When you walk into the gym, do you struggle with a constant battle over which piece of equipment is right for you? Of course each can benefit your body and its muscles in different ways, but if you’re not sure what they are, you might not be getting everything you need from your workout. That’s why we’ve got the lowdown on machines, free weights and bands, and how each can help you get the body that you want.
Machines: According to the Examiner, there is no real difference in how machines and free weights build muscle physiologically, the difference between the two is their mechanics. Machines are built for high volume, safety and they are easy to use, making them beneficial to nearly everyone.
Machines allow for more precise movements, which isolates specific muscle groups and can be useful when trying to increase your strength, power or local muscle endurance. Because machines do isolate the muscle being worked, they are also beneficial in cases of rehabilitation after an injury, or to increase the strength of a muscle that is prone to injury. Machines are also a good choice for people who are beginners in the exercise world, as they require a little less concentration on form and there is no added worry of dropping the weight on yourself.
Free Weights: Free weights include equipment such as dumbbells, bars and plates. Unlike machines, you control the movement, direction and speed that they are lifted. This allows you to create multiple exercises with less equipment and with fewer restrictions. Unlike machines, free weights also allow you to increase your coordination, due to the fact that larger muscle groups such as your legs and core, are forced to stabilize the entire body while doing an exercise with free weights.
Bands: According to Bodylastics, bands are similar to free weights because they also allow a free range of motion and speed of movement. However, bands don’t rely on gravity for resistance during the exercise, increasing the potential for more functional movement patterns that occur in everyday life.
Bands allow you to perform exercises like side kicks, punches and side twists in a horizontal plane. They also allow you the freedom to change the emphasis placed on certain muscles during your exercises, and are an excellent option when trying to knock out a hi-rep workout.
While each of these pieces of equipment are beneficial in their own way, to make the most of your workouts, it’s usually best to include all three choices in your routine. Remember, as long as you’re mixing things up and making sure to work all of your muscle groups at least once a week, you’ll see that perfect body starring back at you in the mirror before you know it!