HEALTH PROGRAMME: Free weights, machine weights and even bodyweight training which use no conventional weights are all options for general fitness and bodybuilding so which do you choose? So as not to confuse you any more than necessary I will narrow these options down to just free weights and machine weights and discuss the others in a forthcoming issue.
Machine weights: Because they are simpler and safer to use these should be the first choice for novices or people who may have health concerns, such as the elderly. However, machine weights are so supportive and user friendly that they may actually lead to you burning fewer calories. A lot of the harsher, adrenaline kicking elements are taken away by the fact the machine is bearing some of the burden. Your muscles are not getting the ‘shock’ factor/ stress factor from grappling with something it cannot control. However, a key benefit is they can more accurately target specific muscle groups causing them to get pumped up or develop quicker. It’s the main option if you’re looking for muscle isolation.
Free weights: OK let’s get to the ‘core’ here (forgive the pun). Free weights are a must for athletes and sports professionals in general because they develop core strength and build the muscles in their most natural way. There is no machine to support the ‘tottering’ weight about to topple over – you have to do that. Or your legs, back and core have to do that. The result is a larger area of muscle groups get worked. And yes it has to be empathised that free weights mimic the way the muscles operate naturally. This is crucial for athletic performance involving movement – boxers, sprinters, footballers etc. So a very simple conclusion is free weights will develop overall strength/muscular coordination and machine weights are safer and will define specific muscle groups. But hey both give a good work out!