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Thread: Machines or Free Weights?

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    Musclechemistry Site Representative Stank Ass Rank drtbear1967's Avatar
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    Default Machines or Free Weights?

    by Charles Staley @charlesstaley -

    I've become less of a "tribal" thinker. Earlier in my career, I believed that resistance-training machines were inferior to free weights. I'd argue that machines only required you to overcome the resistance, not control it. Put another way, I believed that machines were "too stable." At the time I loved Paul Chek's quote: "Machines are like sleeping pills for the nervous system.”
    -
    But here's what I now consider to be a disconnect on my part: At the same time I was dissing machines, I'd also scoff at "stabilization" exercises (drills performed on the BOSU or on one leg) as inferior because the instability involved doesn't allow you to generate as much force as you could if you were stable. Using this logic, machines would be a GREAT choice, right? Looking back, I realize I had an ideology to defend: I disliked machines because I saw that people often used machines as an "easy way out" when they should be taking the time to learn how to use free weights. I placed a high value on developing free-weight skills and looked down on anyone who didn't feel the same way. Of course, I didn't view myself as that pretentious, so I had to disguise my argument by citing the downside of machines, while at the same time totally ignoring the upsides (of which there are many).
    -
    We all seek to define ourselves by the tribes we join. If you're a member of the "keto" tribe, you'll be deaf to any legitimate evidence that carbs can be beneficial. If you're an Olympic lifter, you'll laugh at the idea of bench pressing. We're drawn to tribes because they give us clear rules for behavior. That can be a good thing because it shortens the learning curve when you're a beginner. I'd simply caution you to resist dogmatic thinking and question the rules of any tribe you might happen to be a member of.
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    Everything Is Relative Stank Ass Rank Presser's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by drtbear1967 View Post
    by Charles Staley @charlesstaley -

    I've become less of a "tribal" thinker. Earlier in my career, I believed that resistance-training machines were inferior to free weights. I'd argue that machines only required you to overcome the resistance, not control it. Put another way, I believed that machines were "too stable." At the time I loved Paul Chek's quote: "Machines are like sleeping pills for the nervous system.”
    -
    But here's what I now consider to be a disconnect on my part: At the same time I was dissing machines, I'd also scoff at "stabilization" exercises (drills performed on the BOSU or on one leg) as inferior because the instability involved doesn't allow you to generate as much force as you could if you were stable. Using this logic, machines would be a GREAT choice, right? Looking back, I realize I had an ideology to defend: I disliked machines because I saw that people often used machines as an "easy way out" when they should be taking the time to learn how to use free weights. I placed a high value on developing free-weight skills and looked down on anyone who didn't feel the same way. Of course, I didn't view myself as that pretentious, so I had to disguise my argument by citing the downside of machines, while at the same time totally ignoring the upsides (of which there are many).
    -
    We all seek to define ourselves by the tribes we join. If you're a member of the "keto" tribe, you'll be deaf to any legitimate evidence that carbs can be beneficial. If you're an Olympic lifter, you'll laugh at the idea of bench pressing. We're drawn to tribes because they give us clear rules for behavior. That can be a good thing because it shortens the learning curve when you're a beginner. I'd simply caution you to resist dogmatic thinking and question the rules of any tribe you might happen to be a member of.
    Love it! You can find me bashing Machines in my postings here over the years and preaching that free weights incorporate the use of your stabilizer muscles which are an integral part of your foundation in size and strength!

    Ask Me now and I will likely say the same thing in terms of Free weights over machines any day every day, however with one very important caveat or distinction if you will, and thats it depends on your age!

    Its my humble opinion and stated through countless years of experience in training and bodybuilding , and that is if your a young guy, i still preach free weights and stay away from machines! Squatting is a must yada yada yada

    However for those of us who have put our time in and built a solid foundation of mature muscle , well i do believe you can maintain that size with machines, and I Know I can and have!

    I would however like to read more on how switching over to machines from free weights effects the body in terms of breaking down, and is it normal age wear and tare when your knees and joints hurt like hell or give way, or is it due to getting away from free weight training and not hitting those stabilizer muscles like you use to, and in many cases its these stabilizer muscles that hold everything in place around joints.

