Just two or three 20- to 30-minute weight-training sessions per week can significantly lower your risk of obesity, slow muscle loss as you age and lower your risk of osteoporosis. Using weight machines to get your resistance-training exercise can also help tighten and tone your body. And while all types of weight training offer benefits, weight machines can offer a few advantages over free weights, especially if you're a beginner.
Weight machines take the guesswork out of good technique. Weightlifting machines are ergonomically designed to place your body in the optimal position and to promote proper range of motion. Working with dumbbells or barbells opens the door for poor technique, especially when lifting heavy, so that’s where weight machines excel. Since weight-training machines are a nearly foolproof way to perform an exercise, they're an ideal choice for beginners.
If you’ve ever seen someone drop a barbell on himself during a bench press or had a dumbbell slip to the floor, you realize the added dangers involved in lifting with free weights. Machines virtually eliminate these types of dangers and potential injuries. Because weight machines have a fixed range of motion, it’s nearly impossible to injure yourself because of poor form or technique. The guided motion offered by machines makes it a good choice for rehabbing muscle injuries.
Machines target specific muscle groups more effectively than free weights in many cases. This is again because machines promote optimal technique and range of motion. This is beneficial if you want to design a muscle-specific workout plan or if you need to rehab a particular muscle group. By exercising larger muscle groups – chest, legs, shoulders and back -- using weightlifting machines, you get a more targeted and quicker workout.
Change Resistance Quickly
Most weight machines use weight plates that you can adjust super easily by moving the pin to the desired weight. This makes it easy to quickly switch resistance levels, which is a must when doing super-sets or trying to dial in the optimal resistance level your first time using the machine. Weight increments vary depending upon the machine, but machines designed to work larger muscles groups, like quadriceps or chest, typically use 10-pound increments. Abdominal, tricep, bicep and other machines designed to exercise smaller muscles typically feature five-pound weight plate increments.
Joseph Eitel has written for a variety of respected online publications since 2006 including the Developer Shed Network and Huddle.net. He has dedicated his life to researching and writing about diet, nutrition and exercise. Eitel's health blog, PromoteHealth.info, has become an authority in the healthy-living niche. He graduated with honors from Kellogg Community College in 2010 with an Associate of Applied Science.