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Old 03-03-2010, 08:07 PM
Location: Earth
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I've recently started using the weight machines at our shop (we have a gym inside the shop). My main goal is to build some muscle to hopefully help burn off some of my fat and also to help define my body a little more. I am also doing cardio as I do run for 20-25 minutes a session during my 1 hour lunch time. I usually run 2-3 times a week and I have decided to try to use the 2 days I don't run to do weights.

Our gym has both free weights and weight machines. I am still learning but I believe I read that weight machines are not as efficient as free weights. Is there any truth to this?
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Old 03-03-2010, 08:58 PM
Location: Austin, Texas
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Depends on what you mean by "not as efficient." For as long as I can remember--and I've been a gym rat for many years and a personal trainer for the past six--the conventional wisdom around the gym was that free weights were for the "serious" weightlifter; the Big Boys, if you will, while the weight machines were primarily good for only toning-up, since, pound for pound, they are a bit easier to use because most of them use a cable & pulley mechanism which increases your leverage and thus does some of the work for you. This is especially true with the bench press, where you'll find that doing it with free weights is much harder than on a machine, since you don't have to worry about balance. It's not unusual for someone to be able to only lift, say, 70% the weight they can do on a bench machine--or even a "Smith"--when attempting a free weight bench press with a barbell.
But the machines have come a long way since the old Nautilus days, and since there's such an excellently diverse array of them in a well-equipped gym, it's far more unusual nowadays to find many guys who are die-hard free-weight lifters. Even the serious muscle heads hit the machines now and again, since their diversity offers the chance to train any muslce group.
So, since you said your primary goal was to add some muscle and burn some fat and increase your definition--and not simply get as strong and big as you can--I'd say that for your purpose the weight machines are fine. And from your post it sounds to me like you have a pretty good regimen going, so keep it up.
One other note: a lot of trainers will tell you that the machines are great for giving you those "pretty muscles." That is, muscles that are nice and smooth and tapered and elongated and not as bulky or bunched as they can get by using only free weights. The new cable-cross machines are excellent for this, and a new technique which involves using them with your eyes closed can help build the smaller muscle groups and also increase hand-eye coordination.
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Old 03-03-2010, 09:06 PM
Location: Earth
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Yeah my ultimate goal is to get really toned up. You know...six pack, chiseled firm pecks, defined arms and legs.
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Old 03-03-2010, 10:01 PM
Location: Tampa (by way of Omaha)
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Machines isolate muscles groups more, where as free weights force your body to use secondary and tertiary muscles for support that the machines provide for you. Basically, a majority of your time should be spent on free weights and then machines to "fine tune" your work.
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Old 03-06-2010, 10:53 AM
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Default Curl Bars are Good for Bicep Workout

To workout your biceps, you must curve your arm at a 90-degree angle. However, what you bend it with can make or break your bicep workout; hence use curl bars.
Many people have problems in bicep curl workout with a straight barbell. As to many it feels as if the straight bar sends shooting pains up the forearms during the curl.

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Old 03-06-2010, 11:05 AM
Location: Lafayette, Louisiana
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Using free weights will also increase the amount of energy used for the same exercise as a weight machine because of all the stabilizer muscles used to steady the body and weights during the movement. A problem with free weights is the people who swing the weights rather than use a clean smooth motion. Swinging the weights is cheating and can injure the person over time. Some people think the big mirrors at the gym is so people can admire their own muscles or secretly watch a hot person walk by. There is some of that but the real reason for the mirrors is so you can watch your form as you lift the free weights to ensure you're doing them properly. Use to lift with a guy who claimed he could lift so much more weight than I could. Then I saw him lifting. He was curling 50 lb dumbells in each hand but swinging his whole body. I challenged him to do the same curls with his back and elbows against the wall. He had to go down to about 30 to 35 lb dumbells to do it properly. He also claimed a huge squat weight. He didn't come down anywhere close to a 90 degree angle on his legs. He might have dropped about 3 or 4 inches. Same with his 100 pushups at one time. He'd come down a few inches and that was his 100 pushups.
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Old 03-06-2010, 12:39 PM
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Free weights are infinitely superior for muscle growth than weight machines. And weighted bodyweight exercises (pull-ups, dips, etc.) are best of all. If you want to get really ripped, make sure to do lots of pull-ups as part of any program you do.

Weight machines limit the range of motion one has and don't mimic real life movements very well. Only use them as a last resort.
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Old 03-06-2010, 01:24 PM
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You can honestly do almost all your workouts without any machines. The best bang for your buck for most people is compound exercises that utilize several muscles, especially if you're limited with time. Things like bench pressing, squatting, dead lifting, and chin-ups (pull-ups) are king. Leave the isolation exercises to those on steroids, genetically gifted, or the people who know what they are doing.
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Old 03-06-2010, 02:15 PM
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A machine thing that I noticed very recently is that while some chest press machines just limit the motion, some partiular models give great muscle contact in the pecs... so nowdays I've started to finish off my press-sessions with that machine even though the bulk of the workout still consists of barbell/dumbel presses in different angles
Heres my program(for front upper body strengh, biceps are only included as a secondary muscle when I exercise my back, as they are purely a "disco-"/"bodybuilding muscle" that there is no real use for exercising...)

1km treadmill jogg
powercleans 2 warmupsets 10x40 kg
1 middle warmup 7x60 kg
3sets 5x80kg(current training weight, listed the weights to give an idea of the proportions)
4 sets 5reps Barbell press OR 3x5 dumbell presses
inclined: same alternatives (4x5 barbell/3x5 dumbell)
shoulderpress: same alternatives
Dips 2 sets 15x bodyweight
flies: 3 sets 15 reps
2x15 chest press
3x15 situps in machine
2x15 "atomic pushups" with ball

2 times/week

apart from this I also exercise legs once per week aswell as back once per week plus 2 football practises.

As you begin training you can basicly cut the program in half and go from there. you may also want to use a higher rep range. so for example I do 4 sets of 5 repetitions with heavy weight (right now although this varies through a 3 month cykle) on the benchpress while you may want to start with 2 sets taking a lighter weight for 15 repetitions. This is of course an estimate and a personal traininer can line it up for you a bit more accurately to your needs, but at least i think I've illustrated how machines can be combined with free weights...

Good luck

Last edited by Niceguy89; 03-06-2010 at 02:31 PM..
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Old 03-08-2010, 10:24 AM
8,410 posts, read 38,874,114 times
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I think the mistake that people make on machines is they don't hold the control tight like they do with free weights. I think things that maintain constant resistance will give you the most bang for your buck. I prefer the look of what bands can do to free or machine. I am not looking to bulk but it really seems to get the entire length of the muscle for me.

You won't get ripped from just that though unless you were lean to start with. Most people have to watch what they are eating if only just a little bit.
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