When it comes to exercise, some people like to go to the gym to use the exercise machines.
For those that choose the gym, they are often faced with the decision of choosing free weights or exercises done on a machine. There are pros and cons of which exercises to do depending on your fitness goals.
The key difference between free weights and exercise machines is that exercise machines usually focus on isolation movements – meaning they work one specific muscle group. With free weights work multiple muscle groups with one exercise. These movements are called compound exercises and give you more bang for your buck.
Pros of Exercise Machines
One of the main reasons exercise machines are beneficial are that they specifically work one muscle group. Anyone that suffers from an injury, muscle loss, or wants to build one muscle group can focus on that area. For example, there are a variety of arm machines a person can use when looking to build bigger arms. There are many machines that focus specifically on the biceps, triceps or shoulders.
Exercise machines are also useful in a physical therapy setting. By being able to focus on a targeted area, machines can provide a therapeutic benefit to anyone with an injury.
Another benefit of workout machines is that it is easy to do them safely. Most injuries that occur during workouts are due to incorrect positioning. Oftentimes the machines are labeled with the correct position a person should be in while performing them. Also, the machines provide stability during the exercise so a person doesn’t have to worry about maintaining their balance or keeping the correct position.
For these reasons also, exercise machines are a great choice for beginners allowing them to learn proper form with a moderately low weight.
The same thing that makes weight machines great can be the same thing that makes them a poor choice.
Cons of Exercise Machines
Since weight machines are an isolation exercise, someone who exclusively uses these machines often find themselves with a muscle imbalance. Muscle imbalances can cause injury. For example, a hamstring curl machine will work the hamstring exclusively.
Because of this, the quadriceps are not worked and may cause your hamstrings to become overdeveloped in relation to your quadriceps. When this happens, you may be setting yourself up for lower back problems.
Another con about exercise machines are that unless you are a member of a gym, machines can be very expensive. The most common exercise machine, treadmills, are on average of $250. And if you really want a nice treadmill, you are looking at a machine over $1000! If you have greater fitness goals than a treadmill can offer, if would behoove you to just join a gym and have access to multiple machines.
The greatest negative about exercise machines is that they can’t travel. People who are not home a great amount of time will find that they do not have the chance to workout enough to maintain any kind of fitness.
People that have regular travel plans and will be out of the home for days at a time might not have any access to their machines for their travel. If they are not creative enough to design a routine that works their entire body, they may just skip their workouts when they are on the road.
With anything, it all depends on what you are trying to achieve. As you can tell there are pros and cons to using exercises machines and they can be a great part of any workout routine. However, most people that workout regularly will maximize the benefits from using both free weights and exercise machines.