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Cables vs Machines vs Free Weights

Hi,

I have been doing a significant amount of reading on the topic, and have come across the general idea that free weights are the only one of the three that can be used for growth of muscle and increasing strength. What I haven’t been able to come across is why cables and machines are only able to achieve tone and seperation. When I work out with cables, my muscles feel just as sore the next day as when I use free weights. I understand free weights require stabilization from other muscles, but I can not grasp why they cause the muscle and strength growth (and the others do not).

It’s a myth. Even doing isometric exercises can cause muscle hypertrophy. There are, however, different degrees of efficiency in causing hypertrophy and it is generally believed that free weights are the most efficient for the reason you stated.

Anything that allows you to work your body through a full range of motion is far superior than anything that restricts your ROM. Cables are fine … machines are what you have to worry about.

I doubt that was the answer you were looking for, but I figured I’d just throw it out there.

In my opinion all have their advantages. Although I haven’t really used much of machines, they can offer some significant benefits.

First, they can have smooth and even resistance throughout ROM to the target area. Unlike a db or barbell curl, for instance, tension on the upper arm flexors peaks when the forearm and dumbell are parallel to the floor, dropping off quickly after that on either end of the rep. This is not so with a machine curl (at least if the machine is made correctly). Lateral raises, pullovers, and triceps extensions all have the same advantage when done on machines.

In addition, machines can tailor the groove of the exercise. This can be both good and bad. It’s nice to have exercises like the Hammer Strength Unilateral Chest Press, which allows you to stretch the pecs at the bottom and squeeze them together at the top much more efficiently than a db or barbell press. The downside is, as pointed out frequently on this site, the potential for pattern overload and the lack of skill development.

Anyway, just my two cents. Use what works for you.

I have always thought that, ideally, free weights should be chosen over machines (because machine only let you do one type of motion), but I just never understood why everyone always said that there was no possible growth. It seems to me if I use a machine, maintain proper form when using it, and push myself hard and make improvements on the weight I move, that I should be able to get improvements (although less that if I had been using the comparable free weight alternative)

[quote]gregdilworth wrote:
I have always thought that, ideally, free weights should be chosen over machines (because machine only let you do one type of motion), but I just never understood why everyone always said that there was no possible growth. It seems to me if I use a machine, maintain proper form when using it, and push myself hard and make improvements on the weight I move, that I should be able to get improvements (although less that if I had been using the comparable free weight alternative)[/quote]

no one ever said that machines don’t offer any growth possible. It is just less effective than free weights

[quote]That One Guy wrote:
gregdilworth wrote:
I have always thought that, ideally, free weights should be chosen over machines (because machine only let you do one type of motion), but I just never understood why everyone always said that there was no possible growth. It seems to me if I use a machine, maintain proper form when using it, and push myself hard and make improvements on the weight I move, that I should be able to get improvements (although less that if I had been using the comparable free weight alternative)

no one ever said that machines don’t offer any growth possible. It is just less effective than free weights[/quote]

true…

I think most people on this site know that freeweights work all the stabilizer muscle and the movement is fixed which is why free weights are better than machines. Obviously machines have their place, look at DoggCrap people. I think newbees abuse that myth as well. When I go to my gym I always see new people, or people who look new, using machines RATHER than using freeweights. Just my two cents.

Free Weights > Cables > Machines > Nothing

A very general overview of muscle-building capabilities.