Free Weights on Bench

The Benefits of Lifting Free Weights

Unfortunately, ‘free weights’ doesn’t mean free gym subscription, it means the use of weights such as barbell, dumbbells and lifting ‘freely’ without using machines to assist in lifts. For instance, a smith machine can allow you to do squats, but squats with a barbell across the back and no machine to help would be free weights.

For the average person, I would never advocate using machines primarily over free weights. Now, I know many people like to go to the gym and to use these fancy machines – and I do applaud their effort to actually get off their ass and do something to get in shape which is always better than doing nothing, but trust me, you do not need machines to get in great shape.

Free weights are my favourite way of working out and permanently make up the core of my program. Let me explain the 3 main benefits of free weights…

  • You and you alone are lifting the weights. It may sound obvious but, to most it’s not. When you have a machine assisting your lifting, for instance, a smith machine for the bench press… and you suddenly take that away, it’s a whole different experience. All sorts of different stabilizer muscles come into play that otherwise wouldn’t use, resulting in a much more complete and intense workout. 
  • You can vary the lifts. Once you are locked into a machine, the only way for you to lift is along the path the machine allows you. Not so with free weights. You can vary the grip position, starting and finishing position, lifting angle, and all kinds which you can’t do with machines. And, it only takes a little variation/change here and there to spur more muscle growth on – and I feel machines bore the muscles into stopping growing much quicker than free weights.
  • You can perform hundreds of different lifts with minimal equipment. If you want to work out at home, you don’t need lots of space, and just a bench/rack barbell and dumbbells and you are off to the races. Not only that, but most people who go to the gym do so to use machines and the free weights are free and unused. If you have no equipment you can get your workout in without having to wait forever while people use the machines. (And the average gym goer overuses and over-trains so you’ll have a long wait if you wait for the one machine you think you ‘need’ to use.)

There you have it. Lift free and grow.

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