Machines vs. Free Weights

I am not going to delve too far into this debate. You will hear all sorts of arguments from people in the health and fitness industry. Some make more sense than others. I am going to share my thoughts and the reasons why. This is going to be brief. I have written on this topic before and honestly I could write an entire book on the debate.

I will start like this, I am not a fan of machine training. The only people I think should ever use machines are bodybuilders. They were built and designed for bodybuilders by bodybuilders many years ago when we didn’t know better. Gym culture is built around bodybuilding culture and has adapted those beliefs and philosophies.

What is a machine? Anything that locks you into a specific range of motion and allows your bodies stabilizer muscles to turn off. So sitting on a machine doing crunches, or laying on a machine curling your legs are both examples of this.  Exceptions are cable machines as they allow for free range of motion and require your body to stabilize the joints.

Why is this bad?

Because your body was built and designed to work as am integrated unit. It was designed to support itself, to stabilize itself, and to power itself. Throw, kick, climb, sit, stand, push, pull, and squat. These are the basic ways you move. They all require coordinated movement from a variety of muscles and limbs at the same time. You are designed to operate as an integrated unit.
Machines do not allow this. They isolate one muscle at a time and support the rest of the body. This is not how you are supposed to work.

What about safety? If you can walk into the gym you can do body weight training. If you can pick up groceries, take a walk, or sit down in a chair you can follow the basic program I have provided you already.  If you can not do any of these things you should not be embarking on a fitness program, you should be beginning a rehabilitation program.

What about ease of use? Anyone who things it is easier to start with machines has not gone to a gym and attempted to do a machine workout. Some machines require as many as 5 different adjustments and if any of them are not set properly you can hurt yourself very easily.  Machines are not easy to use and it is not easy to know what order to do them in or how many reps of which weight to use.

Let’s be honest (by now you should realize I am quite straight up about things). Machines allow for easy workouts. If you think otherwise try 4 sets if pushups instead of 4 sets on the seated chest press, tell me which is harder. People want the easy option, where they can pretend to do a workout.

Machines give us a false sense of comfort about what we are doing. You may think you know what you are doing because you are following some thoughtless cheap printout handed to you by a gym staff member. But you do not really know what you are doing or why or if it is even the most beneficial program for you.

You need to work your body the way it was intended to work. You need to learn what that is and how to do it.

Your already on your way. My goal in life is to educate everyone on how to achieve lifelong health and fitness.  That is why I put up these posts and provide free workouts. Keep reading and keep learning. Make your body work and work your body.


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