Free Weights or Machines??
Training with free weight is the preferred choice at Steel Machine. That is not to say that we do not use or believe in weight training machines. Some machines do have their place in certain rehab situations and with specific populations.
However, there are some fundamental differences between weight training with free weight vs machines that we would like to point out to you:
Working in a specific muscle group: Most machines are designed to recruit a specific muscle or muscle group. Take for example the hamstring curl exercise. These machines typically recruit the hamstring muscle and portions of the calf muscle as well. The rest of the body remains supported as you concentrate on isolating that one muscle group. As a result, by the end of a typical gym workout, there has been little or no integration between muscle groups to enhance functional movement patterns for sport or daily living applications.
Predetermined movement pattern: Another big difference to remember is that most machines have a controlled movement pattern. Therefore, the learning curve has been minimized, resulting in less than optimal neural activation patterns. You don’t have to think to perform the exercise on these machines. As well, the stability factor, something that is inherent when you are learning how to control free weight movements (such as in Olympic Weightlifting), has not been addressed leading to poor recruitment and under development of key joint stabilizing musculature.
You’re sitting… Again! Finally, many machines are designed to have the user seated. This, once again, detracts from the functionality of most movement patterns. In a society that already sits predominantly at work, they sit again on the long drive home and yet again watching tv or when socializing, sitting in turn increases the risk of injury during performance related and or daily activities.
Olympic Weightlifting integrates many muscle groups at once as you move the bar from the hip, knee, or ground, to an overhead position. Incorporating compound movements as accessory work to build strength and power also helps to create neural adaptions, strength, and stability around a joint.
Both methods of training are crucial to a well rounded, athletic body!
If you have any more questions feel free to contact us.