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  1. #1
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    WEEK TWELVE :: Are Free Weights Or Machines Better For Results?

    TOPIC: Are Free Weights Or Machines Better For Results?

    For the week of: January 7th - January 12th.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------

    This is an old question, but one that keeps coming up with new trainers. Should use only use free weights in your quest for muscle growth? Or should you use machines to get the same or better results, but with more safety? Are "old school" dumbbells better than the latest machine technology? Can machines help you target specific muscles better?

    Should you use a combination of free weights and machines? If so, what type of combination? Are there times when one type is better, and other times when the other would be more productive?

    BONUS QUESTIONS:

    What is your favorite free weight exercise? What is your favorite machine exercise? Why?

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Don't discuss any other topic in this section. ONLY discuss the question above.

    The best response will get $50 in credit to use in our online store! The other good responses will be used in an article on the main Bodybuilding.com site, with the poster's forum name listed by it.

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  2. #2
    Registered User ATrainer's Avatar
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    One of the questions commonly asked about resistance training is whether to use free weights or machines. The dilemma that you face is relatively complex. On the one hand, free weights give you a more comprehensive training effect in that many stabilizer muscles are involved. Machines have the benefit of working your target muscle through an alleged optimal range of motion. One other possible benefit is that many machines come with cams that vary the resistance through your muscle's natural strength curve. This cam, used properly, will cause a progressive loading of resistance on the target muscle. Constrained by the necessity of loading bars and cables with undeviating weight, we can't utilize the progressive loading principle with free weight movements. Even worse, I have realized that many, even most free weight movements succumb to what I have termed Regressive loading. Free weights use genetically imposed leverages that we cannot change, this being determined by the length of our bones and the various lengths of our muscle bellies. Our musculoskeletal system is a complex system of levers. A lever system is bound by the laws of nature. The laws of leverage can pose a threat to the principles of muscular overload.

    The laws of leverage consist of simple arithmetic. A lever contains three components; a fulcrum or balance point, a resistance, and a force that either pushes or pulls the lever. The distances and placements of these three components in relation to each other determine the degree of leverage advantage or disadvantage. Resistance always pulls in the direction of gravity, or with cables, in the direction of the pulley (displaced gravity). To place our muscles in a state of overload, it is in our best interest to utilize movements that place our muscles at the greatest leverage disadvantage possible without risking injury.

    One of the best examples of regressive loading I know is preacher curls. With gravity as point zero, the preacher curl starts out at around 35-40 degrees. Regression starts at around 135 degrees. The preacher curl moves to around 180 and sometimes 200 degrees where you totally lose the resistance to the bicep. That gives you 100-110 degrees of useful range, and about 40-50 degrees of wasted range and unwanted rest from the resistance. The best thing to do is use the vertical face of a preacher bench. Your humerus must remain absolutely vertical through the entire movement. Proper range would start @5-10 degrees, and end no higher than 140 degrees. This gives you around 130 degrees of useful range where you move toward a leverage disadvantage, without rest. Efficiency achieved . . . and yes, it is extremely difficult; It's supposed to be or it wouldn't work.

    By avoiding regressive loading, we can make isotonic movements that much better. In order to avoid regressive loading, you must rethink the orientation of each exercise in relation to the pull of gravity. It is possible to rework many free weight movements and effectively eliminate the regression of the resistance. Those free weight movements that can attain this I prefer to keep in my routine. However, many are inherently doomed to the regression or even total loss of the resistance to the working muscles. I don’t waste my time on them.

    My training has evolved with a tendency toward machines as I have sought to eliminate regressive loading. Machines serve to support my body as I do various movements. One of my techniques is enhanced by support of the movement’s fulcrum. This sacrifices some of the benefit of working stabilizing muscles, but the tradeoff in efficiency to the target muscle is well worth it.

    Many brands of machines don’t let me accomplish the technical precision I demand from my exercises, so I can’t say that machines in general are good. There are many pieces of equipment that I refer to as paperweights. A machine that can allow me to incorporate my techniques is very effective at working the targeted muscle. When I use such a machine, it lets me work a muscle so completely that I can accomplish muscular overload; and then I go on to another target muscle. That is how I can overwhelm my muscles with one or two exercises.

    I have found that cables are extremely effective at creating ranges of motion that progressively load the resistance, and even better, place my muscle in the worst leverage disadvantage possible. An added benefit is the use of the stabilizing muscles that free weights incorporate. Since I can pull a cable from any direction I need, I can adjust my body position to be supported against the resistance, and still allow a completely resisted range of motion for the movement. Theoretically, I could develop a whole routine that would rely exclusively on cables. They are that effective. Cables allow for the complete elimination of any regressive loading. The addition of various pieces of supportive benches has the potential of creating perfect movements.

