Weight lifting question. Machine vs free weight

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Tom_T
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Joined: Wed Aug 29, 2007 2:33 pm

Re: Weight lifting question. Machine vs free weight

Post by Tom_T »

GibsonL6s wrote: Wed May 12, 2021 10:30 am Have you considered resistance bands, very versatile and very cheap. You can do most exercises with bands that you can do with free weights. Lots of tutorials on youtube. I was lifting a bit but when the gyms shut down due to C19 I switched to bands and bodyweight and a few nagging injuries cleared up.
+1 on this advice. I am 62, a recreational runner, and historically a gym member. When COVID closed the gyms, I switched to a combination of resistance tubes (not bands) and pushups. A year later, I don't notice a loss in fitness.

I like pushups because they are a good barometer of my strength. I can do around 40, but I find that if for some reason I miss several days, that number tails off a bit, so I get back to it. 3x week is enough to keep me on track. (FYI, I was doing around a dozen a year ago. Amazing how much progress you can make taking pushup breaks while working from home.)

I don't do any lower-body work because running (especially on hills) provides all the resistance I need for my legs. Anyone, runner or not, can walk up hills or stairs, or do lunges.
ponyboy
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Re: Weight lifting question. Machine vs free weight

Post by ponyboy »

Doesnt matter which one you go with...weights do not lift themselves. If the person isnt willing to put in the effort and stick with it, doesnt matter what you use. Both will give excellent work outs, but you have to use them. (yes, captain obvious)
alfaspider
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Re: Weight lifting question. Machine vs free weight

Post by alfaspider »

lightheir wrote: Mon May 17, 2021 10:27 pm I would NEVER do weighted squats deadlifts at age 69 as a low-experience weightlifter .

I would never do weighted squats/deadlifts at any age as a low-experience weightlifter. You don't get under a barbell until you've already mastered the movements. But there's no reason why a 69 year old couldn't train up to weighted squats/deadlifts (with careful progression).
Socal77
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Re: Weight lifting question. Machine vs free weight

Post by Socal77 »

alfaspider wrote: Mon May 17, 2021 2:12 pm
Socal77 wrote: Sun May 16, 2021 4:07 pm Neither. Only body weight exercises. If you must, dumbbells doing almost exclusively biceps curls.
I'm not sure what the fixation on bicep curls is. They are mostly just useful for bodybuilders as they are mostly an isolation exercise that doesn't do much for anything besides the bicep. Nothing special about curls, and you can certainly hurt yourself from curls same as any other exercise. They can put a lot of strain on wrists and elbows.

If you are fixated on bodyweight only, you can build your biceps with pull ups and variations thereof. If you are going to allow dumbbells, curls wouldn't be my first exercise to add.
That wasn't my point at all. My point is to try to stay away from all fitness technology and only perform movements that the human body would do naturally.

The only technology that is somewhat close to picking up rocks and logs to build something is dumbbells.

I learned this the hard way after gyming for 30+ years.

The gym is full of tech your body was not meant to perform.
alfaspider
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Re: Weight lifting question. Machine vs free weight

Post by alfaspider »

Socal77 wrote: Tue May 18, 2021 8:28 am
alfaspider wrote: Mon May 17, 2021 2:12 pm
Socal77 wrote: Sun May 16, 2021 4:07 pm Neither. Only body weight exercises. If you must, dumbbells doing almost exclusively biceps curls.
I'm not sure what the fixation on bicep curls is. They are mostly just useful for bodybuilders as they are mostly an isolation exercise that doesn't do much for anything besides the bicep. Nothing special about curls, and you can certainly hurt yourself from curls same as any other exercise. They can put a lot of strain on wrists and elbows.

If you are fixated on bodyweight only, you can build your biceps with pull ups and variations thereof. If you are going to allow dumbbells, curls wouldn't be my first exercise to add.
That wasn't my point at all. My point is to try to stay away from all fitness technology and only perform movements that the human body would do naturally.

The only technology that is somewhat close to picking up rocks and logs to build something is dumbbells.

I learned this the hard way after gyming for 30+ years.

The gym is full of tech your body was not meant to perform.
I agree there on not forcing the body into non-functional movements (like many machines do), but I still don't understand why bicep curl would be the only weighted exercise you do. You can replicate most functional movements with either a barbell or dumbells (or no weight at all). You can deadlift a dumbell same as a barbell, and either could be analogous to picking up rocks or logs to build something.

As a general matter, I think the human body will do its best to adapt to its environment and the stresses you put on it. If you run marathons, it will try to adapt to running long distances. If you lift barbells, it will try to adapt to lift heavy things. If you do pushups and jumping jacks, it will get good at those things.

