Josef Brandenburg, special to wtop.com
WASHINGTON – Free weights or machines, which is better? This is a question I often receive. Like with most things, the real answer is: It all depends on who you are and what you want to accomplish with your body.
Here are some pros, cons and details on each. Hopefully when you are faced with the free weights vs. machines question, you will be able to decide what’s best for your body and your fitness routine.
The above point is also the biggest disadvantage for exercise machines. If you have a desk job, spending one more hour of your life sitting down is not a very efficient or safe way to increase your fitness.
When you sit down to do an upper body pushing exercise, the machine takes the place of your hips and core. This is great if you are a bodybuilder and you really need to isolate a given body part. But, if you are strength training with the goal of raising your metabolism as much as possible with the least number of exercises possible, this is counterproductive, since you are letting a large part of your muscles — and metabolism — relax.
Lastly, machines force you to travel in only one path of routine movement. This is OK for a handful of people, but dangerous for most because we’re all built differently.
Forcing your body to travel in an unnatural path can damage your joints over time. For example, if there is a leg machine that does not match the shape of your hips, in order to do that exercise, some other joint is going to have to compensate for that mismatch — and it’s usually your lower back.
Editor’s Note: Josef Brandenburg is a D.C.area fitness expert with 14 years of experience and co-author of the international best-selling book “Results Fitness.” In 2004, he started The Body You Want personal training program, which specializes in helping you get the body you want in the available time you have. You can also check out his blog, follow him on Twitter, or check out his fitness videos on YouTube. Follow @WTOP and @WTOPliving on Twitter.