View Full Version : Are machine weights really that bad?
Thu, January 22nd, 2004, 01:52 PM
Hey everyone, I'm new to the board and I have a quick question regarding machine weights. Now I know everyone says free weights are better but after school and work I don't get to go to my gym until 11 or 12 at night. (24hr. gym) For this reason, there aren't too many people there who can help with spots and so on. My only alternative, with safety in mind, was machine wieghts...now am I still getting a decent workout or am I wasting my time?
Thu, January 22nd, 2004, 02:57 PM
Most everyone I know thinks free weights are better for working out. One of the reasons for this is that the movement with free weights is much more natural;you're not moving weight along a straight track that the machine determines. The other reason mentioned is that when you use barbells or dumbbells, your stabilizer muscles come into play. You're using some muscles to keep the weight balanced, so you're getting a more fuller workout.
But that doesn't mean you can't get a good workout from machines. I don't know anyone who uses free weights exclusively, but from the guys at the gym that I've spoken to, they use a mix between machines and free, and they seem to be doing well.
Thu, January 22nd, 2004, 06:46 PM
Safety is your number one concern, so if you can't get a spotter for things like bench-presses, opt for a machine rather than potentially dropping a barbell on your neck.
For other exercises, however, stick to free weights whenever possible. Also, bear in mind that you can do dumbbell presses safety without a spotter.
Thu, January 22nd, 2004, 07:53 PM
Nothing at all wrong with machines, usually the people talking about freeweights being better are those looking at the final 1%, the people who have been at it for a long time. As far as general fitness and body improvement work goes, i see no issue at all with using machine weights.
Thu, January 22nd, 2004, 08:02 PM
Ofcourse Machines are good. lol.
I use Machines whenever I go to the Gym (I have my own equipment, like a cardio bike and a set of weights, but I go to the gym every once and a while to spice things up).
Thu, January 22nd, 2004, 08:12 PM
Well, don't mislead the guy here, folks. While machines are designed to work for pretty much everyone, they're not perfect for ANYONE. The range of motion will never be exactly what would work best for you, the grips will always be slightly off, etc. Then, of course, there's the tendency to only focus on extension and just let gravity pull the weight back, since the machine guides it completely.
Free weights, on the other hand, allow you to move EXACTLY how your body is best suited to move. They force you to exert yourself bringing the weight up AND taking it back. It's easier to isolate specific muscles and make small adjustments as needed.
If you have the option of free weights and machines, but have no spotter, I would only suggest using a machine on certain leg exercises and on dangerous exercises like bench pressing, where a free weight option is simply too risky to use alone.
Thu, January 22nd, 2004, 08:57 PM
While free weights are generally better for you, machines are better than nothing at all. Just try to use more free weights when it is feasible.
Fri, January 23rd, 2004, 01:39 AM
Thanks for all the info guys. I really do appreciate everyone's input. I guess I'll stick with machines for now until I can reschedule at work to be able to go to the gym a little earlier. :tu:
Tue, January 27th, 2004, 10:59 PM
Thanks Maximus for bringing this up.. I had the same question. I had read that machines were 'bad' too. The way I felt was that is was better than nothing. I think that it varies from machine to machine. Some machines I've used are downright uncomfortable, and dont give the motion needed. Even though I've been worked out in the past, I dont consider myself an expert by any means. I KNOW I'm using the machines correctly, where I'm not always sure if I do the freeweights right.. perhaps am too self conscious! I can look like an idiot in my basement, and no one will be the wiser! I've been easing myself into the freeweights at the gym, as I dont doubt that you might get better results.
I have another question regarding machines. On the machine "forward chest press", I can do about 200lbs. However when I use the weight bench, I am not anywhere close, and can only do about 150. (although I dont want to kill myself on the bench as I dont have a spotter) Does that sound right that I could do that much more on a machine??
Wed, January 28th, 2004, 05:52 AM
I notice in the Gym many people use the Hammer Strength machines...how do these compare to free weights and other fixed weight machines. ie is it the same as the machines just that you can use plates etc instead of pins??
Wed, January 28th, 2004, 09:20 AM
Seriously, do not limit yourself to a machine. There are several exercises where you really need no spotter. I find it funny when I see people doing the preacher curl machine. Why would someone use that machine? It's not like you need a spot to do a BB Curl or anything.
The only exercises I can think of where one might need a spot would be Bench Press and... hell, that's all I can think of. Even then, you are better off just using a lighter weight that you know you can lift using dumbbells. You can always just drop the weights to the side if you get into any trouble.
So, my advice is to stay as far away from the machines as possible. If you do decide to use a machine, only use the bench press one. I'd say you could find someone who would be willing to spot/work in with you on a bench press set though. Chances are that anyone else who is in that gym at 11 or 12 at night is in the same boat as you, eh?