• 86°

Machines and free weights: both have their uses in the gym

By Corey McMickle

Special to The Post-Searchlight

Options are blessings, aren’t they? When there is more than one answer to a question, it should be easy to choose one, correct? Like when I ask my wife were she’d like to eat at when we go out of town, the options come in at such an overwhelming rate that it doesn’t take her but a matter of seconds before we’re navigating to that exact location.

Believe that if you want, anyone can tell you that options truly complicate things for us. Bring to mind the last time you thought of purchasing a vehicle. What’s the purpose here? To drive from point A to point B, that’s it. Yet, when we go about answering this question, those dreadful options rear their ugly faces at us. Get a Ford, a Chevrolet? Look into a fuel efficient vehicle, or maybe sacrificing that for a little more horsepower to tug that boat along? How about sedan or a coupe? When it comes to bells and whistles, vehicles are a nightmare when plundering through all their options. Lord, don’t forget color!

How about the gym? After a couple of weeks of off and on discussion on matters of how people can mix up their routine in the gym, I’ve suggested a new method of training; at which I was responded with a pretty shocking look. Introducing either free weights or machines; where before they may have been completely absent, has always been an eyebrow raiser. I want to highlight some of the better reasons why either shouldn’t be an option anyone should have to heavily debate about.

Free weights first. Dumbbells, Barbells, kettlebells and even resistant bands make up the majority of this category. The unrestrictive nature of these tools is where inlays their ability to provide unguided restraint for our body to work against.

Think about this, you get underneath a barbell to do a bench press and you lift the weight off the rack, even before you start the pressing motion your shoulders are firing to keep the weight steady and not go waving uncontrollably in any of the three planes of motion it could possibly end up. Considering you have reasonable amount of weight on the bar, it’s safe to say your shoulders are getting a great workout as well, whether you know it or not.

That’s one beauty I love about free weights. I call them the secondary muscles that are getting triggered in free weight routines. But does this make machines obsolete? Let’s venture into that.

Machines, shall we? Machines have a bad rep. “This is too easy,” or “I feel this more in my shoulders than where I’m supposed to,” are both statements I hear all too often when dealing with machines. Machines are meant to be personalized for your body to use them optimally. Don’t do leg extensions after your buddy who’s six feet tall when you’re only five feet two. Take the time to see where the seat should be for you, as well as see where the proper range of motion is for you. Almost no machine is one size fits all, sorry.

What about the too easy statement? That’s great! Load up on more weight! Machines are usually perceived as easy because they’re not being used correctly. People cheat on machine just as much as they cheat on free weights, and that’s more of a nightmare on machines due to the restriction from the additional range of motion. Like I said previously, proper form equals great bodies.

Even after the form is corrected, it isn’t uncommon for the weight to seem easier to utilize on a machine. So after I tell you that you can isolate a muscle more on a machine than you could on free weights, would it make sense to think with the addition weight you can work with that you could get that target area stronger? Not one for stating the obvious.