Who knows how weight training really started. One can only assume objects such as rocks were lifted and other such objects, until eventually specially crafted dumbbells and barbells were created. When all is said and done, training with free weights is still pretty much the same as it’s always been. Machine training on the other hand is something relatively new. The idea of having a machine assist in a lift may contravene the ingrained idea of making the muscles take all the strain, but I feel quite often the true point is missed. My article aims to shed some light on what machines can really do for you, and why they can prove to be just as valuable as free weights, if only people approached them in the right way.
People always seem to want to pit machine training against free weight training, when the smartest of trainees will always see the benefits in using both, as machines and free weights offer different benefits. At the most basic level when questioning whether machines are of any use or not, consider this: professional bodybuilders are at the uppermost of their genetic potential thus aren’t necessarily capable of big gains anymore – even when pumped full of state of the art steroids – yet they still use machines. If machines didn’t work, people who’s entire career depends on winning prize money and sponsorship deals by being the biggest and best wouldn’t waste a minute on them.
Machines also make for safer, more confident lifting for many people. It’s a given most people harbor the fear that one day, for whatever reason, they will become stuck under a weight and put themselves in trouble – particularly if nobody is there to ‘spot’ them. Such fears can make people switch to lighter, less challenging weights through fear and lack of confidence. Machines can help to raise a persons confidence by providing the safety they previously lacked, allowing them to lift much heavier with confidence. Machines such as the smith machine which can be used for squats or bench pressing haven’t survived in gyms for this long by being useless. Likewise with other machines.
Rather than thinking it’s a choice between machines ‘or’ free weights, what you should be thinking is it’s machines ‘and’ free weights.