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Expert Solutions: Free Weights or Machines?

A Discussion with SparkPeople's Fitness Experts


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  • Thanks for sharing!
  • I've always been a big free-weight believer, especially using dumbbells.
  • Love does not begin and end the way we seem to think it does. Love is a growing up. - James A. Baldwin
  • I recently joined a gym, the membership price is $10.00 every 2 weeks and includes gyms in a 4 mile radius of where I live, I live in Canada and it also includes a U.S. gym membership at another gym for vacations at many U.S. locations, it includes for free one session on weight training with machines, push ups, sit ups, fat, water, muscle composition,amount of calories needed to maintain or lose weight,amount of maximum weight loss needed based on age,sex etc. The next session includes information on aerobics & diet for losing weight. These 2 sessions are free with membership and all classes you want are free,sauna free & gym pass for visiting friends as well. You may consult with the trainer at any time to find out about machines or if your program should be changed. The first tests I was told I did better then most my age and managed the sit ups & push ups as well. The gym has about 12 weight training machines to use and many aerobic machines, I use resistance bands & 1-2 pound weights at home as I have a clot in my lung, I do not do more then 4 pounds at the gym. So, not all memberships are expensive!!
  • FREE WEIGHTS, benefit more in the long run. Quality strength here in Tucson, Arizona, has a motto...: we build machines, we don't use machines!
    What about resistance bands? Are they just as good for toning and slimming? I feel it the next day after working with them, but haven't really seen a comparison.
  • I really didn't "get" Dean's comment about free weights when he referred to "dumbells". What about barbells? They are a legitimate alternative.
    I was a free weight snob for a long time. I've been lifting on and off for 30 years. When I joined the Y they steered me away from the weight room. That was unofficially reserved for competitive and "serious" athletes. They started me on hydraulic resistance machines. I figured I'd do these a few months then graduate to the weight room. I ended up really liking these machines. Being computerized they remember every workout and increase weight automatically. They also increase the resistance where we are strongest and decrease it where we are weak like the old Nautalus machines did and they step up the resistance for the negative part of the rep. I found myself getting a better workout though I do know that unlike free weights they do not enlist all the auxiliary and stabilizing muscles.
  • One advantage re free weights that wasn't mentioned. They can be done at home with minimal cost. They do not require a gym membership.
  • Excellent article! Even though I have done strength training for years with both machines and weights, I learned alot from the coaches comments. It also may be helpful if you are unfamiliar with weights, to use a personal trainer for at least a couple of sessions for help with form.
  • I'm getting an education in health and fitness!
  • It’s interesting that more people in the poll chose free weights.
    I think it’s a question of economics.

    If like me you’re on a pension, for about £100 ($200) you can set yourself up with a decent bar and dumbbell outfit, a mini bike and then all you need is self-discipline.

    Set yourself a target of a 2 hour session three times a week and you’re away.

    On the other hand, the gym requires money for each session, also a gym reasonably close so time becomes a factor, then you don’t experiment and work out lifts and exercises which suit you.

    My worry, is that discussion about which is the better, will stop people getting started.

    To anyone reading these articles, who is wondering whether to get started – stop wondering get yourself a set of fixed weight dumbbells (good starters, and someone gave me my first set) study the Spark People site, build up your free weights as you build your body, and take a lot of notice of Nicole, from whom this 73 year old has learnt a great deal.

  • I actually asked my personal trainer this one day, and she gave me the same answer whch is great...although I do prefer the machines because they are easier, I do both to make sure im getting maximum results and I love it :D

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