A modern human that doesn't need any of those things for immediate survival will need to figure out which things can help prolong vitality and avoid injury. I think we agree that being good at silly machines like the hip add/abductor (the leg squeeze/open machine) is probably not one of those things, but being able to pick up something heavy off the floor (like a deadlift) probably is.

But with most functional movements, there's different ways you can train the body and achieve a pretty similar results. You can train core stability and chest with a pushup or a bench press. You train deadlift motions with barbells, dumbells, kettlebells. You can squat with our without weight. It's a mix of personal preference and desired goals. Your body will get good at the one you train for. If you train pushups, your body will get good at high rep pushing. If you train heavy bench press, your body will get good at heavy pushing. There is some crossover, but it's not exact. Nobody ever achieved a 500lb+ bench press by doing a lot of pushups and never getting under a bar, but having a 500lb+ bench press won't necessarily mean you can do an insane number of pushups. Even though they are the same basic movement, you are asking your body to make a slightly different adaptation.
CFM300
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Re: Weight lifting question. Machine vs free weight

Post by CFM300 »

benway wrote: Mon May 17, 2021 3:12 pm Through your library's online databases, you may have access to an article titled "Resistance Training By the Numbers" published in the Harvard Health Newsletter on 3-1-21.
Old-fashioned resistance training — lifting heavy weights multiple times — is the best way for men to slow and even reverse age-related muscle loss...

There are many theories about the ideal approach to resistance training. Guidelines published in the August 2019 issue of The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research offer some strong evidence-based advice. Researchers reviewed years of exercise data and determined that the following criteria for the five categories are ideal for older adults.
They then go on to summarize the key findings in the following categories: Type, Weight, Reps, Sets, Frequency.
The Harvard article is based on these guidelines:

Resistance Training for Older Adults: Position Statement From the National Strength and Conditioning Association
lightheir
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Re: Weight lifting question. Machine vs free weight

Post by lightheir »

alfaspider wrote: Tue May 18, 2021 8:08 am
lightheir wrote: Mon May 17, 2021 10:27 pm I would NEVER do weighted squats deadlifts at age 69 as a low-experience weightlifter .

I would never do weighted squats/deadlifts at any age as a low-experience weightlifter. You don't get under a barbell until you've already mastered the movements. But there's no reason why a 69 year old couldn't train up to weighted squats/deadlifts (with careful progression).
I'm not saying they its' impossible for all of them, but for most (and likely LARGE majority) of them, there are real physical limiters that will make it too high a risk specifically, spine issues.

It literally doesn't matter how good your lifting technique is with barbells - if you have a weakened disc/ligament in your back (which is probably at near-100% prevalence) at age 69, add just slightly too much weight, and you're going to have a disc bulge potentially causing pain as well as hitting a nerve in your back.

I know you'll say, well if you're doing squats unweighted, then add 1-15 lbs and that's a weighted squat. Ok, sure, that sounds pretty reasonable to me if you can do unweighted squats, but that's essentially unweighted since it's so low a weight. When I refer to a true weighted squat, I'm referring to significant weight loads, we're talking 30+lbs pounds - which is fair given it's a large-muscle compound movement.
alfaspider
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Re: Weight lifting question. Machine vs free weight

Post by alfaspider »

lightheir wrote: Tue May 18, 2021 10:49 am
alfaspider wrote: Tue May 18, 2021 8:08 am
lightheir wrote: Mon May 17, 2021 10:27 pm I would NEVER do weighted squats deadlifts at age 69 as a low-experience weightlifter .

I would never do weighted squats/deadlifts at any age as a low-experience weightlifter. You don't get under a barbell until you've already mastered the movements. But there's no reason why a 69 year old couldn't train up to weighted squats/deadlifts (with careful progression).
I'm not saying they its' impossible for all of them, but for most (and likely LARGE majority) of them, there are real physical limiters that will make it too high a risk specifically, spine issues.

It literally doesn't matter how good your lifting technique is with barbells - if you have a weakened disc/ligament in your back (which is probably at near-100% prevalence) at age 69, add just slightly too much weight, and you're going to have a disc bulge potentially causing pain as well as hitting a nerve in your back.

I know you'll say, well if you're doing squats unweighted, then add 1-15 lbs and that's a weighted squat. Ok, sure, that sounds pretty reasonable to me if you can do unweighted squats, but that's essentially unweighted since it's so low a weight. When I refer to a true weighted squat, I'm referring to significant weight loads, we're talking 30+lbs pounds - which is fair given it's a large-muscle compound movement.
I wouldn't call 15lbs "essentially unweighted"- that could be 10% of bodyweight for many folks, which is a meaningful portion. It's also within the range of many daily household tasks that younger people do without thinking but could cause injury in an elderly person. Many people will lift weights in the 25-50lbs range in the course of ordinary life. For example, a 69 year old looking to travel in retirement may want to be able to lift their suitcase without assistance. They are much less likely to injure themselves in the process if they have already trained.

