Monday, April 30, 2018

Machines versus free weights: Is one really better?

What's better -- free weights or machines?

It's an age-old question: What is better for muscular development -- machines or free weights?

You can find people that staunchly entrenched in both camps, repeating the same dogma ad nauseum back and forth at each other. But like with most polarizing topics, the real truth is somewhere in between.

In this case, the truth truly is, they're both great. As long as you perform the exercises slowly with perfect form, both ways of strength training help you accomplish the same end goal, which is to fatigue muscle, causing it to make a positive adaptation in growth and/or strength.

Some in the free weight camp claim you will strengthen your "stabilizing muscles" with free weights, since you don't have the machine keeping your form for you. Unfortunately, this just isn't true. Strength training is a lot simpler than people give it credit for, and fatiguing the muscle in its correct bio mechanical range of motion is all that is needed to get a positive adaptation for the entire muscle.

Machines aren't a perfect workout either though. At Efficient Fitness, we use Nautilus strength training machines, which are well designed around the human body, with anatomy and physiology in mind. This is not always the case with all equipment, and some poorly-designed exercise equipment can even put your body in compromising positions which can lead to injury.

The main reason Efficient Fitness uses exercise machines is safety. We try to eliminate the element of "skill" from the workout. When you come in to workout with us, we want 100 percent of your focus, attention and effort to be on fatiguing your muscles, causing them to adapt and grow to become as genetically strong as possible.

What we DON'T want you to be focusing on is having a barbell come crashing down on your throat, herniating a disk in the middle of a dead lift or balancing dumbbells above your head. By using well-designed machines, it takes all these elements of skill out of the equation, allowing you to focus on what's important: building muscle. The worst thing that can happen during a set at Efficient Fitness is you drop the movement arms and the weight crashes down. Sure, it's a little startling, but you are completely safe the entire time.

The concern that machines won't improve balance, stability or flexibility is just not true. The bigger and stronger your musculature becomes, the more balance, stability and flexibility you have, no matter how you got there. Training on well-designed machines just allows you to get there in the safest, most efficient way possible.

All roads lead to Rome, so you might as well take the freeway.

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