Is it Better to Use Free Weights or Resistance Machines?
The answer will seriously surprise you
Both free weights and resistance machines promise to help you build strength and tone up, so you should take the time to exercise your precious on? Ditch the machines, and go to the weight room. Both will get the job done, but free weights provide great advantage, especially for women, says Craig Ballantyne, certified trainer and author of Turbulence Training.
“Machines are not effective, they target only one or two muscle groups at a time, whereas body weight or dumbbell set using some muscle groups in a move,” Ballantyne said. These forces of different body regions to work together as a unit, he said, but also to improve coordination. Further evidence of the awesomeness of free weights: Using them requires core stability, so you strengthen your abs and other core muscles, even if you do not specifically target them , Ballantyne said. For why resistance machines very harmful to women, it has to do with the fact that we have the size for dudes. “They are poorly designed for women,” said Ballantyne. “Unless you’re an average-sized men, it will be hard for everyone.”
Ballantyne makes an exception for machines that let you do cable stack exercises like lat pulldowns and seated rows, which allow for greater muscle involvement and a wider range of motion. But otherwise, your best bet is to strengthen and tone up with dumbbells—or do moves that utilize your own body for resistance. “Basic bodyweight movements like planks, side planks, lying hip extensions, squats, pushups and kneeling pushups, and modified bodyweight rows are great exercises to incorporate into your routine, especially if you’re a beginner,” says Ballantyne.
Try one of the workouts Ballantyne has developed specifically for Women’s Health—all of them incorporate free weights or bodyweight exercises (and sometimes both):