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  1. #1
    Elite Beserker's Avatar
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    Machines vs Free Weights

    After 15 years of no lifting, I joined a gym yesterday for the first time. I lifted for 8 straight years in my teens and early 20s... had my own equipment. 1200lbs of free weights, lat pull down, power cage etc.

    The gym I joined has an amazing free weight setup. Iím naturally going to gravitate to it.. Iím still in the 90s mindset. Thereís an amazing amount of machines as well. I know nothing about machines but am willing to give them a go.

    Which ones are going to not waste my time.. actually build muscle mass?

    Both of my RCs are fragile these days... any machine beneficial for that?

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  3. #2
    Elite CJ275's Avatar
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    Some machines you'll like, others you won't. Some won't just feel right. Some machines that others like, you won't, and vice versa. Give them a try.

    I personally like leg press, leg extension, and leg curl machines to supplement my squats and deadlifts.

    Same for upper body, BB compound lifts for strength, machines/cables for reps and to fill in the holes.
    Last edited by CJ275; 04-27-2019 at 08:25 AM.

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  5. #3
    Elite BrotherJ's Avatar
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    No machine, barbell, or exercise alone is going to build muscle mass - depends on your programming, nutrition, and intensity (among a ton of other factors). IMO machines compliment/accessorize your main compound lift of the day (bench, squat, deadlift) and allow a way to target a specific muscle group to exhaustion.

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  7. #4
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    Machines are good if you have had injuries and cannot really balance the free weights. Nothing beats the basic exercises with free weights. If you want to build muscle as quickly, safely, and efficiently as possible, then you want to use free weights for the majority of your training.

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  9. #5
    Elite Viduus's Avatar
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    Use them both. Personally I split machines into plate loaded and pin select since you can use them differently. Pin select is great for doing drop sets by yourself.

    tru a super or giant set where you go between barbell, machine and dumbbell for the same muscle group. You’ll start to realize how they hit your muscles differently.

    For different muscle groups you’ll end up preferring one over the other but it’s always different.
    Best raw lifts on the platform
    Squat-60 Bench-Bar&one clip Deadlift-NA

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  11. #6
    Veteran snake's Avatar
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    Stay away from that thigh abductor machine. It's only use is to aid a wife in keeping her husband out.
    Last edited by snake; 04-29-2019 at 08:08 AM.
    Hard work beats talent when talent doesnít work hard.

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  13. #7
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    I avoid all machines like the plague. Of course I don't go to the gym anymore and I only have free weights.
    But when I did go to the gym I used very few.

  14. #8
    Senior Moderator NbleSavage's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Viduus View Post
    Use them both. Personally I split machines into plate loaded and pin select since you can use them differently. Pin select is great for doing drop sets by yourself.

    tru a super or giant set where you go between barbell, machine and dumbbell for the same muscle group. You’ll start to realize how they hit your muscles differently.

    For different muscle groups you’ll end up preferring one over the other but it’s always different.
    My thoughts exactly.
    "So make ya move and plead the Fifth cuz' ya can't plead the First..."
    Rage Against the Machine -'Down Rodeo'

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    Senior Member notsoswoleCPA's Avatar
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    When I first started lifting again, I stuck to the various 5x5 programs and strictly adhered to the barbell exercises. I didn't start developing muscles to my satisfaction until I went to individual body part splits using the barbell for strength and cables/dumbbells/specific machines for accessory work. Eventually I may change how I do this, but my stepfather, who used to be an amateur body builder in the 80s, calls the routine that he designed for me a "power building" routine that emphasizes both strength and size.

    YMMV because we are all different.

  17. #10
    UG BENCH KING ECKSRATED's Avatar
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    I used to love the plate loaded hammer strength machines. If you’re a body builder then those machines can put some serious size on u if u use them correctly. Just don’t be the homo maxing out a one rep max on the plate loaded pull down machine. Lol
    Strengthfirst

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  19. #11
    Elite Beserker's Avatar
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    Lots of good ideas, thanks. I was always big on SS and GS.. going to incorporate some machines into them. The plate loaded machines looked interesting.