    So when the old debate about which is better, machines or free weights, comes up, you better have an understanding of the regressive loading principle to back up your argument; or you will probably be wrong.

    Favorite free-weight : Trap shrugs because they actually work
    Machine : Lat shrugs on a lat machine because my biceps don't get in the way
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  3. #3
    Consistency + Knowledge BodySculpting's Avatar
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    Free Weights are King!

    Originally Posted by admin
    TOPIC: Are Free Weights Or Machines Better For Results?

    For the week of: January 7th - January 12th.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------

    This is an old question, but one that keeps coming up with new trainers. Should use only use free weights in your quest for muscle growth? Or should you use machines to get the same or better results, but with more safety? Are "old school" dumbbells better than the latest machine technology? Can machines help you target specific muscles better?

    Should you use a combination of free weights and machines? If so, what type of combination? Are there times when one type is better, and other times when the other would be more productive?

    BONUS QUESTIONS:

    What is your favorite free weight exercise? What is your favorite machine exercise? Why?

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Don't discuss any other topic in this section. ONLY discuss the question above.

    The best response will get $50 in credit to use in our online store! The other good responses will be used in an article on the main Bodybuilding.com site, with the poster's forum name listed by it.

    Thanks!
    Bodybuilding.com
    The only exercises that provide the best and fastest results are free weight basic exercises. You will never find a professional bodybuilder whose routine is centered around machines, its not going to happen. The reason for this is that exercises done with free weights recruit the most muscle while you are executing them. The resistance is always on when using barbells and dumbbells. Furthermore, our bodies aren't meant to be two dimensional. We are three dimensional beings in a three dimensional universe. Machines limit our muscles to a two dimensional workout, while free weights gives us that three dimensional look by helping the muscles develop from different angles. We can't forget that the best bodies are symmetrical, and a muscle developed proportionately from every angle and in accordance with other muscles is the key to being symmetrical. Point blank; you will not get the same results from using machines. Machines are what people with very little knowledge on proper Bodybuilding base their routine on. They are what make the big, expensive, commercial gyms look appealing to novices.

    An excuse for the usage of machines by some people is that they are “safer.” First off, one thing must be clarified: if you believe weight training with free weights isn’t safe you obviously do not follow correct training procedure! Of course free weights will be dangerous if you are trying to hoist weights that are too heavy for you and that after four or five reps you are struggling to continue with! Train smart and you will see that the “dangers” of weight training are VERY minimal and rare.

    Does this mean machines are worthless? Not by a long shot. Machines are great tools for variety in our training and for isolating certain muscles. For example, in addition to the classic Squat, we can add leg extensions to isolate and target our Quadriceps. Machines definitely have a place in any weight training regime, but for the best and optimal results, free weights are King. Therefore, machines should not make up more than 10-15% of your total workout routine, if that. They should be used sparingly, but not ignored completely because again, they can help target and isolate some muscles in a way that free weights just can’t.

    Personally, my workouts consist of 95% free weight exercises. When I use machines it will usually be for my legs or back and are used very little. My favorite free weight exercise is the Incline Bench press. It is the first exercise in my chest routine and I love how it works my upper chest. Developing a strong upper chest gives the illusion that you have a large chest in general, and the Incline Bench press is a great way to achieve that illusion. As for my favorite machine exercise, it will definitely have to be the Low-Pulley Rows. I think it’s a great addition right after a heavy set of one-arm rows.
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  4. #4
    Train smarter, not harder $AJ's Avatar
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    "
    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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  5. #5
    Squats traps to grass Defiant1's Avatar
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    Very simple answer

    Scientifically proven by the Bulgarians (who devoted their entire state funded sports budget to olympic lifting research)

    Exercises with a higher NMA factor or Neuro muscular activation are better for development-

    From best to worst-

    Moving the body through space (chins, dips, squats)
    Free weight compound exercises
    Free weight isolation exercises
    Machine compounds (non variable resistance)
    Machine isolations (non variable resistance)
    Variable resistance compounds
    Variable resistance isolation

    Not that machines don't have their uses, but for overall growth/strength choose free weight exercises.
    Last edited by Defiant1; 01-07-2005 at 01:39 PM.
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  6. #6
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    To say one is better then the other is heresay; it will never be proved because all of our bodies respond differently. If one style was proved to be better then the other, they gyms across the world would only use that one style.
    It is all personal preference in my opinion, and I found it best to use machines, free weights, and my own body weight (pullups, pushups etc) together for a solid routine. My gains will be my proof
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  7. #7
    fukctional strength MattyG's Avatar
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    Free weights
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  8. #8
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    Originally Posted by Defiant1
    Very simple answer

    Scientifically proven by the Bulgarians (who devoted their entire state funded sports budget to olympic lifting research)

    Exercises with a higher NMA factor or Neuro muscular activation are better for development-

    From best to worst-

    Moving the body through space (chins, dips, squats)
    Free weight compound exercises
    Free weight isolation exercises
    Machine compounds (non variable resistance)
    Machine isolations (non variable resistance)
    Variable resistance compounds
    Variable resistance isolation

    Not that machines don't have their uses, but for overall growth/strength choose free weight exercises.

