When it comes to working out, there are so many tools, machines, and techniques. How do you know which one is best for you? The answer isn’t so simple since each one has their own unique advantages. However, fitness and health expert Emily Schromm shares some benefits of free weight training to help navigate the world of free weights vs machines.
Benefits of Free Weights
Decrease Imbalances- Using weight machines or barbells can lead to strength differences in each side of our body. When using these methods, it’s common for one side of the body to become more dominant and take on more of the work in an exercise. Free weight exercises allow us to load each side of our body equally, which prevents muscle strength imbalances. Often times, we don’t realize that strength imbalances are there until we incorporate free weights.
Strength Gains- Utilizing free weights to decrease imbalances will allow our weaker side to get stronger. Beyond that, free weight exercises require more control and balance. This means that more muscles are recruited to stabilize the weight which ultimately leads to more gains.
Injury Prevention- Free weight exercises are great at strengthening the body’s stabilizing muscles. These muscles play an important role in keeping your joints in place as well as supporting your body, so keeping them strong is a great way to prevent injuries.
Promotes Functional Fitness- The term functional fitness refers to exercises that have applications for everyday life activities. For example, doing exercises where you lift weights off the ground trains your body for similar movements. Performing activities like picking up a laundry basket or child becomes easier because your body is conditioned for it. Free weight exercises tend to have more real-life applications. Outside of the gym, most of the weight we lift is “free”, meaning our body needs to have strong stabilizing muscles to support the activity.
Free Weight Exercises
Free weights are ideal for working slow, controlled movements. Emily Schromm suggests incorporating exercises like dumbbell snatches, Turkish get ups, and windmills to get some of the benefits of free weights. Don’t stop there, free weights can be used to target any muscle group you want to work.
Free Weights vs Machines
Both free weight exercises and machines have their pros and cons. Weight machines can be useful for beginners for teaching proper form. Plus, weight machines can allow for higher weight volumes to be achieved. With any training routine, it’s about balance. You don’t need to go all in with free weights to take advantage of the benefits, just try incorporating some free weight training to your routine!