    Long, I hear you... gimme some dumbbells and barbells, never needed a machine. I saw your routine in another thread, we are from the same school. I think with two suspect RCs, I’m mainly looking for safer versions of old staples at least until I’m back on my game.

    No thigh abductor machine, check.

    Tomorrow, 5am, 1st day of the rest of my life.. hell yeah.. it’s been too long.

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  21. #12
    Elite Beserker's Avatar
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    I tried out quite a few... my shoulders didn’t like anything overhead.. put them in awkward positions and got a lot of clicking and popping even at no pin selection.

    The beneficial: hammer incline and bench. Decline was a no go. Used the pin selected bench for drop sets at the end of my chest days.

    Mainly I stuck with what I know best, dumbbells. Been sore as a whore on 2 for Tuesday... feeling things out and increasing volume/weight every workout. Feels great.

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  23. #13
    Elite. SFGiants's Avatar
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    Both...............
    Knock Em Down and Keep Em Down!

  24. #14
    Elite JuiceTrain's Avatar
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    Free weights = Raw strength
    Machines = Toning/Sculpting

  25. #15
    Senior Member Tinbeater36's Avatar
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    I really like the hammer strength incline press. Usually do it towards the end of chest day. Nice combination of pressing and squeezing the chest. (Hope that makes sense.)

  26. #16
    Elite transcend2007's Avatar
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    15 years is a long time
    ... whether free weights or machines start low ... also really focus on diet .... protein intake and overall calories will like make a far greater difference in your results than workout equipment ...
    HRT for life!

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  28. #17
    Elite Beserker's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by transcend2007 View Post
    15 years is a long time
    ... whether free weights or machines start low ... also really focus on diet .... protein intake and overall calories will like make a far greater difference in your results than workout equipment ...
    It is a long time... I’m either all in on something or completely out.

    I’m definitely taking it slow, and low. It’s a hard reality to leave off doing 100LB+ OH Dumbbell presses to struggling through 10 reps of 45LBs... It’s not where you start..or startover... it’s the dedication and determination to improve everyday that matters.

    Diet and protein intake is my number one focus for sure right now. I’m not concerned with losing weight yet, that comes naturally when everything else is on point.

    Things are going better than expected so far. Muscle memory is taking over, strength is coming faster than expected and I’m getting great pumps. I’ve always loved training opposing muscle groups in supersets on the same day.. did Bi/tri day today, was almost as good as cumming!

  29. #18
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    Personally, I stick with free weights for my main movements, and use machines as extra ways to work the muscle. Typically I use lighter weights/more volume with machines, as their strict range of motion can prevent you from being able to utilize the full muscle plus any supporting joints/tendons and can possibly irritate injuries as a result; free weights allow you more freedom to modify the movement to fit your body type, goals for how you want to work the muscle, and any injuries you may be dealing with. Both are great tools and have roles in a workout regimen, for me: machines = a sculpting or burnout role, free weights = meat and potatoes role, the main focus of the workout. Good luck with your return to lifting. It's always a good decision to make, and you'll get where you want to be, just keep working hard.

  30. #19
    Elite dk8594's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by snake View Post
    Stay away from that thigh abductor machine. It's only use is to aid a wife in keeping her husband out.
    But if you do use it......no eye contact.


    Fight against something and you focus on the thing you hate. Fight for something and you focus on the thing you love. - Simon Sinek

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  32. #20
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    I'd like to make workouts with Plate loaded machine,for it can make my movements more professional.
    We usually have a trainer to make sure our movement is right and efficient.
    So I think free weight will need a trainer. but with the machine's help, we just refer to some videos or book to learn some workout and do them.
    In this way,I'll depend less on my trainer,and pay less money.
    NO Pain,NO Gain

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