    Actually, I like machine compounds more than free weight isolations. Smith machine compounds I find are better than free weight isolation. Just my opinion.
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  9. #9
    Looks Like Chris Benoit musclemidget's Avatar
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    If I had to choose one or the other to use the rest of my life, I'd definitely go with free weights seeing as most growth is induced by heavy compound joint movements that are usually done with free weights. But, like everything in this life, the best choice would be a balance of the two. Some exercises are best performed with free weights such as squats, deadlifts, db presses, etc. Sure, they have machines that mimic the movements of these exercises, but this equipment makes the weight move in a set path therefore eliminating the need to recruit the number of stablizer muscles worked when using free weights. And, of course, there are some exercises that are best done with machines. Take preacher curls for example: when you do them with free weights, there is little stress on the biceps at the top of the movement but when using a machine, the cable is always pulling back and providing constant resistance. Other exercises that are best performed on machines to ensure constant resistance would be flyes, lateral raises, etc. And don't forget that some movements can't be done without machines such as tricep pressdown, seated rows, weighted crunches, leg extension/curl, just to name a few.

    Overall, free weights should be used for the majority of exercises in a workout with machines coming into play when they better suit the bill.
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  10. #10
    Registered User monsterashu's Avatar
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    Free weights or machines

    WHICH ONE IS THE MOST RESULT ORIENTED: FREE WEIGHTS OR MACHINES?

    A. FREE WEIGHTS
    B. MACHINES
    C. A COMBINATION OF BOTH
    D. DEPENDENT UPON WHICH RESULT AN INDIVIDUAL WANT TO ACHIEVE.


    Though many people will constantly argue about each choice of the question above but I have a gut feeling that the most probable and correct choice will be D i.e. DEPENDENT UPON WHICH RESULT AN INDIVIDUAL WANT TO ACHIEVE. And I can prove it too using least technical terms. So read on…
    There are innumerable articles over there in web and they all have varied opinions on choosing free weights or machines or both for achieving considerable gains. Even there is a debate on using free weights or only bodyweight exercises. There is a report about a man crippled from heavy weight training in the book FORGET THE WEIGHTS, FORGET THE CARDIO by Matt Furey (www.mattfurey.com) who stresses on doing only bodyweight exercises.
    Now I will give u a comparison of free weights and machines:

    1.In terms of user-friendliness free weights are usually available and requires minimum space but they require spotters for some evolutions while in latter case though spotters are not usually needed but for using it we must have access to sophisticated equipment.
    2.In case of skill, free weights require more skill than exercise machines.
    3.The type of movement in case of free weights is dynamic but limited range of motion is there in case of exercise machines.
    4.Free weights allow for a variety of exercises and they are useful for correcting strength imbalances in both sides of the body while exercise machines provide variable resistance though availability of equipment may limit variety.
    5.The application in case of free weights is for primary as well as peripheral muscles while exercise machines tend to isolate muscles.

