There's a huge debate going on about which is better for building muscle and strength.
Is it machines? Is it free weights? Both?
The top trainers and coaches in the world argue that free weights are better while others argue that machines are better.
I'm going to put an end to that debate today.
Are machines better than free weights for building muscle and strength? Are free weights better?
Which one would you choose if you wanted to build the maximum amount of muscle and strength in the shortest period of time?
You can only choose one. Which one would you choose?
Which One Would You Choose?
I hope you went with free weights. Free weights are superior to machines for building muscle and strength. Now, this doesn't mean that machines won't build muscle and strength because they do.
Machines work very well at building muscle and strength when used properly.
Do machines really build muscle and strength?
Short answer is yes.
You will build muscle and strength with any method that allows you to progress in the amount of weight you lift or resistance that you apply to a muscle.
Machines that allow you to apply more resistance to a muscle over time will increase the size and strength of that muscle.
But, free weights work better for building muscle and strength than machines.
More on Free Weights Versus Machines…
Free weights require that you use a greater amount of muscle mass to lift the weight, balance the weight, and stabilize the weight.
With machines, you only have to lift the weight. You don't have to balance or stabilize the weight. The machine does that for you. So, free weights work a greater amount of muscle mass than machines.
With machines, the muscles that stabilize and balance the weight never get worked. If you use machines exclusively for long periods of time, you never work those very important muscles that stabilize and balance the weight. This can lead to injury.
That is why I always choose and recommend free weight exercises over machine exercises.
You work more muscle mass, get more muscle building potential, and prevent future injuries with free weights. But that's not all…
Machines also lock you into one plane of motion. Some machine movements just aren't natural for many people. A machine that works well for one person will not work well for another. You will never have that problem with free weights.
Choosing the Natural Range of Motion versus a Fixed Range of Motion
With free weights, you use your natural range of motion. You aren't locked into any plane of motion.
I once used a Leg Press Machine many years ago during my beginner weight lifting stages. I heard that it was a great machine for building muscle and strength in the legs. No matter what I tried with that machine, it always hurt my knees. The machine just didn't fit me.
I stopped using it after several attempts… if I knew more then, I would have stopped after the first rep.
If you do decide to use machines for building muscle, always ensure that you do not use them exclusively — always include some free weight exercises. Make sure the machine fits you. If it doesn't feel right, don't use it.
Mix in some free weight exercises for a given muscle group along with the machine exercises you decide to use. This ensures that the stabilizer muscles are also getting worked.
Now you know the truth about free weights versus machines for building muscle, strength, and preventing injury.
When you have a choice between the two, always opt for free weights. If you want a change, sub in a machine exercise for a cycle but follow the rules I've outlined in this section.
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