When you go to any gym for a workout, you have a wide array of both free weights and machines that you can use for your workouts.
So which is better:a workout with free weights or a workout using machines?
I’ll cover both angles here and lay out a plan for you to use for any muscle group to get the best results combining the two.
Free weights exercises
Regardless of what you’re working out, I recommend incorporating free weights into your routine.
One really important reason for this is because when you use free weights for lifting, you and your muscles control then entire weight.
When you have to control the weight in a 3-dimensional space, other muscles (called “stabilizing muscles”) have to help you support the weight and control the movement.
This helps you work more muscles than just the ones you’re trying to target with that lift, which in turn adds more ‘practical’ strength.
The downside to this is that because you’re working more muscles trying to balance the weight, the stabilizing muscles may fatigue faster than the muscle you’re really trying to work, which makes the lift less effective overall.
Workouts with exercise machines
When you’re working out with exercise machines, the machine does most (if not all) of the stabilizing work for you, so you only really work the target muscle.
This ensures that you do fully target the muscle you want to work out, but as a downside you don’t work any other muscle group (including the stabilizing muscles).
Where this gives you more precision with muscle building, but may lead to less practical muscle strength overall.
Which one to use for best results?
Because exercise machines target the right muscle group so well, they’re best used towards the end of your workouts.
The reason is simple: as you lift and your muscles get more fatigued, keeping the correct form becomes harder and you tend to “cheat”.
Exercise machines guide your lift and keep the form for you, so you can burn out the target muscles more effectively each workout.
It’s not bad if you only workout with exercise machines oronly workout with free weights.
But, you’ll get a lot more out of your lifts by combining the two in a way that works more muscles, works the targeted muscle more effectively, and helps you keep proper form when burning that muscle out.
The next time you use this strategy in the gym, come back here and let me know how it went!