    Anyhow, great subject
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    I was raised totally on free weights and still prefer them HOWEVER now I'm in my golden yrs LOL, I see the advantage at times of machines....example I used to hate the smith machine, dismissed it as fluff or whatever. Now I have atrophy in my left tricep, thought back surgery would correct that 3 yrs ago (it did little) and now I use the Smith more and more esp for close grips and for front squats and even occasional back squat, also shrugs and shoulder presses.

    When I train clients, I tell them to go on a 75/25 free weights/machines diet
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    Back when I got started, just like a lot of you guys, there were no machines. All you have were free weights and that is what you used. Fast forward 30 years an now I really enjoy using the machines. Just seem easier on my joints and hit the muscle where I want them too. Getting old sucks, but just keep pushing and doing the best that we can.
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    MuscleChemistry Guru Veteran Member Maj7900's Avatar
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    I use them as an accessory lift or for days when Iím injured.


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    MuscleChemistry Senior Semi-Contributer pgb's Avatar
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    you boys don't remember the old universal machines in the school gyms. big square block of various stations of exercise machines, back in the seventies. i liked those things. it'd be nice to have one and a place to put it, lol.

    i've used free weights most of my life, and that's because i work out at home. i have a lat machine i use, not lately, and have access to leg extension and curl machine. i think a smith machine would be an asset at my age. my old joints are regular rice krispies. having a machine to stabilize the exercises for me would be a benefit.
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    all that you read here is only for entertainment purposes.

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    MuscleChemistry Guru Veteran Member blacktail's Avatar
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    I use both with machine being on the more used side. Had shoulder surgery 10 years ago and have been back at the gym for 2 now. I'm working my way into free weights but slowly. Shoulder injury sucks!
    Blacktail

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    blacktail is presenting fictitious opinions and does in no way, shape or form encourage, use nor condone the use of any illegal substances or the use of legal substances in an illegal manner.
    The information discussed is strictly entertainment

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    Musclechemistry Site Representative Stank Ass Rank drtbear1967's Avatar
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    Shoulders, Back, knees, elbows.... all used and abused.
    Get It Done!

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    Quote Originally Posted by pgb View Post
    you boys don't remember the old universal machines in the school gyms. big square block of various stations of exercise machines, back in the seventies. i liked those things. it'd be nice to have one and a place to put it, lol.

    i've used free weights most of my life, and that's because i work out at home. i have a lat machine i use, not lately, and have access to leg extension and curl machine. i think a smith machine would be an asset at my age. my old joints are regular rice krispies. having a machine to stabilize the exercises for me would be a benefit.
    I remember them well, the bench press was like square bike handlebars, had a chin up bar, black weights, lat pull that doubled as pushdown, prob seat cable row too, cable bicep curl etc. I played all the sports and me and my teammates would lift as long as football or hockey coach was in room then basically do nothing when they left

    These days the fluff people stay away from those ahem tortourous free weights, preferring machines that do the work for you. hows that for counter productivity?? At least the Cybex VR2 machines I have from 20 yrs ago make you put effort into it
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    don't know what a cybex vr2 is, but at least it makes you work. i haven't been in a gym/weight room in at least 20 years, so i have no idea what kind of flavorful contraption they have these days. i just go to the garage and sling heavy weight, while my wife harps on me about not going to heavy. bad habit of mine to over do it.
    all that you read here is only for entertainment purposes.

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    MuscleChemistry Guru V.I.P. Veteran yellow snow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Survivor View Post
    I remember them well, the bench press was like square bike handlebars, had a chin up bar, black weights, lat pull that doubled as pushdown, prob seat cable row too, cable bicep curl etc. I played all the sports and me and my teammates would lift as long as football or hockey coach was in room then basically do nothing when they left

    These days the fluff people stay away from those ahem tortourous free weights, preferring machines that do the work for you. hows that for counter productivity?? At least the Cybex VR2 machines I have from 20 yrs ago make you put effort into it
    I love the old school stuff..................make me laugh everytime someone puts the old stuff down and tells me how great planet fitness's new equipment is........bah, bah, bah...there go the sheep and their fat asses!!
    Beach bodies are made in the winter.

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