Women’s Strength Training: Free Weights Vs. Machines

Is it better for women to exercise with free weights, or machines? I’m a certified personal trainer. There are advantages to both forms of strength training for women, but if I had to choose either one or the other, I’d definitely go with the free weights. I will present the ups and downs of both types strength training for women.

Free weight benefits

  1. More muscles get involved, because you are forced to balance and guide the weights through the air, against gravity. So not only are the primary-mover muscles working, but so are secondary or “helper” muscles.

This may be true, to an extent, with machines, but with free weights, many more secondary and synergistic muscles get involved. This translates to more calories burned, and improved balance and neuromuscular efficiency. This includes recruitment of lower back/core muscles, which many women are interested in strengthening.

  1. Free weight workouts exercise joints more completely, and this means stronger tendons and ligaments.
  2. A far greater repertoire of range of motion is possible. You can more readily work out in three dimensions.
  3. Your grip will become stronger; what woman doesn’t dream of not having to depend on men to open jar lids?
  4. There is more variety.
  5. You can combine routines into one exercise, such as going from dumbbell shoulder presses immediately into dumbbell biceps curls, alternating the two back and forth.
  6. Can simulate real-life movements against resistance, such as picking heavy things up.

Free weight disadvantages

  1. You must pay a lot more careful attention to form.
  2. There is a higher risk of injury.
  3. You must be careful not to let weights drop on your feet.
  4. Entries and exits into heavy dumbbell routines can be tricky, and can even cause injury.
  5. Women with low back pain may find some routines uncomfortable.

Machine benefits

  1. Basic instructions are on most machines, including which muscles they target.
  2. Your body is more stabilized, better postured, since machines offer pads to support yourself against.
  3. Machines isolate certain muscles for the work.
  4. If the resistance becomes too heavy, you don’t have to worry about it crashing down on you.
  5. You can enter and exit into and out of the exercise without any difficulty; less need for a spotter.
  6. You’re less likely to get injured.
  7. People with lower back pain can work out with more comfort.

Machine disadvantages

  1. Most weight machines do not simulate real-life movement against resistance. Thus, using only machines will not make you as efficient in real life as you may think they will. Only one exercise at a time can be performed.
  2. Fewer options; can become boring after a while.
  3. Machines do break down and malfunction.
  4. Some can be uncomfortable, just by virtue of the design.
  5. Not appealing to some very large women who fear they might not be able to fit into the apparatus.

All women should take up serious strength training. For best results, women should use both free weights and machines, and focus more on multi-joint routines like deadlifts , squats, leg presses and bench pressing, rather than isolated routines like triceps kickbacks and dumbbell frontal raises.

Introduction to Resistance Bands

A gym membership costs hundreds of dollars and requires you to leave your house. Workout equipment is just as costly and takes up a large amount of space in your home. A solution to these problems is using resistance bands. It is an inexpensive and small tool you can use in your home to get and stay in shape.

What Are Resistance Bands?

Workout bands are also known as resistance bands, they can be used in place of machine or free weights. Many people do not realise that lifting weights is simply a form of resistance training.
What are resistance bands?

Simply put they are elastic tubing that stretch and contract as they are pushed or pulled. They come in differing sizes or strengths which correlate to differing colors. In order for them to work there must be resistance, this is created by anchoring a part of the band to either an item of furniture or by simply standing on them.

Resistance Band Types

The resistance bands differ from brand to brand but the following is a good guide for the strength of the bands;

Yellow – Red – Green – Blue – Black – Silver

With Yellow being the easiest or weakest band and Silver being the strongest or giving the most resistance.

If you were starting out I would suggest you use yellow, red or green and alternatively if you were after a hard workout I would use the blue, black or silver bands.

Who Can Workout With Resistance Bands?

Simple answer?…. anyone can.

While your typical gym head or body builder may frown at using tubing to create a workout they can in fact be used as an alternative to free or machine weights.

Due to their differing strengths and sizes they can be used by the following groups:

  • Fitness Fanatics
  • Serious gym types who want to stack on the muscle
  • People wishing to tone up
  • People recovering from injuries
  • People who do not have the time or money to join a gym

Basically anyone who wants to become stronger, more toned, fitter and healthier can use these. The resistance bands can either be used to compliment an existing workout or form the basis of a new workout.

Resistance Bands Benefits

  • Portable – great for people who travel a lot and need to work out, just put the bands in your suit case and you have a home gym with you 24/7
  • Price – bands are much much cheaper than buying weights and setting up a home gym.
  • Save time on workouts.
  • Accelerated fat loss with a high intensity workout program.
  • Workouts will become enjoyable again due to the range of exercised you can perform

Resistance Bands Exercises

There are hundreds of workouts that allow you to target whatever muscles you want to work on. These exercises consist of pulling the band in a direction creating resistance. You can adjust the tension on the band to make and exercise more or less difficult. Resistance bands have an amazing amount of versatility in such a small device.

Resistance bands are made in different lengths to accommodate people of different heights. The bands also come in different thickness for people of different strength levels and are usually rated in pounds. When purchasing make sure to buy bands with clips on the ends that allow you to remove the handle; this allows you to combine multiple bands together. A couple bands of different strengths can be combined replacing a whole set of dumbbells. It’s like having a dumbbell set that you can fit in you backpack and take wherever you go.

Conclusion

I use resistance bands in my home very frequently and love the way they work out your muscles. It is a different experience then free weights and you can create a really good workout with them. At around ten dollars per band they can’t be beat as far as at home exercise equipment goes. If you have commitment to work out multiple times a week, these will tone and build your muscles.

For a more detailed post about resistance bands Click Here

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