Monday, May 2, 2011

Free Weights Vs. Machines...You asked. I'll Answer.

You all know my love and adoration for resistance training. I mean I love to get a good cardiovascular sweat on, it's true. However, I love feeling strong, capable, and challenged like I do with resistance training.

The questions I get asked the most dealing with resistance training and lifting weights are...

If I am a female lifting weights will I bulk up? 
I've answered this a bunch in different posts, but the plain and simple of it...NO you will not. It's phsyiologically impossible for you to do so. Lifting weights WILL increase your lean muscle mass. It WILL help you to lose fat and lose inches making you smaller. It WILL make you stronger. It WILL make you look toned, like a rock star.

Should I stay away from heavy weights? 
NO. Don't be afraid to lift heavy weights. If you are wondering what the correct weight for you to be using is, you should be able to do three sets of 8-12 reps, feeling maxed out (like you couldn't do one more rep) by #12. If you want to see improvement and change in your body, you have to push your body to improve and change. Doing 6,000 bicep curls with five pounds weights will give you some great muscle endurance, but but muscle endurance isn't what is going to tone you. In order to increase your lean muscle mass you need to work the muscles to their max capacity. Break down the muscle fibers by using heavy resistance and you will increase the strength and size of the muscle fibers. No. You still won't bulk up.

I read an article about Hallie Berry a few years back, and I wish I could find it. In training for her role in the movie Catwoman her trainer had her eventually pressing around 1,000 pounds on the leg press. That is 11 45 lb plates on each side!
Physical proof that heavy weights will not cause a woman to bulk up. I want to look like that...dang. Don't you?

Should I use free weights or machines?
This is a common question that I get, and my answer would be it depends on your level of knowledge with free weights. If you are a beginner and you don't have proper form you can be putting yourself at risk for injuries, which I wouldn't recommend. ;) That being said...

These are the only machines I use.
1. Assisted Pull Up Machine
2. Lat pull down Machine
3. Cable Towers (Chest press/flies, Lat pull downs, triceps pull downs, etc.)
4. Smith Machine (For squats/Lunges with heavier weights)
5. The Leg Press

That's it.

I am 100 percent a free weights girl, and I will tell you why.
- I am all about multitasking with the workouts. If you can do two or three muscle groups with one exercise you save time and you will be burning more calories.
For example...
Step up push ups
Row with a lunge
or upright row to a dead lift
Most machines isolate one muscle. So you are at the gym for longer period of time. Let's get in and get out...or at least maximize the time you have there if you're going to be setting up camp there.
- I LOVE throwing core work in with my weights. Balance work is awwwwesome. :)
examples being...
Single leg squats
Balancing on one foot while doing bicep curls/shoulder press/upright row
Phsyio Ball Balancing (I LOVE this. It's a sweet challenge if you're looking for something new to try!)

I also do a LOT with body weight resistance and plyometrics. As you know I like to combine it all together and get a BOMB circuit workout in. If you haven't tried a circuit workout yet, do it. I promise it will make you sweat!!

 Moral of the story is...I think machines can be great and they serve a purpose, BUT I love free weights. I think they force you to work harder. Just be sure you're using proper form!! No injuries please :)

Do you like free weights or machines better? Would you rather get in a good resistance training workout or would you rather get your sweat on with some cardiovascular exercise? I love both for different reasons, but I definitely love to lift!!


ashley & sundance said...

1000 lbs?? holy freakin cow... that's impressive. Can we please work out together?? that would be awesome-sauce.

and i love pizza factory dates. LOVE. LOVE. LOVE. Had SO MUCH FUN tonight. :) :) :)

ashley & sundance said...

p.s. Are these goldfish spicy?!

Jody, RD said...

I love adding resistance training in. Circuits make it easy to get a hard cardio/weight workout.

Speaking of circuits.... you should post a new one soon ;)

Shannon said...

I think I would like weight training more if I had someone to do it with. Not to mention I'm very limited as to how much weight I have because I no longer have access to a gym (basically the one thing I miss about living in the city).

Anonymous said...

i put together a workout over the weekend using your circuit workouts and it was AWESOME! thanks so much for sharing!

[Red Sox] Wife said...

WOW 1000 pounds... that is CRAZY. um i LOVE doing free weights. mostly because I feel like I get a full body workout instead of sitting at a machine I can work multiple muscles and do squats or something while I work my legs... weights are something I have GOT to work on!

Generation X (Slomohusky) said...

good fyi - thanks!

Julia said...

seriously ash. thanks for the call out on the goldfish. bahaha. lets hang out again soon. i am still laughing from last night and I think I was laughing all night in my sleep. can we work out together so that I can lift 1000 pounds? thanks.

i love free weights. really love them. i am just always looking for new lifting ideas because i get bored easily :) have a good day!

Vanessa @ Gourmet Runner said...

I definitely prefer free weights for the multitasking, calling on different muscles for support. Lately I've been just using resistance bands for some of my workouts and they have been oddly hard as well!

Angie said...

Love free weights! I try to lift heavy (for me)... it gets hard when I am running more, but I love lifting too!

Janetha @ meals + moves said...

I typically swear by free weights, but Marshall has been my own personal trainer at the gym twice this week and we used a few machines.. holy balls, I am SORE!

Rachelle Wardle said...

Love this post it is so incredibly informitive. I learn so much from your blog girl and I absolutely love it.

I personally LOVE lifting. I love seeing the definitiion in my arms and I love feeling strong and powerful. I am also a fan of free weights and man Halle Berry is rocking!

Love you girl! Have a fabulous day and I would love to talk to you about the loss of your brother. I am sure we would totally relate. :)

Annette@(running)In the Right Direction said...

oooh so happy I found your blog. This post is great! I'm going to try these. And 1000 lbs? Is that for real? I'm not sur I could lift the 45lb weights to put them on the sides!

Allie said...

I haven't used a machine in ~4 years--free weights girl all the way! PS I saw a pic of you w/THE CUTEST tan fedora on hungryrunnergirl and you must tell me where you got it! :-P

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