Free Weights Versus Machines

Free Weights Versus Machines One advantage to using weight machines is it eliminates the need for a spotter. There's little chance of getting stuck under a barbell or accidentally dropping a plate when you're using machines. But how does the workout compare to what you get using free weights? A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research offers some perspective on the subject.

Ten men in their mid-20s with solid weight room credentials performed six sets of either squats or leg presses for 10 reps. One week they loaded a barbell for squats and the next they used a weight machine for leg presses. Although relative intensity remained constant, total work was greater for squats and so was the hormonal response to exercise.

True Strength Moment: Both of these lower body multi-joint movements are effective for building leg muscle size and strength, but it looks like barbell squats might push you closer to achieving big gains compared to leg presses. Of course, switching from one exercise to the other is one way to change up a stale routine.
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