What Are Free Weights?
Free weights are any type of weight training equipment that doesn’t limit your body from moving when training.
Some examples of free weight equipment include barbells, kettlebells and medicine balls.
These types of weight training tools are great for building strength, flexibility in your body, balance in your core and muscle mass.
Who can use free weights?
Pretty much anyone of any skill level is able to use the free weights, provided that you’re using the correct form. Understanding how to use them properly is vital to getting the most out of your workout, and incorrect use can result in injury.
What Are Machines (Weight Machines)?
Machines or weight machines are gym equipment that allows you to sit in or stand, whilst pulling or pushing a lever (or a bar). Examples of weight machines include the leg extension machine, chest press or the assisted pull up machine.
Machine weight training allows you to work out by isolating a specific muscle group and only concentrating on exercising that muscle.
Who can use the machines?
It’s useful for structural or bodybuilding goals, so it’s perfect for beginners, those who’d like to build muscle and who are in rehabilitation from an injury.
Benefits of Free Weights
Ability to move freely
With free weights your body is able to move freely in any direction depending on the type of exercise you are performing. Free weights help with functional strength which is the support of muscles that you’d use to perform a range of everyday tasks.
Works many different muscles
They’re efficient in the sense that they workout the smaller and larger muscles of whichever section of the body you exercise. Unlike machines, the full movement is controlled by you, which means you need to stabilise your core, and your supporting muscles, in order to complete your primary movement.
Improves your balance and overall strength
Because your muscles are all working at the same time, free weights help with your balance, coordination, and overall strength. Your body is forced to work those muscles and stabilise them in order to maintain your balance. This in turn helps strengthen your core and overall balance.
Reduces the risk of injury
This increase in functional strength helps lower the risk of injury. Your lower back, shoulders, and legs are all used extensively in everyday tasks and are therefore most prone to injury. By learning the proper way to perform everyday actions, your minimising your chances of getting hurt doing them. Easy!
Free weights can be used in many different types of exercises for nearly every muscle you can think of. Better still, you only need a small space around you in order to get a sensational workout.
Benefits of Weight Machines
Great for beginners
Unless you’ve been a gym goer for awhile, weight machines are the perfect introduction to weight training for beginners.
Most weight machines have helpful guides on how to use them and easily guide the user through a specific set of movements.
Pro tip: Don’t hesitate to ask Crunch’s friendly staff or personal trainers how to use the weight machines. It’s important to know how to use them properly to get the most out of your workout and to prevent injury.
Isolates the muscles you exercise
Compared to free weights, when you start using weight machines you are generally working one area of your body, or very specific muscles. So if today is your leg day, you can hop onto the leg press machine and this would only target the muscles in your legs, not your core or upper body.
This allows you to target specific areas that you’d like to concentrate on. This could be to help craft a certain muscle, or help with rehabilitation from an injury.
Change resistance quickly
When you start to feel comfortable as a beginner on the machines you can start building your resistance by changing the amount weight you’re lifting, pulling or pushing.
Most weight machines use weight plates, so you can simply change up a weight increment when you feel like you need more of a challenge.
Safe to use
Because all the weight plates are on the machines itself, you’re not actually physically holding them. Imagine holding a very heavy dumbbell to accidentally drop it on yourself! Ouch!
With weight machines, you either need to sit in the machine or be standing next to it to use it. This decreases the potential for any injuries, so they’re really safe should you get into trouble. Just be careful of any cables, or baggy clothing getting caught in them.
Your form is the most important, not the weight, so if you’re not sure how to use a particular machine, do seek assistance from a PT to show you how to properly use them.
Which one should I use?
Your fitness goals will help you to decide which option is better for you, however the answer is likely a bit of both.
If you’re brand new to the gym, a personal trainer will show you around the facilities and take you through how to use the machines. Take this opportunity to ask any questions and make sure you get your form right, as this will help to prevent injury and increase the benefit of your workouts.
Free weights will assist in greater overall strength, balance and core stability, while machines help you to really focus in on the muscles you’re working on.
Let us show you the way!
Is weight training something you’d like to embark on? Awesome!
Whether you’re a fresh face to fitness or a seasoned gym junkie, we take the stigma out of being in the weights area of the gym, and show you just how fun it can be!
There’s no judgements at Crunch, we just focus on motivating and inspiring you to reach the goals you want to reach.
Get in touch with one of our friendly Crunch family members and we can get you started.
Crunch Fitness Virtual Assistant