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Free Weights Or Machines? To Use Or Not To Use

This question has been an on going war between bodybuilders, weekend warriors, and other fitness enthusiasts for many years. Everyone will have their opinion on this subject with a sprinkle of science thrown in along with a touch personal preference.

In truth, they are both good and have their place in your exercise program. Of course, like everything, they both have their advantages along with disadvantages. In a nut shell, when putting together a workout program it’s a good idea to combine both into the workout routine.

In Physical Rehabilitation, I prefer to use both as well. There will always be certain exercises that cannot be effective with free weights due to previous injuries, limited range of motion from past injuries or surgeries etc.

However in the home health sector in which I personally work, if there is any weight added to an exercise, it is going to be free weight, namely ankle weights and light dumbbells, rubber bands, and tubing.

I like using free weight when I am either in home health or in the gym because it activates and works our stabilizer muscles throughout our body depending on what Muscle group you are using and, in turn, you are building more strength and allowing a full range of motion when it is advisable.

In fact, free weights are the tools of choice used in building what is known today in the fitness world as functional training that older adults should be interested in building and developing overall strength and conditioning.

Of course with free weights, you really need to aware of a patient or clients body mechanics and technique to avoid injury and incorporating other muscle groups which the exercise is not designed to target in the first place also known as muscle substitution.

Machines will have their place both in physical rehabilitation and weight training for older adults as the weight is balanced for you and they are great to use for individual’s that do not have a weight training background, to begin with, and, help in isolating a particular body part or muscle group.

They can help reduce the chances of injury and help in recruiting more neuromuscular control of the targeted muscle group or groups which in time will become more efficient and help you in getting stronger.

Many of the machines today have vastly improved in design and overall function and, closely mimic free weight without the liability of free weight handling for those of us battling injury. I like using machines in my workout as I tend to focus more on circuit training as I age.

I personally will use machines also to help me work around injured body parts such as a compromised left shoulder in my case. With the machine, It helps me keep the weight balanced and is smoother to lift. With my knee replacement, I use the leg press which helps reduce strain on your low back along with helping me control the weight in a safer manner to avoid possibly damaging or accelerating the wear on the prosthesis.

So the bottom line is using one form of weight training or another for your fitness and/or physical rehabilitation will depend on your personal circumstances, injuries and preference. Do you have previous injuries that need special attention? What is your overall experience and skill with resistance training? These are considerations to keep in mind when making your choices.

Both used in conjunction with one another prove beneficial in your overall strength and development and is considered the ideal combination. So there is no really right or wrong answer here so I will have to give you a politician’s answer. Both should be incorporated into a well-rounded fitness and rehabilitation routine for optimal results and body performance.

Richard Haynes PTA, CPT
Total Joint Fitness LLC
Bradenton, Florida.

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This post first appeared on Total Joint Fitness LLC By Richard Haynes, please read the originial post: here

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Free Weights Or Machines? To Use Or Not To Use


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