FITNESS COLUMN - Machines or free weights?

Health tips from Xercise4Less fitness guru, The Colonel
Health tips from Xercise4Less fitness guru, The Colonel

HANNAH, 21, from Wigan asks: I’m keen to increase my weight training - but I’m unsure if I should be using free weights or machines. Which would you recommend?

The Colonel says: This is a great question Hannah.

Both weight machines and free weights offer great benefits and will certainly help you build strength and tone up, but which one should you focus your efforts on?

Well, in some ways, this depends on your experience.

Machines guide you through weight exercises, meaning you have to pay less attention to your stability and coordination; and it’s for this reason they’re great for gym newbies.

They allow users to carry out weight training in a safe and controlled manner, which helps reduce the chance of injury.

On the other hand, using free weights is slightly more challenging, as with the absence of a machine you are forced to call on your core stability and ab strength.

Free weights require more balance and coordination and will ultimately call on a greater number of muscles than if you were to use a machine.

Free weights are also much more versatile, they allow you a greater range of motion and variation on exercises and means you can therefore adapt these to suit you.

However, with free weights there is also more room for error and if done incorrectly their use can lead to injury.

So, if you’re a beginner, I would suggest you stick to the machines as these will guide you through exercises and ensure you’re working out safely.

Once you’ve got the hang of the exercises and are comfortable that you know how to do them correctly, move onto free weights for a bigger challenge.

Whether you choose machines or free weights, intensity and variation is key.

Be sure to mix up your exercises to continue to push your body, and more importantly ... have fun!