T Nation

Free Weights from an Injure/Muscle Building Stand Point


#1

You know how you always read about 'do free weights or your stabilizer muscles won't develop, you'll get injured, ect...'

If I understand correctly the stabilizer muscles are the ones that keep the weight stable like Lats in bench press, traps in OHP, ect...

Now keep in mind I myself do a mix of free weights and machines, but hypothetically lets say someone does a routine where all the muscles are hit equally but done with machines.
Example:
Medium stance leg press
Leg extension
lying leg curls
standing leg curls
Seated calf raise machine
standing calf raise machine
Hammer strength bench press machine
hammer strength OHP
Back extension machine
Seated cable rows
Lat pulldown machine
Shrug machine
Rope pushdowns
cable curls

Suppose someone did something similar to the above throughout the week, the muscles are hit equally (not like retard bros who skip leg day, 7 bench and arm days a week, ect..), the person is somewhat smart, and does not overtrain, does equal sets for bodyparts, and the machines he/she does fit their body joints so the machines themselves do not cause damage to the joints and ligaments, diet is in order, no previous injures, has average genetics, and works hard. Besides not possibly having 'functional strength' or whatever, what might be the dangers of what I mentioned up there?

I lift at the gym and I like asking questions to learn more during rest days. I am also now trying carb cycling to help with bodyfat. Thanks for the info. I was not sure if this question belongs here or the beginners section. If the later, mods can move it.


#2

Let’s use shoulder presses as an example. With free weights and standing, your hips, abs and back need to fire to keep you upright, the rotator cuff stabilises the shoulder joint etc. This is an oooold discussion and the answer entirely depends on your goals. If visuals are all you’re after, a mix of free weights and machines is probably best - the aforementioned stabilisers can also mean that the target muscle ceases to be the weak point, so machines for higher rep stuff have merit. If you’re some sort of athlete (I’m including strength athletes), your objective is to move well. Free weights can be better for this because balancing is an important aspect for athletes. Joe DeFranco once said that the leg press is useless for athletes; if you consider how a split squat (his preferred alternative) also improves ankle stability, he does have a point.

TL;DR Both are tools for specific task. When in doubt, use both.


#3

I don’t see the benefits in a program based solely on machines.


#4

It’s more likely for a person to use stabilizers with free weights compared to machines. But it’s still a false assumption to say that anyone doing movements with free weights will automatically utilize all stabilizers available in their body. The body is complex and can make up for deficiencies by utilizing various combinations of muscle groups to perform the same task.

This is why it’s common to see people execute the same movement in many different ways, with regard to muscle recruitment and not leverages. IMO, a person that utilizes as many stabilizers as possible will increase performance and reduce chances for injury.


#5

[quote]dagill2 wrote:
I don’t see the benefits in a program based solely on machines.[/quote]

I don’t think he’s asking about the benefits so much as whether there are any material harms associated with it.

OP, from a phsyique-development standpoint, I do think that the benefits of free weights are probably overstated and that you’d be fine with the type of program you describe. I think you would lose a lot from an “athletic performance” standpoint by eg not developing your lower back as much with something like a back squat.

But purely from an injury/hypertrophy perspective, the bottom line on injury is whether you’re moving on a plane of motion with reasonable volume (to oversimplify), and with hypertrophy the results of your training protocol will largely depend on overall volume and the degree to which you can exert yourself and focus on working the particular muscle.

So I think that if you really wanted to pursue this course, there would probably not be anything necessarily wrong with it. Not ideal and I wouldn’t do it personally, but if it’s what you would like to do and will be consistent with, then hey have at it.


#6

I misread the question. I agree with MinusTheColon that a person could get away with machine work if they are only after building muscle. As long as they use a reasonable progression it should work.