As strength training gains popularity, more and more people are asking: Which is better, weight machines or free weights? Opinions vary, so let’s look at how each lifting technique benefits your body. Then you can choose which method will get you closer to your goals.
Benefits of Free Weights
One goal of weightlifting is to get stronger, and you will get stronger more quickly with exercises that use the most muscles and joints during each exercise. Balancing and bracing your body while you lift is strength training, too. Free weights combine these components for maximum gains!
- Free weights use normal human movement patterns to strengthen your muscles using natural movements. You move in three dimensions: forward, backward, horizontally, and vertically. That means you’ll be stronger during your daily life, standing, lifting, and squatting.
- For example, in a squat, you use your arms and core to stabilize weight on your back. Then your hips and legs lift the weight, strengthening your glutes, hips, legs, and back.
- During any free weight exercise, you’ll be using and strengthening multiple muscle groups to maintain balance throughout your free weight lift.
Benefits of Weight Machines
Weight machines target specific muscles and muscle groups by isolating and working these muscles. You move in one or two planes, unlike the natural movement of free weights.
- Targeting muscle groups allows lifters to gain size and strength in areas that are especially weak or need extra attention. They can give a targeted boost, especially for people with deficiencies in certain areas.
- Gym machines can give you a quick workout without a lot of dedicated thought, practice or training which is why many choose to work with machines versus taking the time to learn the primary movements for squat, deadlift and press.
- One caveat: Because weight machines don’t require balance or three-dimensional movement, they offer a less natural workout. If you train exclusively on machines, you could end up stronger but in a much less practical, functional way. And weight machines won’t improve your balance the way free weights will.
Free Weights Trump Machines for Strength Training
In general, you will get stronger faster by using mostly free weights, and this will also build your balance.
Light weights cannot make you strong. It really is that simple. When you make your squat, press, or deadlift a little stronger every time you train, for weeks, months, and even years, your strength and your balance continue to improve. Since small-muscle isolation exercises on machines lack the potential for this type of improvement, your time is better spent under the bar.
Lifters Can Benefit from Chiropractic Care
At King Chiropractic, we offer performance-enhancing services that help you train harder, heal faster, improve coordination and mobility, and reduce inflammation. We can also treat back, neck, muscle, or joint pain and injuries. We can help restore range of motion after an injury or time off.
Call King Chiropractic today at (910) 777-7228 to find out how we can help you achieve your strongest self.