    So a better plan is to use both of these for major gains. These are provided in all major gyms etc and if you cannot afford to one then better go for free weights.
    Every coin has two sides so free weights and exercise machines have got both their advantages and disadvantages. You have to embrace their advantages but you have to walk with their disadvantages too.
    So for choosing free weights or machines or both, firstly you should determine your goal. There are bodybuilders, powerlifters, athletes, mma fighters, defence personnels, fitness enthusiasts, working men or women etc all of which have different goals.
    Bodybuilders want hypertrophy, powerlifters want strength, athletes want quickness, endurance and agility, defence personnel wants a weight training regimen which can produce a gain in overall strength and operational tasks, fighters or wrestlers want strength with agility , fitness enthusiasts want to be look fit and fine etc. Pardon me if I have missed some of the goals of any of these above. There are also working men and women who slog for 8-12 hours a day in their companies who also like to stay fit and the major portion of the population is comprised of these working men and women who works for their companies and sometimes do not find time for their fitness purposes.
    Many Corporate houses like Microsoft, Infosys, Accenture Technologies have got built in state of the art gymnasiums for their employees comprising of both free weights and exercise machines. Once I visited Infosys Technologies to meet a friend of mine and saw him doing machine-based exercises. He told me that exercise on machines looks safer to him and when he works on them he get rid of all tensions of the job etc. He told me that there all people
    works on machine based exercises only. I had a chat with some other employee and he said that he finds machines to be operationally easy to work on and he works on them to get rid of stress and fatigue. So these working professionals wanted result in terms of reducing stress and they are quite successful too in this regard. Anyways free weights may have got them similar or better results too but as they have got results by using exercise machines so it is good for them to use it.
    I mean to say that this question of using free weights or machines is based on what result are you expecting. If you get rid of stress, tension etc it is proven that weight training whether using free weights or exercise machines can help in reducing it.
    If one has the goal of improving physical fitness, then one needs to use his/her body intelligently. Physical fitness is not just about pumping iron or looking sexy or athletic. One needs to build a close relationship between the mind and body.
    Research in exercise psychology says that if you spend 10 minutes daily just thinking about exercising your muscles you are likely to improve their performance by 13 percent or more in a few weeks. Scientists say that all muscle movements happen in response to impulses from nearby nerves called motor neurons, which listen to thoughts. That means your thoughts can command your muscles. And we know that everybody responds differently to exercises so if anyone is training smart and has full mind-body coordination then he can get the results he desires by incorporating free weights, exercise machines or bodyweight exercises in his training regimen.
    I would like to add an extract that I found on www.chirofind.com.
    “A study in the Journal of Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy compared free weights with weight machines to determine which form of training produced the greatest strength and power gains in the lower body. Sixteen men and eight women performed progressive weight training exercises twice a week for six weeks using free weights (barbell squats) or weight machines (knee extensions and hip adduction).
    Strength gains were evaluated at the end of the six-week period by way of three tests Significant improvements were seen in both groups in barbell squat, vertical jump, and knee extension tests, with slightly greater strength gains taking place in subjects participating in the free-weight program.”
    So, both of these have got their advantages and disadvantages. Free weights place resistance on both the working muscle as well as stabilizing muscle whereas in the case of machines, they take the task to stabilize you. Free weights has natural plane of motion while exercise machines have got a fixed and rigid plane. Also most machines provide two kind of resistance: Rotary resistance and Balanced Resistance. You find rotary resistance in machine curl in which resistance is place on the muscle throughout whole motion. Also in a barbell curl (free weights) , it is easier to perform at the start and it gets heavy in midrange while in machine curl, the load is balanced and you find the resistance to be heavier at the start. Machines can be used if you are training alone and beginners find it quite easy to go for machines. So the question of using free weights or machines lie in the middle i.e. use both and train smartly with proper form to reap benefits.
    And whatever result you want, you can get it from using mind and body effectively.
    There are various videos and pictures available on www.bodybuilding.com from which you can learn proper form. And if you are a beginner, then do read Big Cat’s articles on this website.

    REMEMBER SOMETHING IS BETTER THAN NOTHING and it applies to free weights and machines too

    Bonus Tip for all Viewers:
    You can get all the results desired if you have mind muscle coordination in an effective manner. Whether you use machines or free weights or bodyweight exercisesyou can enhance your results by using this tip. This method described below will enhance your mind-body coordination such that you will gain from your every workout but you have to train smartly and using proper form. Basically, this method will enhance your mind-body relationship. You will not find it in this tweaked and proper form anywhere though this method is old and it is there in ancient scriptures but I have tweaked it to realize my bodybuilding dreams and it works. Believe me.
    This method is called Yoga Nidra.
    The method:
    § Turn off the light and take a deep breath and relax.
    § Take your Comfortable position ( I prefer lying but you can sit if you can find it more comfortable) and close your eyes.
    § Take a deep breath for 4 times and relax your body.
    § Countdown from 100 to 1.
    § 100,99,.............. (Suggest yourself) I am . . . relaxing my . . .body and my . . . . . . .soul
    § Start relaxing from legs to head.
    1. Command your feet to relax (take your time and actually feel them
    relaxing).
    2. Command your ankles to relax.
    3. Command your calves to relax (feel the muscles in your calves relaxing).
    4. Command your knees to relax.
    5. Command your thighs to relax (feel every muscle in your thighs
    relaxing).
    6. Command your stomach to relax (feel your stomach muscles relaxing).
    7. Command your chest muscles to relax ( feel them relaxing).

