T Nation

DB's Vs Machines for Older Lifters


Looking for studies/authoritative sounding cites saying that free weight exercise is better for people in their older years than machine training.

Here's the back story - I just got appointed to the fitness committee for my building. Our fitness center isn't bad in some ways (good selection of cardio options, you can pretty much do whatever you want, not crowded) and it's got a decent selection of weight machines for those who like those sorts of things. .

But it's woefully lacking as far as free weights training. We've got an ancient row of assorted dumbbells - up to 20 lbs, a couple of pairs of higher weights, an ez curl bar and weights that fit that, an olympic bar and weights for that. But no squat rack, platform or indeed any designated place to lift (which is kind of a problem because the floor is some sort of hard tile - which makes the possibility of missing a lift a little more exciting).

We also don't have any place to do pullups or dips. I know that last year the committee had $10,000 allocated for improvements which never got used, and I'm hoping to lobby for making some upgrades this year.

Oh, and the reason I'm posting this in over 35 is because a very high percentage of our members are seniors, so any suggestions I make should come with the explanation "and the reason this is important for our senior members is because. . . "

Truthfully, I want to see improvments in these areas to make the gym more conducive to my workouts. But, really they could do that by setting up a lifting platform in an unused corner and turning off the damn View in the mornings. But I also really do believe that many of the people who workout in my gym could benefit enormously by adding real strength training to their workout (and not those stupid tricep kickbacks w/ the 3lb weights). That's the message I'd like to take to the rest of the committee.

So, can anyone help me put together a persuasive argument so they don't just take the money and buy a bowflex??


The problem with free weights is that you need use them with good form. And someone has to teach these people.

If you don't have the time or the motiviation to do that, having free weights in there is probably a risk.


Another problem with free weights is sometimes they grow legs.


DB are fine and not as intimadating as big 45 lbs for the older people. Older people definetly need stablizer work machines no way possible