When you exercise, you want the exercises to provide the most benefit, right? Many people wonder whether exercising with machines or free weights will provide the most benefit. Workouts that work the most muscle groups together at a time are the most efficient, but can you work more muscles with free weights or with machines?
There are actually benefits and drawbacks to both exercising systems, just like there are for most things. Depending on your goals, either exercise method can be more efficient.
Examining Free Weights
Free weights are weights like barbells and dumbbells. They are the equipment most often seen in home gyms.
Free weight pros: One of the biggest reasons to use free weights is that they use the muscles you are working out, but also use stabilizing muscles. This allows you to increase the number of muscle groups to work together. Free weights help you engage your core, back muscles, neck muscles, and more.
Free weights also simulate everyday activities. This means that you are conditioning your muscles to be useful in real life. They also help improve your balance, because you have to stabilize your body on your own.
Free weight cons: There are a few risks associated with free weight use as well. If you do not use proper form, you have a higher chance of injuring yourself with free weights. You can also reduce your efficiency with free weights if you do not continue to add additional weight as your strength increases. If you do the exercise wrong, you may not be exercising your muscles efficiently.
Weight machines are machines designed to work target muscle groups. As long as you sit in the machine properly, you will have the proper form for training that muscle group. Machine weights are often beneficial for novice exercisers who are unaware of the proper form for free weights.
Pros of machines: With machines, you have a much lower chance of getting an injury. The machine guides you through the motions of the exercise safely and effectively. Machines are also easy to use. You don’t have to worry about getting into the correct form as the machines already help you with that. You do not have to think about the exercise much, but can do it quickly and efficiently. If you want to exercise through an injury, you can reduce the weight in a machine and still continue with the exercise.
Cons of machines: There are some cons of machine weights as well. You have a higher chance of getting a muscle overload injury. If you do the exercises too often, you could injure the muscle. Machine weights often do not mimic how you use muscles outside of the gym, which may cause problems in everyday life when you try to lift something but cannot. Using machines can also cause injuries if your body shape is not right for that machine.
Overall, it is difficult to tell which exercise is more effective. You will see fast muscle-growth from machine weights, but free weights provide increased strength for everyday life. It really is up to you and your skill level to determine which kinds of weights are right for you.