Machines Versus Free Weights for Bodybuilding Workouts. Which should you use if you want to put on muscle mass? I’ve found that although free weights are better in many ways, machines can really help you train through injury, specialize in hitting a particularly stubborn area, and allow you to train prime movers without hitting stabilizers in case the stabilizers still haven’t recovered from your free weight workout. So in essence, I think both are necessary to get a balanced look. For instance, say I’ve trained squats one day, and did bent over rows the next day. My lower back would possibly be sore or still recovering from these two free weight workouts, but what if my lats weren’t sore and I had plenty left in the tank to train other parts of my back and my lower back’s limitations were preventing me from training some of my main muscle groups in my back? Well, that’s when machines are a perfect alternative. I can do a Hammer Strength movement or other machine where the lower back is supported while I still get a great workout on the other areas of the back. So in this tradition, machines help you train more often and harder, and allow you to hit areas that rarely go into full failure because they are limited by some of the stabilizer muscles.
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Source: Machines Versus Free Weights for Bodybuilding Workouts