Fit and Toned- Free Weights or Machines?

The age old question! Do I use machines, cables, free weights, or the often forgotten and neglected body weight to get in shape? The answer is “YES!” You use all of them. To what extent you incorporate each into your fitness focus depends upon your level of fitness and individualized personal goals.

Machines are great, especially in a solo workout. If you train alone without a spotter, machines are great for several reasons. Done properly a machine is like a spotter for you. A machine has a specific field of motion that helps you to maintain correct form, balance, and coordination. It will act as a spotter would to guide you through most moves, if done correctly, don’t overload it. Machines are great for those just starting out, and for those with recent injuries. Machines are also great for muscle specific training like the back for example since it typically isolates one specific muscle, or muscle group.

Free weights are more about functional movements and may incorporate several muscle groups at one time. Take for example standing dumbbell exercises like the standing shoulder presses, standing bicep curls, and standing triceps extensions. These all focus on upper body while also incorporating trunk/core and some back muscles, as well as your proprioceptors that you use for balance. Be wary of going too heavy too soon, you will lose form and risk injury. Free weights are also great for building size. That’s why you see so many guys at the mirror. Don’t let them intimidate you- get in there!

Cable machines offer great benefits too. Cable machines don’t require much coordination on your part, and because of the assistance of the cables, you can lift more weight. Cable machines are very easy to set up and use. The drawback to cables is that the assistance provided by the machine in lifting the weights tends to reduce your reliance on stability muscles-and thus decreases the effectiveness of your workout.

Body weight– Stop complaining about it and use it to your advantage. Body weight exercises can be done anywhere. At home, at the office, on the road, no excuses! The risk of injury is low and it doesn’t cost a thing! Check out

So quiz time! Which one do you choose? If you said all of them, head to the front of gym class! To get a fit, toned, and functional body you need all of them. The same with your cardio-Mix it up. It prevents boredom and keeps your body guessing. No excuses now, mind, body, heart, and spirit, get out there and do it!

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