It is absolutely true that older folks have less room for error, as the margin between progressive overload and injurious overload is much smaller compared to a teenager (who can get away with almost anything for a while). But I'd also point out that bearing weight doesn't just strengthen muscles- it helps with bone density and connective tissue. Those are exactly the things an older person should want to train.

There are some folks whose margin has shrunk to zero and really can't train- someone with very significant back injuries for example. But I think many 69+ year olds are more than capable of careful training in these sorts of exercises, and can reap significant benefits. And there are certainly some older folks who are more than capable of lifting very heavy weight. The deadlift record for a 75 year old is nearly 500lbs.
lightheir
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Re: Weight lifting question. Machine vs free weight

Post by lightheir »

I do agree with what you've said.

Still, I'd prefer for a 69 yr old without significant weightlifting experience recently, to go mainly unweighted for those big compound squat/deadlifts, if not avoid them altogether. You can likely get the bone density (impact and weight-bearing activity seems to help this), ligament strength, and other benefits from less risky activities, including hill walking/jogging, seated machine axial load exercises, etc.

I just don't' see a need for a 69 year old who's not a competitive athlete to do weighted squats and deadlifts where the risk of injury seems to outweigh the benefits. The hardest part about these particular movements is since they strain the back, you literally can't tell if something is going wrong - until it does, and often abruptly. There's no gradual muscle soreness, no gradual tendon strain, often just lifting more and more weight successfully, no problems, then wham - the disc pops and you suddenly can barely walk.
H-Town
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Re: Weight lifting question. Machine vs free weight

Post by H-Town »

lightheir wrote: Tue May 18, 2021 1:05 pm I do agree with what you've said.

Still, I'd prefer for a 69 yr old without significant weightlifting experience recently, to go mainly unweighted for those big compound squat/deadlifts, if not avoid them altogether. You can likely get the bone density (impact and weight-bearing activity seems to help this), ligament strength, and other benefits from less risky activities, including hill walking/jogging, seated machine axial load exercises, etc.

I just don't' see a need for a 69 year old who's not a competitive athlete to do weighted squats and deadlifts where the risk of injury seems to outweigh the benefits. The hardest part about these particular movements is since they strain the back, you literally can't tell if something is going wrong - until it does, and often abruptly. There's no gradual muscle soreness, no gradual tendon strain, often just lifting more and more weight successfully, no problems, then wham - the disc pops and you suddenly can barely walk.
You made a good point on the high risk of back injury for older folks. That should be the first and foremost consideration when they start working out.

However it should not be the reason that they should avoid the squat and deadlifts altogether. You gotta find the source of the problem, not just try to eliminate the symptoms. Like alfaspider mentioned above, lifting something off the ground and squatting down/sitting up are fundamental movement of human. If you don't practice those movements, you are going to lose strength and risk injuries in real life. Think about when you need to pick up a carry-on luggage and stow it away in the overhead compartment, or when you need to squat down or sit up from a chair.
alfaspider
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Re: Weight lifting question. Machine vs free weight

Post by alfaspider »

lightheir wrote: Tue May 18, 2021 1:05 pm
I just don't' see a need for a 69 year old who's not a competitive athlete to do weighted squats and deadlifts where the risk of injury seems to outweigh the benefits. The hardest part about these particular movements is since they strain the back, you literally can't tell if something is going wrong - until it does, and often abruptly. There's no gradual muscle soreness, no gradual tendon strain, often just lifting more and more weight successfully, no problems, then wham - the disc pops and you suddenly can barely walk.
I just don't think the solution to the fear of a ruptured disk is to just never load the spine in any way. The solution is to ramp training loads in a very careful and controlled manner.

I'm not saying deadlifts are the only way to do it, but you don't want the only time you ever load the spine to be occasional movements like picking up a suitcase or moving an item of furniture. Most people who rupture discs do it from something like that, not from a carefully controlled exercise program.
Wanderingwheelz
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Re: Weight lifting question. Machine vs free weight

Post by Wanderingwheelz »

For years I’ve used Powerblock adjustable dumbbells and an Ironmaster adjustable bench at home. I also have a lat pull down/low row cable plated machine that I also use for bicep push down with a rope. This has worked well for 15 years.

I think a mix of free weights and machines is ideal. Even when I belonged to gyms as a younger person I mixed free weights with machines. Use both.
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