    8. Command your shoulders to relax (feel them relaxing).
    9. Command your upper arms to relax.
    10. Command your elbows to relax.
    11. Command your forearms to relax.
    12. Command your wrists to relax.
    13. Command your hands to relax (feel each finger and joint in your hands
    relaxing).
    14. Command your lower back to relax.
    15. Command your upper back to relax (feel all the muscles in your upper
    and lower back relaxing).
    16. Command all the muscles in the back of your neck to relax (feel them relaxing).
    17. Command the back of your head and scalp to relax.
    18. Command all the muscles in your face to relax (feel your eyes, mouth,
    cheeks, etc. relaxing).

    (continued in next post as word limit has exceeded)
    Last edited by monsterashu; 01-09-2005 at 10:48 AM.
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  11. #11
    Registered User monsterashu's Avatar
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    Free weights or machines......(continued from last post)

    ..................continued from last post........


    19. Command your entire body to relax (actually feel all your muscles, joints,
    nerves and mind totally relax).
    § Now make your own sankalpa (Auto suggestions). For example if you want to improve your chest muscles. Just see your chest muscles in your mind’s eye and Say yourself "I am in Yoga Nidra, I feel free, My mind filled with joy and self confidence, I can do anything, My chest muscles has improved a lot. I am seeing remarkable improvement in my body" and now visualize your ideal body.
    § Say the autosuggestion with full concentration for 15 minutes.
    Do this practice two times daily to achive one goal. You can see the result with in 15 days. Result depends upon your Sankalpa and faith. If you believe it, you can do it.
    (Sankalpa means auto suggestion)
    I am not going offbeat , it will really help you achieve your goals and the results. It’s the power of yoga. After sometime , you will feel the muscle in your mind and while doing workouts your mind-muscle coordination will be very high. So the results using free weights or machines or both will be quite high...........

    BONUS QUESTION:- My favourite machine exercise is full range pulldowns. It is pulldowns+ cable rows. Through it I get the benefit of Pulldowns and cable rows and it provides an extremely strong contraction in the back. The technique used is as follows:
    1. Use any grip and do a pulldown to the bottom position.
    2. Now you have to hold the weight in space and lean your upper body back and down until its horizontal.
    3. Now continue the pulldown movement as a bottom movement and squeeze hard at the top.
    4. Come back up in one smooth motion.

    For this exercise's full pictures, method ,video and common errors etc you can see the book “ The best exercises you’ve never heard of” by BetterU Inc. and sponsored by Bodybuilding.com.
    It works entire range of motion of lats.

    My favourite free weight exercise is Goodmornings. It strengthens lowerback, hamstrings and glutes. Lower back muscle is used in various exercises like squats, deadlifts etc to name a few. It strengthens lowerback and I see good progress in my hamstring development too.

    One great tip i want to give to the viewers is that" MOVE YOUR BODY,NOT THE WEIGHT" ( Thanks BigCat for your great articles you made my foundation in bodybuilding)

    I would also like to add that you may hear a lot of training theories in which you mayhear that the one exercise which you are doing is a total crap and wouldnot yield any result. Dont feel discouraged by reading that. You will see your results if you believe in yourself. Many theories donot work as they state and sometimes that thing works which you will find just crazy.

    I have not given here any training theory or physics of machines or any angular measurements because of the fact that these kind of things donot take place in real life.I ask all of you that when you go to gym then do you measure all the angles of the machine on which you are going to have a workout.I know your answer is NO.

    All respond differently to resistance training. By doing resistance training, it is you whose body is undergoing changes. You have to train smartly using proper form and incorporating safety with mind-muscle coordination and then no one will be able to defeat you........What works for me will not work for you. So listen to your body and make necessary changes as required.Also I would like to hear about your results using yoga-nodra exercise. You can read about that in various books of Yoga or Pranayama or just search on google about it. Though its major use is in relaxation but by using my tweaked up form, you can see remarkable achievements in your physique.
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    References: 1.www.bodybuilding.com
    2. www.chirofind.com
    3. “The best exercises you’ve never heard of” by BetterU Inc.
    4. http://www.questformuscle.com
    5. ‘Forget the weights, forget the cardio” by Matt Furey.
    6. “Pranayama Rahasya” by Swami Ramdev
    7. Augustsson J, Esko A, Thomee R, et al. Weight training of the thigh muscles using closed vs. open kinetic chain exercises: a comparison of performance enhancement. Journal of Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy, 1998, vol.27/no.1, pp5-8.
    Last edited by monsterashu; 01-09-2005 at 01:36 PM.
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    Registered User Audioslave's Avatar
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    Free weights versus machines is a common argument and a very important one. Both are effective, but serve different purposes. I'm going to exaimine free weights and machines- the differences, and the similarities. I will then discuss which is more useful for bodybuilding.

    Free Weights

    Free weights is how weight lifting began. It's made up of dumbells and barbells. It is the most simple idea and possibly the best idea.

