As a teenager my twin brother and I were given a multi-gym and although I’d love one now (complete with a man cave to store it in that is) back then we used it to hang our jackets on it (teenagers, huh?). Anyway, as I was in the gym today (it’s a new gym, today was my second day), in light of a conversation I had and the fact that this gym has a huge number of machines I thought I would blog about the difference between free weights and machines.
Now, although the purists in either camp would go for an either/or approach I’m more inclined to go for a both/and approach (this does not mean that I don’t have a preference – the bulk of my time is spent on free weights) and here’s why:
1. Machines a great for beginners, there is less risk of injury and beginners can sometimes feel intimidated my the sweaty metal-heads that occupy the weights area (in all honesty like all past-times there is a real fraternity when you get to know others…and people are often keen to give you tips if you ask them).
2. Machines are generally easy to use, isolate certain muscle groups (which are normally shown on the machines) and the adjustable weights means they are useful for time saving.
3. Free weights, may require more balance and coordination (and are more likely to result in injury if used incorrectly), but they are proven not only to provide bigger and quicker strength gains but they are also more versatile (particularly kettle bells) and can be taken with you (a set of multi-weight dumbbells can be stuck in the boot of the car, the shed or the office- try that with a multi gym).
4. Finally free weights have always made up the foundation of body building and strength training because, unlike machines, they are able to not only strengthen major muscles but the smaller stabilising muscle too. This makes them far superior.
Therefore, I would still advocate the use of machines (the chin up assist and tri-pull-down are probably my favourite ones right now) but I would also encourage everyone who is interested in strength training to familiarise themselves with free weights as they are the bread and butter of muscle building.
Early Morning Snack: a banana (I couldn’t sleep, I was up at 4am)
Pre-Workout: a tablespoon of peanut butter and a tablespoon of honey (the honey was for energy – it wards of tiredness)
Post-Workout: all-in-one shake
Breakfast: porridge, banana and mixed nuts
Snack: a tangerine
Lunch: chicken breast, mushroom, broccoli, cottage cheese, tomato and celery
Snack: a tablespoon of peanut butter
Dinner: lean beef and vegetable chilli and mixed veg
Snack: a mango
Evening shake: whey
Snack: 2 carrots