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  1. #1
    Registered User wannaturnheads's Avatar
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    Machines vs. Free Weights

    Could anyone give me some advice and basic fundamentals revolving around free weight vs. machine work? I want to make the most of my workouts, but it's a little simpler for me to use machines (being female and not having a workout partner--I hate asking guys to spot me because they think I'm hitting on them). I just want to make sure I'm not losing making some advancements by doing too much machine work. For example, instead of using a regular squat rack, I use the Smith machine.

    Thanks in advance.
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  2. #2
    12 to go! Steveo31's Avatar
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    Re: Machines vs. Free Weights

    Originally posted by wannaturnheads
    I hate asking guys to spot me because they think I'm hitting on them).
    Hah, that's a first. Never heard of that as a pickup line....

    Take a look here:

    http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showth...hreadid=310292

    It explains (kinda) the arguement of machines vs. free weights and why one is superior to the other. Open chained vs. closed chain is really what it is about, nervous system muscle fiber recruitment, that kinda stuff. Since there are no boy or girl exercises, then I'd stick with the usual stuff... bench press, curls, squats, blah blah. Bite the bullet and ask a guy to spot you. Or a girl if one is around.
    http://www.exrx.net/Lists/Directory.html


    -ohashi
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  3. #3
    Banned Porky's Avatar
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    this has been discussed quite a bit. do a search and u will proly find a few posts
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    <3 Tea Zensuji's Avatar
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    <3 Tea Zensuji's Avatar
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    <3 Tea Zensuji's Avatar
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    Re: Machines vs. Free Weights

    Originally posted by wannaturnheads
    Could anyone give me some advice and basic fundamentals revolving around free weight vs. machine work? I want to make the most of my workouts, but it's a little simpler for me to use machines (being female and not having a workout partner--I hate asking guys to spot me because they think I'm hitting on them). I just want to make sure I'm not losing making some advancements by doing too much machine work. For example, instead of using a regular squat rack, I use the Smith machine.

    Thanks in advance.
    For MOST people, given their goals, the fact that you are working out will give you good results.

    There are two main advantages free weights have over machines:

    Free weights cause a greater "NMA" or nuero-muscular activation-basically, your nervous system becames more "excited" or stimulated through free weight movements, causing greater effect. It is as if your body takes the movement more seriously, and reacts accordingly.

    Free weights also cause you to work the "stabilizing" muscles during and movement. This causes greater joint stability and overall development.

    That being said, some machines isolate areas that are difficult to hit with free weights, so they are a valuble adjunct to free weight moves.

    If you are not interested in MAXIMUM size and development, then machines may be fine for you. Use whatever suits your temperament/goals given the information provided.

    Hope this helps.
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  9. #9
    Registered User ATrainer's Avatar
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    I prefer cables, as you get most of the benefits from both, and can manipulate leverage disadvantage better.
    www.revised-training.com
    Training got better
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    Banned hyp3r3xt3nsion's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Five
    The difference between the smith machine and a free weight bench press is significant in terms of overall gains. There are several important neurological factors at play here:

    balance proprioception: In every exercise you do there is an element of balance, or to put it more technically a feedback loop that constantly adjusts recruitment of agonist, antagonist and synergists in order to maintain the desired output. This is a facet of the CNS, so it's centrally controlled and can be improved by using primarily free weight exercises, and even more so by using CKCE exercise, closed kinetic chain exercises. Squats on the smith machine would be a very seriously bad idea, as squatting is THE exercise which improves balance proprioception to the greatest extent. For bench press it's less of a concern, but it's still a concern.
    Other than the effect on the CNS, the fact is that using EMG study and simply common sense, a free weight bench press recruits more muscle fibres it's as simple as that. The body does not and cannot hypertrophy on the scale of an individual muscle, the synergists of that muscle must also hypertrophy or the body would be in a constant state of imbalance and injury.

    force proprioception: force proprioception is another attribute that operates both peripherally and centrally, and boils down to this, how heavy does an exercise feel and in what is the specific adaption required to deal with that force? Many people erroneously think that the squat is the king of exercises because of hormone release, which obviously is completely wrong, the actual amount or change in hormone release whilst squatting is insignificant. If you want to release a lot of test go to bed, if you want to release a lot of GH go do some endurance training. The real power of squatting is that as a load bearing exercise is has an extremely strong effect on the force proprioception of the CNS.
    Although you may be able to apply a RPE (rating of percieved effort) of 100% to both smith bench and free weight bench, or in other words you will be pushing with everything you have for both exercises. The actual response of the body will be quite different given the demands of the exercise. It just isn't true that load is load is load no matter what the source is, the body can tell a cable from a free weight from a machine.

    In terms of injury I don't believe that it matters, it's not WHAT you do it's HOW you do it that determines injury rates. The body can adapt to cope with almost anything.
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