Machine_vs_Free_Weights___Hot_Topic - Machine Versus Free...

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Machine Versus Free Weights Jeffrey M. McBride, PhD, CSCS This paper was presented as part of the NSCA Hot Topic Series. All information contained herein is copyright© of the NSCA.
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Hot Topics: Machine Versus Free Weights 2 Introduction A common question among recreational weight trainers is whether to use machine or free-weight exercises. The term “machines” usually refers to resistance training devices that have cables, pin loaded weight stacks or fixed lever arms. Free-weights encompass dumbbells and plates that are typically loaded on to the end of a barbell. Free-weight exercises are performed usually on utility benches or squat racks. The most obvious difference between the two is that free weight lifting better simulates real-life movement patterns. For example, lifting a suitcase or bag of groceries is basically the same as lifting a dumbbell or barbell from the floor of a weight room. This has a desirable effect in that free weights mimic what is called “free-form.” Meaning, lifting a free weight requires the same type of forces and muscle activity that is common to everyday activities and athletic endeavors as well. Machine exercises are less like real life activities in that they supply resistance in a more controlled and coordinated fashion. However, the benefit is that technique becomes less of concern because most the motions are “guided” for the lifter. The lifter simply pushes or pulls the weight and the machine determines the direction the weight will go. Machines also offer the benefit in terms of user friendliness. They typically have pin-loaded weight stacks, comfortable seats and are easy exercises to perform with little or no professional instruction. Let’s examine a couple of issues and challenges facing both free weight and machine exercises. Muscle Hypertrophy The term “muscle hypertrophy” refers to the process by which your muscles grow and get stronger and is commonly one of the most desired effects of lifting weights. In essence, muscles grow in response to the degree of loading placed upon them. So, in reality, it doesn’t really matter how the loading is placed on the muscle just as long as it is sufficient to stimulate the muscle to be active. If muscle hypertrophy is your only concern it probably
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Machine_vs_Free_Weights___Hot_Topic - Machine Versus Free...

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