    Why are the pros of free weights?
    Well, when using free weights you are stablizing the weight, which will force you to use other little muscles that you didn't know you were using. The person is the only thing supporting the weight. It's only the human and the weight. There is no string, attatchments or anything to help. This is a great feature because more of your muscles are being worked. YOU are the only one moving and controlling the weight, which makes it harder and MORE EFFECTIVE. Another great feature of free weights is it can duplicate sport activities. An example of this is how I shadow box. When I shadow box I use two dumbells (free weights) and punch in front of a mirror. This help increase my speed and strength in my arms and shoulders. This advantage is very important for athletes who want to increase their performance.

    What are the cons of free weights?
    Free weights are great to workout with, but they will leave you more prone to getting injured. Like I said before, stablizing the weight will make you use more muscles throughout your body, but it can also leave you injured. Because of this you MUST use proper form. You must always concentrate on what you are doing. You have to fight the momentum on the negative. If you move to fast and don't pay close attention to your form you can go past your normal range of motion and end up with a bad injury. Free weights can also be hard on your joints (I learned this the hard way). This is why you MUST focus on form and control the weight. When using free weights serious injuries can come from dropping the weight on yourself. Their have been deaths of people benching and dropping the weight on them. This is a serious issue. When using free weights a spotter is a great idea to prevent serious injuries.

    Machines

    Machines are a newer way of building ones body. They have become very popular for people who want to workout at home.

    What are the pros of machines?
    Using a machine you don't have to worry about a 300lb barbell falling on you. Machine are very safe. Most machines will lock the weight for you and stop it from falling on you. Most of them will also keep you in a standard range of motion, therefore you will have less of a chance of pulling a muscle or creating any other injuries because you won't be going past your limits. Machines will also help you control and stablize the weight. They will help you focus more on a single bodypart. Machines are best used for beginners because it helps them get used to the proper form of the exercise without getting hurt.

    What are the cons of machines?
    Machines can be costly and break. A cheap machine may not last very long. A peice can break, a wire can snap etc. A machine puts you in an awkward range of motion. It's not a natural range of motion and therefore you won't be using all of your muscles to stablize the weight. Many machines are also easily outgrown. As you progress a machine just own't do the trick for you anymore.

    So what's better?
    In my opinion free weights are better. They are cheap, you cannot outgrow them, and they have more variety of exercises. Machines are good to add into a workout routine, but free weights are the basis of a strength training regimen. I really don't think you can get a really good body in a decent time without free weights. Free weights deliver better and quicker results.
    Free weights are old school, and they worked well. So, if it ain't broken, don't fix it! Overall free weights are going to help you acheive better and faster results.


    BONUS QUESTIONS:

    What is your favorite free weight exercise? What is your favorite machine exercise? Why?

    My favorite free weight exercise is squats. They hit the legs the best and hardest. Squats are also the ultimate exercise for gaining mass. It's a great exercise that can be used for strength and some endurance. No machine could ever duplicate this free weight exercise.

    My favorite machine exercise would be tricep pressdown. I feel that I don't get a good enough tricep workout with just free weights. Plus it adds to the variety of the few good tricep exercises there are.
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    shut the f*** up 'n train secretpro's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by MattyG
    Free weights
    ^^^
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    Free weights vs Machines

    Ever since people started working out, one of the most controversial topics which is still highly debated by gym patrons around the world is the best way to train those muscles. So it actually boils down to one very basic question. Are free weights better or are machines superior? To understand this, one must first understand the basic concepts of both free weights and machines.

    Free weights:
    A combination of both barbells and dumbbells attached onto standards pieces of weights. They are being used on its own without the aid of any form of wiring or pulley system. The only force that is acting on it would have to be gravity itself. The price range of free weights range anywhere from $50 to a few hundred dollars. To use free weights, simply load the bar to a desired weight level and as for dumbbells, just pick up any of the preloaded weights. Since the use of free weights do not involve anything other than the weight and gravity itself, a lot more effort is need to use free weights compared to machines. While using free weights, the user has to do the following or he/she run the risk of injury.
    · Make sure that full concentration is achieved before attempting to lift the weight.
    · Check that all times during the exercise, form is not compromised.
    · Make sure that both the left and right hand sides of the weights are equal.
    · The weight has to be stable and any forms of explosive movements while using the weight will not do you any good
    Advantages:
    1. Free weights are much cheaper compared to machines, so getting a new one every few years is affordable.
    2. Free weights command the use of a series of muscle groups that are very important in building overall strength in that area.
    3. Very useful for someone that is looking to build bulk and overall mass.
    4. They force the body to stabilize the weight thus improving balance and muscle control.
    5. Free weights are very versatile, they can be used in many different ways, unlike machines which you would have to buy many different ones to work the whole body.
    6. A whole new portion of the muscle can be worked just by adjusting the angle and range of the movement.
    7. The intensity of using free weights on sets is much higher compared to machine usage. Even if the weights on the machines are increased, It just gets harder to push without much increase in the intensity.
    8. There is no room for error so the determination by the user to complete the last rep is greatly increased.

