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Machine Weights vs Free Weights

Georgepithyou

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Why does everyone always say free weights are better? Don't machine weights target certain areas that you specifically want to work out? Wouldn't that be better?
 

samspade

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I'm no trainer, but I think the simpler the better. Free weights are as simple as it gets.

Machines are okay, but there are more moving parts. If it hasn't been greased in a while, or pulleys are starting to stretch/wear out, you can feel that it's an awkward movement and not fluid.

Plus I think it's better to work out multiple muscles in an exercise rather than pure iso. The deadlift is probably the best example of this, but even a basic bicep curl is working out more than your bicep.
 

speed dawg

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Building on what others have said here and not wanting to repeat, I'll just ass that machine weights can be used to further isolate, overload and breakdown a muscle after doing a heavy compound lift with free weights. Or for injuries. Beyond that, I don't see their purpose. Maybe for old people and women, who are just trying to get a simple mock workout in and pay money to do it?

And I guess they are acceptable if you're in a hotel or something.
 

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logicallefty

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Free weights force you to use stabilizer muscles, which lower the chance of injury.
I have some old shoulder injuries on both sides from playing high school hockey. I did free weights most of my life after that until I reached my early 40s. I find now that I feel a lot safer doing machines. I can bench 250 easily on a machine now but do not feel safe with that same weight on free weights. Being old sux!!
 

speed dawg

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I have some old shoulder injuries on both sides from playing high school hockey. I did free weights most of my life after that until I reached my early 40s. I find now that I feel a lot safer doing machines. I can bench 250 easily on a machine now but do not feel safe with that same weight on free weights. Being old sux!!
Of course not. You have to lower the weight and allow your stabilizer muscles to catch up. Having the discipline to do that is hard, I will say that. Most people want to go for the weight.

Big, strong muscle mass and underdeveloped tendons/ligaments are a recipe for disaster. Sure you can probably avoid the injuries while you are lifting weights (by doing the machines), but the injuries will happen in real life activities.
 

Lookatu

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I have some old shoulder injuries on both sides from playing high school hockey.
You have to lower the weight and allow your stabilizer muscles to catch up. Having the discipline to do that is hard, I will say that. Most people want to go for the weight.
This is exactly what I'm doing because I hurt both my rotator cuff's and want to avoid any invasive surgeries that aren't 100% guaranteed.
I've learned to do lighter dumbell weights with more reps and slower movement to make up for it.
People that see me assume I'm doing heavier weights based on my physique but in actuality my weights are pretty low but it protects me from future injuries as I age.
 

B80

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Depends on machines, the ones that have closer to free weights movement are OK. Problem with a lot of machines is you're fixed in a plane of movement which may not be great for your body, limb length etc which could lead to issues over time.

If your gym has decent selection of free weights I wouldn't use machines much, apart from the odd exercise at the end
 

Bible_Belt

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Sand bag workouts are like free weights squared. The bag shifts against you, making you use even more stabilizer and minor muscle groups. Wrestlers do a lot of partner carries in training. A person is similar to a sand bag as a weight to lift.
 

rart

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Get your smith machine squat to 3 plates, pat yourself on the back, get into the squat rack with 3 plates and watch yourself fail at the first rep.
 

darksprezzatura

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Just my opinion, I'm by no means a professional bodybuilder.

It's better to use machines than free weights for exercises with potential for shoulder or back injuries.

Examples: Row machine, shoulder press machine, leg press.

Sure, free weights are great. Those stabiliser muscles can be trained separately.

Don't just follow what everyone else says. Utilise the equipment in the gym.
 

B80

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Just my opinion, I'm by no means a professional bodybuilder.

It's better to use machines than free weights for exercises with potential for shoulder or back injuries.

Examples: Row machine, shoulder press machine, leg press.

Sure, free weights are great. Those stabiliser muscles can be trained separately.

Don't just follow what everyone else says. Utilise the equipment in the gym.
I agree as long as its decent equipment that suits your body structure or mimics free weight movements.

Too many machines have fixed planes of motion and can cause you issues over time.

Particularly on areas as intricate as shoulders.

Learn decent form with free weights and there's less potential for injury compared to many machines in commercial gyms.
 

Espi

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Get your smith machine squat to 3 plates, pat yourself on the back, get into the squat rack with 3 plates and watch yourself fail at the first rep.
I'll take a set of 20 reps at 135 lbs. done ass-to-grass.

I always do my squats via the Smith machine, and, as part of a 6-set series, I never exceed 225 lbs. for 10 reps.

For me, the key is DEPTH (whether done via the Smith or free weights). I've seen many knuckleheads loading the bar to 315 lbs. and squatting very half-assedly.
 

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This is exactly what I'm doing because I hurt both my rotator cuff's and want to avoid any invasive surgeries that aren't 100% guaranteed.
I've learned to do lighter dumbell weights with more reps and slower movement to make up for it.
People that see me assume I'm doing heavier weights based on my physique but in actuality my weights are pretty low but it protects me from future injuries as I age.
I have some old shoulder injuries on both sides from playing high school hockey. I did free weights most of my life after that until I reached my early 40s. I find now that I feel a lot safer doing machines. I can bench 250 easily on a machine now but do not feel safe with that same weight on free weights. Being old sux!!
damn shoulder injuries suck , i popped mine out a couple years back, got into a fight last year and it popped again
 

rjc149

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Cable machines are totally fine, as are plate machines where the rep movement occurs along a defined track.

I pretty much just do maintenance lifting with the big upper body compounds -- lat pulldown, seated row, and some form of chest press. All can be done effectively on cable machines or a Smith rack. Isolation/sculpting lifts with free weights were a part of my 20's, I've since ditched them.

Machines also don't require me to ask for and use a spotter, which breaks my focus.
 

rart

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I'll take a set of 20 reps at 135 lbs. done ass-to-grass.

I always do my squats via the Smith machine, and, as part of a 6-set series, I never exceed 225 lbs. for 10 reps.

For me, the key is DEPTH (whether done via the Smith or free weights). I've seen many knuckleheads loading the bar to 315 lbs. and squatting very half-assedly.
Ok, get your smith machine squat with depth below parallel up to 3 plates. Recover. Attempt a 3 plate squat with a barbell in a squat rack to the depth of below parallel. See yourself fail at the first rep.

Another aspect of barbell training that most people overlook is it's effects beyond strength. It builds neuromuscular efficiency and mental fortitude that is especially beneficial for older people. Machines do not do that.
 

Espi

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@rart I'm not convinced that you're in a position to advise me on anything pertaining to fitness and/or "mental fortitude."

You got photos? Let's see if you can back it up.

I'll start first. I've attached 2 photos of me.
 

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christie

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superb definition in your upper arms, keep up the good work
 
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