Free weight vs training machines - the debate continues
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Karate coach and martials arts personal trainer in Abu Dhabi - Danilo
If you're confused about which option is best for upper body toning this Q&A will help clear things up for you. Free weights vs training machines in the UAE.

Personal Trainer Q & A Category: Exercise Types & Techniques

Personal Trainer Q & A Contributor: Danilo

Many people have a preference for either free weights or training machines when it comes to toning the upper body - is one better than the other?

Free weights or training machines (or both). Free weights in one form or another have been around for centuries. Training machines are a newer option but do you get better results from one or the other. The good news is that free weights are easy to use at home as part of your personal training plan.

  • When it comes to building and toning the upper body many people in the UAE have a preference for either free weights or training machines and the debate about which is best continues. As a personal trainer in Abu Dhabi do you think one is better than the other?

    As a personal trainer in Abu Dhabi I will always go for free weights. If we only take a look at the hormonal response, then definitely we need to give priority to free weights.  Of course, machines have some advantage over free weights but only if we want to isolate a certain muscle.

    As a personal trainer, I will always try to avoid training clients on machines. Either upper body or lower body, I will always go for free weight exercises because in my opinion the results are better.

    Free weights permit a full range of motion which leads to recruiting more muscle fibers; this in turn leads to a higher secretion of muscle building hormones. The problem with training machines is that you will outgrow them very fast and after a while you will not see any progress.

    UAE Personal Trainers in Dubai & Abu Dhabi For Muscle Building Training

  • Do training machines like Lat Pull-Downs and Chest Press offer the same flexibility to target individual muscle groups like free weights can?

    In my opinion, NO.

    If we take a look at the bodybuilding legend, Arnold Schwarzenegger, his trademark was a huge chest.

    One of the ways he achieved that was with Dumbbell flys (free weight exercise), because when he was doing flys he was able to achieve a huge range of motion which would be too restrictive on a weight machine.

    IF you want to develop chest muscles, then go for free weights.  If you take dumbbells you can reach a full range of motion in which you will be able to train and stress your pecs in many different angles. Stress on the muscle is required in order to stimulate growth.

    Free weight exercises in Dubai and Abu Dhabi will give you more flexibility and variety to train your muscles, creating an increase of stress and therefore development.

  • Do you think that you see better results when using free weight for training in Abu Dhabi and Dubai or are the results the same as machine training?

    In my opinion Free weights will give you greater results.

    Free weight exercises and multi-joint movements are going to give you a much bigger bang for your buck because they recruit more muscle fibers.  This results in a greater stress response, higher secretion of muscle building hormones (testosterone, etc) and greater adaptations in future strength and performance.

    Observed from the scientific point of view, deep squat and leg press affect the same muscle group, but what’s the difference?

    For example, some research where they compare effects of squats (free weight) and the leg press (training machine), they found 50% higher testosterone levels and 3 times the growth hormone for the squatters.

    These compound movements hit more than one muscle and the more fibers you stress during an exercise the more testosterone will be released into the bloodstream.

  • Machines to tone and build the upper body are more often easy to learn for a beginner so does this make training machines more suitable for beginners and reduce the risk of injury?

    Machines are more suitable for beginners as they provide you with support and guidance.

    If you are beginner, learn proper form of exercise on machines and then progress onto free weights after that.

  • Can you provide some pro’s and con’s for both free weights and machines for upper body toning for clients in Abu Dhabi who are confused about which option might be best for them?

    Pros of using Free Weights in the UAE:


    When using free weights you are stabilizing the weight, which will force you to use other little muscles that you didn’t know you were using.

    You are the only one who is controlling the weights, which makes it harder and more effective.


    Cons of Free Weights in the UAE:


    Well, now it becomes complicated. I will take a risk and write my opinion.

    There cannot be any cons of free weights – but only IF you are doing it properly.

    If you have a proper form and can control the weight then there is nothing to worry about – this is why when starting out you should seek the advice of a professional muscle building personal trainer in Abu Dhabi, Dubai or Sharjah.


    Pros of a gym training machine in the UAE:


    Machines have the ability to isolate a specific group or groups of muscle, making them ideal for physical therapy patients that only want to do one leg or arm. They are also good for handicap people or older people who can’t handle all of the stress of free weights but still want to work out and get in shape.

    Training machines are very safe. Most machines will keep you in a strict range of motion and therefore you will have less of a chance of creating any injuries because you won’t be going past your limits. Machines will also help you control and stabilize the chosen weight.


    Cons of a gym training machine in the UAE:


    It’s not a natural range of motion and therefore you won’t be using all of your muscles to stabilize the weight.

    Many machines are also easily outgrown. As you progress a machine just won’t do the trick for you anymore.


    To summarise – stick to the Free Weights if you can and if you feel comfortable using them 🙂

Danilo - Personal Trainer & Muscle Building Expert - Abu Dhabi - UAE

Abu Dhabi PT Danilo is an all-round fitness expert with specialist knowledge of stretching, circular training, strength and conditioning, modified strongman training and nutrition.

You can view Danilo’s full Abu Dhabi personal trainer profile by clicking the link below.

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