    Disadvantages:
    1. Free weights require a lot more skill to operate compared to machines, thus the risk of injury is very high
    2. Since free weights require a lot more skill to operate, it may be difficult for a beginner to grasp the concept of it.
    3. While using free weights there is a tendency to use poor form and cheat when you reach near failure and that can take the focus off training the targeted muscle group.
    4. Requires the usage of a spotter when using heavy weights. And a spotter is not always readily available.
    5.
    6. Using free weights also tend to take much longer to workout compared to machines because of the constant removing and loading of weights. So if you are trying to get a fast workout due to time constraints, free weights will not be able to provide that.

    Machines:
    Involves a mix of handles, bars and wires connected together by a pulley system used to target very specific groups of muscles. They usually come with instructions on the machines and prices can range from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars. To use machines, sit on the machine bench and slot the pin into the many slots with the weight numbers stated beside it

    Advantages:
    1. First and most importantly, Machines are very safe. It allows the user to “bail” at any time upon failure. Unlike free weights, where you run the risk of being buried under the stack of weights.

    2. Saves a lot of time, as the changing of weight only requires the shifting of pin from the slots.

    3. Does not allow the user to cheat. Strict form is maintained throughout the entire exercise. That will greatly reduce the chances of sustaining an injury.

    4. Very easy to use and learn. Great for users that are new to training

    5. Perfect for those who are healing from an injury and just starting to return to training.

    6. Machines are great for isolating a certain muscle, making it a very useful tool in the final touches weeks before a competition.

    Disadvantages:
    1. Because machines make use of the pulley system, no matter what weight you are working with some of the effort will always be supported by the machine itself.

    2. Intensity taken away by machine.

    3. Since the range of motion is not natural, it may not be comfortable for some.

    4. Some people (due to their body size) is not able to fit into the machine. Thus it makes the machine not as versatile as free weights.

    5. The use of machines does not require the use of stabilizing muscles, which is very useful during day-to-day activities.

    6. Needless to say, machines are very expensive


    After all this analysis about the pros and cons, the best way to train is using free weights for most of the times and machines should be used in the event that free weights is unable to mimic the movement or for isolation purposes. For example: Cable exercises. Due to the fact that free weights require a lot more effort and skill because of the various aspects involved which in turn increased the amount of gains experienced, it has proven itself to be superior against the machines.

    Personally I have experienced this on a first hand encounter. During the first few months of my training regime, I started out with exercises that mainly revolved around free weights. Although I had gain a decent amount of muscle mass during the first few months, both strength and size began to come to a crawl after the 6th month of training. That was despite the fact that I still continued to change my routine every once in a while. So I decided to incorporate the usage of free weights for most of my exercises. And almost immediately I began to experience results once again. My strength gains have not stopped since and I feel stronger while doing my day-to-day chores compared to the days where I use machines for most of my workouts.

    Having said that, I still think that what I did during the first few months of my training was right. Because as a beginner I lacked experience and machines was the best choice since it provided such safety and also thought me the proper forms for the various exercises.

    So the ideal way for the quest for muscle growth is the use of machines during the first few months of training and slowing switching to free weights after you familiarize yourself with the various forms and techniques involved. The last thing you would want is to begin with free weight exercises as a beginner and pick up a serious injury that would potentially cause some serious problems. And by the way, picking up a serious injury during the course of training is NOT considered hardcore at all! So for all you beginners out there that think that you have to endure pain and serious injuries to gain muscle, well think again. But bearing in mind that free weights are potentially dangerous, and for most exercises, they require the use of a spotter. If you are unable to find or get a spotter because you workout in your basement gym or for any other reason, machines will have to do.

    Isolating muscle groups:
    But if you are preparing for a competition and want to do the very final touches to your body without increasing the other body parts then machines would be more suitable. Because the use of free weights will force other parts of the body to take part giving you an effect, which is, not desirable

    Final Statement:
    Machines and free weights should be used in combinations. The best combination for this, is to use free weights for times where bulk and strength is the main motive. And machines will come in only in exercises such as cable related ones.
    However if isolation is the main objective then machines can do a better work in that context. So this is the only time where the pure usage of machines would be more productive compared to the usage of free weights.

    Bonus Question:
    My personal favorite free weight exercise is squats. It is so physically and mentally exhausting that if you do squats, it actually separates you from all the losers hanging around in the gym. And not forgetting it gives you legs like a tree trunk.

