How do you spend your time at the gym? Do you use it mostly on the cardio machines and weight machines? If so, you might be wasting time! Don’t get me wrong, cardio is critical, and weight machines can help you to learn the ins and outs if you’re a newbie to the gym. But if you really want to kick things up a notch, you’ll find that free weights are the way to go. Why is that?
Free Weights are Efficient
With free weights, you’re not confined to a single path or plane of movement like you are with a weight machine. That means your body has to do all the work of keeping the weight stable and controlled as you push the weights through the workout. You’ll find it makes for a far more efficient workout, one that works not only the prime mover muscles, but all the secondary and tertiary muscles that are needed to stabilize your movements.
Free Weights are Functional
Free weights mimic the sort of movements common in your daily life. You’ll find it much harder to find a weight machine that mimics the movements of cleaning your garage, loading and unloading your car, lifting your kids, and so on. With free weights, you customize the movement according to your need, which makes them far more “functional” for a workout intended to enhance your activities of daily life.
Free Weights are Better for Strengthening
Weight machines do work your muscles, but free weights work them a whole lot better. One Canadian study found that free weights activate muscles as much as 43% better than weight machines, which means a greater response to the exercise and better muscle-building. Best of all, free weights also trigger a better hormonal response to exercise than weight machines, which helps you to build muscle faster.
Free Weights Give You Cardio
Yep, you heard that right! Weight lifting can actually double as a cardiovascular workout, eliminating the need for the sort of low-intensity cardio most people do on the elliptical, treadmill, or stairmaster. With a full-intensity free weight workout, you can cycle through a full body workout without taking a rest. This non-stop exercise will push your heart far harder and more effectively than any cardio machine ever could. The result: twice the workout in half the time!
Free Weights Improve Your Balance
Free weights force all of your muscles to work together to coordinate your movements. You end up training multiple muscles at the same time, training them how to synchronize to maintain your balance and stabilize your upper body, lower body, and core. Free weights have been scientifically proven to improve balance and stability far beyond anything cardio machines or weight machines can do.
Free Weights Decrease Injury Risk
With machines, you’re forced to work on a single, limited plane of motion. But what if your unique physiology doesn’t work effectively on that plane of motion? What if you need a wider or narrower grip, a slight adjustment to your shoulders, or your arms need to move up or down more? With free weights, you have the ability to adjust your movements so you can accommodate your unique physiology. And the fact that you’re working with individual weights means that both hemispheres of your body have to work individually as well as together. Your off-hand may not be as strong as your dominant hand (or vice versa), and working with free weights will ensure that you train both halves equally to improve your strength and decrease injury risk.