Undoubtedly, free weights are superior to machines in building muscle for the greater range of movement and maximum muscle stimulation that free weights provide. If you want to reach your full muscular potential and do it as quickly as possible then free weights are the way to go. This is not to deny the potential machines have to spur muscle growth but when compared to the muscle hypertrophy induced from using free weights there is no comparison.
Free Weights Stimulate More Muscle Fibers
More muscle fibers come into play when using free weights which will translate into more muscle growth. A further benefit of greater stimulation of muscle fibers is an increased metabolic rate since you have to exert more effort during the exercises with free weights than on a machine. This means you will burn more fat with free weights since your metabolism will be higher as your heart, lungs and other organs have to work harder.
Free Weights Provide Real Life Practical Challenges
Gravity is a major factor that comes into the equation when using free weights unlike machines whereby movement is restricted to pushing and pulling. In this way, free weights provide real life practical challenges in balancing the weight in addition to the performance of the exercises. Real life activities that require strength speed and balance will therefore be easier, but not so if you are accustomed to using machines whereby the machine is helping you out. If you want to do better at a particular sport you play or want to be stronger to compete in everyday activities at home and work, then free weights is the way to go.
Instance in Which Machines Are Better
Despite the many benefits free weights provide over machines there is still a place for machines in an effective workout. Machines are good at isolating muscles in contrast to free weights where helper muscles might interfere with the target muscles. For example, although the benchpress is supposed to target your chest, if your shoulder muscles are stronger than your chest then your shoulders might end up bearing much more of the weight instead of your chest. Machines tend to eliminate the need of helper muscles and would be preferable if you want to target a specific muscle.
A good workout will incorporate a mix between free weights and machines. Both are necessary in order to build muscle although you should depend on free weights to a much greater extent if you want to achieve real muscle growth. Building muscle is all about not letting your muscles get accustomed to the stress you have placed them under and this is much more possible with free weights than with machines.
Chris Brown is a 25 year old fitness enthusiast who blogs at Gain Build Muscle.
He also has a presence on twitter.