    My Favorite machine exercise would have to be standing calf raises on the smith machine. Due to the fact that free weights require balance, I am unable to work those calves properly on free weights while standing on a elevated platform and concentrating on the weight at the same time. So this would have to be my favorite machine exercise although I do not really like to use machines.
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    Audere est Facere ravadongon's Avatar
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    Free Weights or Machines, which is superior? The answer may seem obvious to some, but it must be stressed that both have their places and uses in fitness...

    To delve further into the topic, lets look at the plus/minus side of the equation with both free weights and machines (all the different types)

    Free Weights

    Dumbells/Barbells, free from machine support or pulley assistance

    Plus

    - Can fit any size exerciser
    - Large exercise potential (alot you can do)
    - Can work in three planes of motion for greater muscle recruitment
    - Can adjust weights in small increments

    Minus

    - Greater risk of injury
    - High supervision required (including spotters for heavy lifting)
    - Very easy to fall into poor form
    - The hardcore image can intimidate some exercisers

    Bottom Line

    Suitable for all individuals, but may not be best suited to beginning, de-conditioned, or elderly exercisers who have never weight trained before.

    Machines

    Selectorized

    A weight stack held together by a pulley and cable system. It allows the exerciser to select weight manually, often with a pin that is inserted into the weight stack at the desired weight.

    Plus

    - Very easy to learn and use
    - Minimal supervision required (very safe)
    - Defined movement for safety and proper form
    - Variable resistance adapts to natural strength curve

    Minus

    - Can be difficult to maintain proper form on some machines that allow use of two planes of motion
    - Fits the "average" size user

    The Bottom Line

    Suitable for beginning exercisers or those new to strength training

    Plate-Loaded

    Plate-loaded machines are those that require weights to be manually loaded and unloaded, e.g. leg-press machine, smith machine

    Plus

    - Brings safety to a free-weight experience — no spotter is required
    - Replicates "feel" of free weights
    - Many feature independent arm movement, allowing each limb to be exercised alone
    -Allows for heavier training

    Minus

    - Requires user to transport and load weights — may increase risk of injury
    - Fits "average" size user
    - Again like with free weights, the hardcore image may intimidate some exercisers (although not as many as free weights will)

    Conclusion

    Suitable for all levels, but may not be best suited to beginners, de-conditioned, or elderly exercisers who have never weight trained. Fine for athletes and heavy weightlifters.

    Electronic & Pneumatic

    Electronic: Electronically controlled weight assistance with digital controls.

    Pneumatic: Machines that are dependant on air pressure to provide resistance on both eccentric (positive) and concentric (negative) movements.

    Plus

    - Less intimidating — no weights to carry or set up
    - Small weight increments for easier progression
    - Eccentric load training is an option on some machines
    - Simple to adjust weights

    Minus

    - Cost, space, and special electrical or pneumatic requirements
    - Unnatural feel compared to lifting actual weight stacks, barbells, or dumbbells
    - Fits the "average" size user

    The Bottom Line

    Suitable for those who may prefer privacy to strength train, such as the elderly, the de-conditioned, and those new or returning to exercise or experienced lifters who want to conduct heavy negative training.

    Conclusion

    Free-weights, Machines, and Cables should be looked upon as tools in a toolbox. Each has a different purpose, and each is useful in different situations.

    Bonus Question

    Favourite Free Weight Exercise

    The Clean (partial olympic lift). The reason I like this exercise is because of the intensity and usefullness of the exercise. It's a total body exercise and does wonders for your explosive power and speed.

    Favourite Machine Exercise

    This is a tough one, seeing as I don't do many machine exercises these days. But the one exercise I have kept in my program through all the changes I have made is the Standing Calf Raise on the Hack Squat Machine. I like this exercise mostly for it's conveniency. It's safe and still gives my calves a good workover.
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  16. #16
    Shy Gym lover Chris_Seal's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by cobraman1994
    To say one is better then the other is heresay; it will never be proved because all of our bodies respond differently. If one style was proved to be better then the other, they gyms across the world would only use that one style.
    thats the basic answer.....personal prefrence.

    I use a combination of both
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    Big Bulkin' antihero's Avatar
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    i also use a combination of both, but i feel that i get more of a benefit from free weights.
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  18. #18
    Registered User dbmyers's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by MattyG
    Free weights
    he should have been the winner
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  19. #19
    PimpEM'AtoZ PimpEM_atoz's Avatar
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    that yoga **** kind of pissed me off. but ive always been willinig to do new things. i dont think it will speed up my muscle growth but it might make me go to sleep faster at night.
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