Are Free Weights More Potent Than Machines For Muscle Building?

By: Francesco A. Castano

A seeming agreement exists within the bodybuilding field regarding the superiority of free weights compared with machines for building muscle mass, to the point where machines have been defined by dedicated bodybuilders as essentially ineffective for those seeking maximum muscle building. Furthermore, those same bodybuilders will claim that gyms outfitted with machines are doing so in order to placate the lazy who thrive off of sleek bodybuilding workout equipment, and who fear grueling, muscle building workout sessions. This theory has been propagated so frequently and by such a wide variety of bodybuilders that there must be validity to such a claim; or, could this actually prove to be another of the many muscle building fallacies?

In reality, free weights are clearly not inferior to machines when used correctly, as they allow a muscle complete range of motion, and require a level of balance that is not inherent in machine equivalent exercises, therefore free weights will enhance the potential for muscle growth, but to what level? By listening to the mainstream bodybuilding community, the advantage free weights offer is so astronomical that a weight lifter would need to be considered ignorant to use machines regardless of the circumstances, yet, the muscle building advantages free weights provide is in reality far less dramatic. In fact, assuming a bodybuilder is using the same weight training techniques with free weights and machines, his muscle gains will prove to be nearly identical, to the point where even an experienced bodybuilding personal trainer will never uncover the difference in muscle gains between the two methods. Yet, because the free weight superiority misconception has been repeated so often, by such a large number of bodybuilders, the idea is promoted as fact, no different than a wide range of bodybuilding theories that are, in fact, myth masquerading as wisdom.

Not only are machines a potent alternative for those wishing to achieve substantial muscle gain, but machines may in all likelihood prove to be superior in total muscle gain due to a reduced injury risk, and a common reason why bodybuilders are not able to achieve their bodybuilding genetic potential is due to joint, tendon, and common muscle tissue injuries that interferes with consistency, leading to frustrating surprise layoffs, which ruins momentum, and eventually causes many to quit the bodybuilding process completely. Weight lifting workout consistency ranks as one of the most vital techniques in building maximum muscle mass, and free weights offer enhanced risk of injury and joint discomfort that can be minimized by focusing on machines as a substitution for traditional free weight muscle building exercises.

In fact, following many years of free weight bench pressing, I reached a point where my shoulder was experiencing a prolonged period of discomfort, to the point where I was unable to perform flat bench press with free weights, so I chose to experiment with an alternative. After purchasing a Smith Machine, I started to integrate the bench press into my weight lifting workout, and the discomfort I experienced with free weights on a continuous basis completely disappeared, to the point where I have since been able to successfully use the Smith Machine for excellent results without the painful weight training side effects. My bodybuilding results did not suffer due to transitioning from free weights to a Smith Machine, but I was amazingly able to continue performing one of the most powerful upper body bodybuilding workout exercises without any further shoulder pain, and this, alone, is reason enough to consider machines as a desirable and very effective alternative to free weights.

I believe that many of the bodybuilders who are negative towards the notion of machines for muscle building are perpetuating a "traditional vs. modern" debate, where they feel free weights signify classic bodybuilding, while machines represent the opposite of all that muscle building has historically entailed, defining the new era weight lifter who is unwilling to exert maximum muscle building effort, but rather is only interested in convenience and fluff. This idea is not unusual in other industries, such as those who enjoy automobiles feeling that any individual driving modern clutchless transmissions is somehow less worthy of owning a sports car, when in fact this is a personal preference, one that allows the driver of a clutchless car to potentially perform far better in other aspects of navigating the vehicle. Free weights are the bodybuilder's clutch, and for some, are rejected for superficial reasons.

If you enter a gym and find yourself surrounded by numerous machines, assuming you are using an effective bodybuilding diet and weight training workout plan, you can produce the same muscle gains as those who consistently rely on free weights, but with a lower injury risk to hamper your bodybuilding progress.

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Francesco Castano authors, a diet and weight training program teaching the exact techniques for building muscle mass without supplements or drugs.

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