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Free Weights vs. Exercise Machines

If you’re a self-described “weightlifter” then you’re probably scoffing at the mere suggestion that exercise machines can compete with free weights, but to the rest of us it’s a legitimate question. For the layperson, lifting something heavy is a feat of equal measure no matter what the object, be it a book, a <a title="Medicine Balls" href="http://www.atgstores.com/medicine-balls_2643.html" target="_blank">medicine ball</a> or a bar that provides resistance through a system of weights and pulleys. It’s all heavy, right, so what’s the difference? <strong>The Free-Weights Argument</strong> Stabilizer muscles and natural range of motion – these concepts form the core of the free-weights side of the argument. Lifters will tell you that you get more exercise out of free weights because you have to use more muscles to lift the weight, which contributes to muscle confusion (a good thing) and a better overall workout. Range of motion when using free weights is determined by the freedom your body has to lift a thing naturally, compared to a machine that calls for you to conform to its range or motion rather than your own. Purists believe that exercising your natural range of motion is better suited to strength development for the kinds of real-world applications your muscles are used for all the time. Finally, some prefer the practical advantages of storage and the variety of exercises you can squeeze out of a minimum number of <a title="Weights" href="http://www.atgstores.com/weight-training_2370.html" target="_blank">weights</a> that can be thrown into the closet or under the bed when not in use. <strong>The Exercise-Machine Argument  </strong> Safety and ease of use are usually at the top of the list when it comes to why people prefer machines. You could argue that it shouldn't be that hard to just pick something up and lift it, but it's not always that simple, particularly for people new to weightlifting or who have a limited range of motion. Some find that the controlled movement provided by weightlifting machines can help them avoid injury. The prescribed motion also helps machine users not really have to think about how they want to exercise, which can make it easier to build and maintain routines. Free weights are “free” in more ways than one and that can make it harder to decide how or what to lift (which can quickly lead to not lifting anything at all). Machines, on the other hand, are built with specific exercises in mind – you just get on and go. <strong>The Verdict   </strong> You know what’s coming, right? Yep – many experts agree that a workout incorporating <em>both</em> types of equipment is the best. The free weights allow you to increase stability and improve range of motion, while weight machines give you a chance to “zone out” while you squeeze in some reps without hurting yourself or damaging any property. <a title="ATG Stores Homepage" href="http://www.atgstores.com/default.aspx" target="_blank">ATGStores.com</a> welcomes you to vote on your preferred exercise method: free weights or exercise machines. [poll id="21"]
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