1.88 Exercises can be done with free weights (primarily long-bar barbells and short-bar dumbbells), or machines. ^e former are the traditional and most versatile way of training. Machines reduce the need for instruction and the chance of acute injury. It is harder to lose control with a machine than free weights.
1.89 Free weights properly used are safe, but they require more expertise and skill than does a machine. While some machines are valuable if used properly, most are a hindrance to progress for the serious trainee. Some are even dangerous because they lock the user into a movement pattern that may not fit individual parameters such as height and limb lengths.
1.90 ^ough the risk of acute injury is usually reduced in machine exercises, there is often an increased chance of chronic injuries and irritations. And for home trainees, machines are usually prohibitively expensive.
1.91 An important distinction needs to be made between machines that lock you into a fixed groove, and those that involve cables which allow some freedom of movement. A lat machine, for example, allows plenty of individual freedom of motion and positioning, but a pullover machine offers much less.
1.92 As far as barbells go, there are "exercise" bars that are the same diameter (usually a tad over an inch) over the whole length and can be as short as about 4 feet, or as long as about 7 feet. ^ere are Olympic and power bars that have revolving sleeves of about 2-inch diameter at their ends. ^ese bars are about 87 inches long, depending on the manufacturer. All these bars are straight. ^en there is the cambered squat bar (bent like a yoke), the Trap Bar® [and shrug bar, see page 16], and thick bars.
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The use of dumbbells gives you a much more comprehensive strengthening effect because the workout engages your stabilizer muscles, in addition to the muscle you may be pin-pointing. Without all of the belts and artificial stabilizers of a machine, you also engage your core muscles, which are your body's natural stabilizers.