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Cable Machines Compared to Free Weights

by
author image Mike Everett
Based in Michigan, Mike Everett has been writing health-related articles since 2010, with his work appearing on LIVESTRONG.COM. He is a licensed certified fitness trainer from the International Sports Sciences Association, and he holds a Master of Business Administration in strategic management from Davenport University and a Bachelor of Arts in criminal justice from Grand Valley State University.
Cable Machines Compared to Free Weights
Just do it. Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images

The comparison of cable machines to free weights has been a topic of discussion among fitness enthusiasts and exercise professionals alike. The two can improve muscular definition and strength, while each has certain benefits that the other does not. The strength training equipment you use may come down to your personal preference and training goals. According to StraightHealth.com the best routine will use both machines and free weights for each muscle group. They both have their strengths and weaknesses, so integrating the two will give you the best of both worlds.

Cable Machines

Cable machines include a weight stack that is connected by cables to cams and pulleys and only move in one direction. If you are new to weight training or if you are working out alone, cable machines provide a good workout. They provide a very controlled motion and specifically isolate one muscle group at a time. Cable machines are a viable option for serious weight training, but they are essential for novice, senior, recreational athletes and injury rehabilitation.

Cable Machines: Pros and Cons

The cable machines are easy to use, and provide you proper technique and form. You can isolate one muscle at a time for an intense workout. Machines allow you a fluid movement with proper form through the full range of motion. You will spend less time setting up, changing and putting weights away. Injuring yourself is less likely when using machines. The advantages of machines also provide the disadvantages. Cable machines isolate muscles and you may end up making individual muscles stronger and leaving other muscles weak. Machines are adjusting, balancing and supporting your body, resulting in the smaller muscles that would normally do these tasks in real life often don't get exercised or strengthened.

Free Weights

Free weights exercises usually incorporate one or two dumbbells, a barbell, weight plates or a medicine ball or kettle bell. The reason they are called free weights is that there are no cables, pulleys, pins or weight stacks. Getting your technique right for each exercise is the most important part of using free weights.

Free Weights: Pros and Cons

Free weights are cost effective because a single set of barbells can be used in a wide range of exercises and training plans. You will be required to have a weight lifting foundation, as the entire body, including the central nervous system, must be engaged to produce balance and hand-eye coordination. Muscle Monthly suggests that experienced weight lifters may want to use more free weights due to their flexibility and incorporate the machine as part of their routine or for certain exercises. Using free weights requires that you use more than one muscle group for each exercise. You will be using control in your movements, and it is important because it promotes conditioning for your muscles.The biggest drawback of free weight usage is that you are at greater risk of injury. If you are lifting with poor form, it can lead to imbalances when the weights are lifted, which can result in injury. The heavier the weights you use in training, the more important a training partner or spotter becomes.

Safety

The most important guideline in any training program is safety. Make sure you are learning and practicing proper form; this is critical for an effective workout. You need to concentrate and stay focused on what you are doing. Always use the weight clamps on the end of a barbell. When in doubt, use a spotter. Remember, safety should never be overlooked.

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