Machines and free weights

10.40 If you are unable to safely perform a recommended exercise with free weights, but you can safely perform a machine version of it, use the machine. But if you are able to safely and productively perform a free-weights exercise and the machine version of it, you are better off using the free weights version. Free weights involve more musculature than machine exercises, because the stabilizing muscles are involved to a much greater degree. In addition the free weights usually permit more freedom to adjust stance and/or grip in order to modify form to fit the individual. Machines are usually more restrictive. Some are so restrictive that they hurt the users, over time. But a good machine used correctly can open new horizons for some people, e.g., the Tru-Squat can enable a person who cannot safely barbell squat to still squat intensively.

10.41 ^ere are trade offs using machines, just as there are trade offs using free weights. Generally speaking, however, free weights are better tools than machines, along with being cheaper and more versatile. But the bottom line is safety. ^e decision on what type of equipment to use should be based on which allows you to push to your limits in the greatest safety.

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