lift heavy weights without assistance, machines will help. The security of the machine allows you to lift more, without fear of dropping weights.
If you want to train one specific muscle group, machines aid in focus. It is difficult to do certain exercises (like a leg curl) with free weights, and a machine will hone right in on your desired goal.
The Negatives of Using Exercise Machines
Machines let you cruise through an exercise without bringing in stabilizing muscles. You don't get true strength that relates to the movement in your daily life.
Another negative with machines is that they don't always fit your body. If you are very small or very tall, the machines may not fit your size, and the exercise won't be mechanically efficient, leading to frustration or injury. Also most exercise machine don't give you much flexibility or variation. Most machines create a forced or guided two-dimensional movement pattern, so you are limited in how your muscles develop.
If you have been training on machines for a while you will come to realize that machines get boring! The same old same old; not only do your muscles get bored, so does your brain. Loss of motivation can lead you to dropping out of your fitness program.
Another problem with using machines are that they get filled quickly if the gym is busy. Your time is valuable so standing around waiting for someone to get off the machine is a hassle and a turn-off when you want to get into shape.