Free Weights vs Machines - Best For Building Muscle? Get Stronger?
Free Weights vs. Machines
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I'm starting a weight training program after being out of the gym for more than 20 years. The trainer at the gym told me that I should stick to weight machines, at least to start. Do I really need to, and if so, why?
— Brian, Pennsylvania
You don't need to stick to the weight machines if you don't want to. You do need to appreciate, however, that you have been out of the gym for 20 years and you should understand that you can't get back what you have lost during that time within a month or so of working out. To start, you need to get your body used to training again and rebuild your strength (and flexibility) so you can start really working hard.
Whether you use free weights or machines, you need to begin slowly and build slowly. When you haven't worked out for a long time, you need to focus on the long run and not worry about short-term gains. As we age, the saying "slow and steady wins the race" takes on more importance with each passing year. While weight machines do tend to be safer — most eliminate the possibility that you'll accidentally drop the weight and help prevent you from lifting in a way that could pull or tear a muscle — you can still hurt yourself. When you exercise with free weights, use them with caution and work out with a partner who can spot you and stand at the ready to help you with a weight should it become too heavy for you to lift.
I always recommend that people who have been out of the gym for a long period of time team up with a good, certified, and experienced personal trainer and have him or her develop an exercise program tailored to your unique needs and goals. Your trainer should show you how to lift weights properly and should recommend how many pounds and specific exercises or machines that will challenge your body without putting you in harm's way.
Video: Free Weights vs Machines | The TRUTH
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