Using Free Weights for Toning
Today I am going to talk about the benefits in using Free Weights compared to using Machines for doing a workout. The reason this blog has come about is because the new Why Weight Ireland Local studio uses free weights. The only machines available are a treadmill and an exercise bike, all the rest are free weights for toning.
Research has shown that free weights promote quicker strength gains and they require more balance and coordination than do the weight machines. Free weights recruit more muscle groups and more muscle fibers than variable resistance machines, which tend to only isolate specific muscles.
Free weights are also more versatile than machines because they allow for more variations in range of motion. Free weights require balance, and they tend to promote more activity of the joint stabilizer muscles.
Another way of describing the debate between machines and free weights is Structure V’s Functional Goals.
It’s helpful to know the main benefits of each in relation to whether we have primarily structural or functional goals. Free weights, with their extreme versatility are the ultimate tool for both structural and functional goal.
For instance if a bodybuilder is bench pressing and wishes to put on mass, a choice of reps in the 8-15 range would make a good choice. If one is also a football player who desires to put on some mass the bench press again is an excellent choice because it develops more real-life strength.
What is often called functional strength due to the need to stabilize and control the barbell in all three planes of motion, just like the athlete will need to do on the playing field.
However if the football player decides to use all high-tech Hammer strength machines for his chest work he may build some impressive pecs but will be lacking in the function department due to the lack of three-dimensional stability required in those exercises. Thus, his structure would have improved but without a corresponding increase in his function.
For the vast majority of exercises and goals, whether structural or functional, free-weights usually offer the most variety as well as total body stimulation because many muscles other than the prime movers (muscles responsible for moving the load) are stimulated as stabilizers.
Once you’ve begun slimming, you can focus on toning as well. Exercise using weights. This may sound surprising, but you should use weights even if you want to avoid gaining muscle weight. The key is to use free weights such as dumbbells. In order to tone, use light to medium weights and do many repetitions of an exercise. Training using higher numbers of repetitions (“reps”) trains your body to burn fat for fuel, leading to a leaner, more toned body.
Once you have found a weight-bearing exercise routine that works for you, push yourself a bit. Have you been doing 20 reps of each move? Push yourself to do 25, then 30. This extra effort is what will help you tone your muscles. You need to push yourself beyond your current capacity, because this is what will signal your body to make a positive change.
I hope that helps to explain the benefits of free weights over machines. Remember, when you pick up a light weight and you think that the weight is too light, try doing three sets with it and see if it is still too light ;)Bulking up and gaining muscle weight is not a realistic concern for most women, because they have low levels of testosterone, the muscle-building hormone. Without sufficient testosterone, most women are actually unable to build bulky muscles. So train without worry!
For more information about our new studio visit www.whyweightireland.ie/local
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