Archive for November, 2013

This is by no means an article bashing free weights or declaring that machines are better than free weights for building muscle.

This article is simply meant to point out that, yes, there are advantages to using weight lifting machines over free weights.

Pros of weight machines

1. Target your muscles

Resistance machines provide excellent isolation exercises, which means they zone in on specific muscles very well. Do they do it better than free weights? Some do.

Take smith machine squats or hack squats for example. With those two squat machines, you can use a more narrow stance which targets your outer quad muscle. You know the muscle you develop on the side of your quad for that killer slab look? Well, that’s better developed with a more narrow stance.

Another example is the lat pull down for working back muscles. Not everyone can crank out 8 reps of wide-grip chin-ups. However, with the lat pull down, you can target your lat back muscles very nicely. I include lat pull downs in my back workouts often.

My favorite example is using overhead cable tricep extensions. Because it’s a cable, there’s resistance for the entire movement. Compare this to DB overhead tricep extensions where the resistance is uneven through the movement. Frankly, I get a better tricep workout using the overhead cable tricep extensions over the DB extension.

2. Easier to work in with strangers

Machines are easier to work in with other people. Sure, if you have a partner, free weights work well because you both change the weight in between sets. However, if you want to work in with another person on a bench press, and you both use different weights, it’s a hassle … it doesn’t work well.

Weight machines, on the other hand, are very easy to adjust weight (most times … machines requiring plates are an exception). Therefore, 3 people can easily work in together on a single machine.

This reason also makes weight machines more often available. If there are 2 bench presses and 2 chest exercise machines in a gym, up to 6 people can use the machines while only 2 people can use the bench presses (unless there are 2 workout partners on the bench press).

3. Faster

Machines are undeniably faster ot use. You don’t have to add and remove plates. You simply insert a pin into your desired weight.

This is particularly important if you do circuit training and/or supersets or you have very little time to workout.

4. No spotter needed

When you lift to exhaustion on free weights, you need spotters for many exercises (bench press, squats, shoulder press, etc.). Spotters aren’t always available. Moreover, you don’t want to annoy everyone else in the gym always asking for a spot.

Machines don’t require a spotter. There’s no danger of you getting pinned under a bar. If you can’t finish the lift, you just let the weight down.

5. Variety

Yes, you can do a lot of exercises with a bench, dumbbells and barbells. However, when you have a gym full of machines plus free weights, you have more exercises to choose from. You can dramatically increase the variety of your workout exercises.

Pros of Free Weights

1. Compound exercises

The only real compound exercises (hitting multiple muscles / muscle groups with one movement) are free weights such as squats, deadlifts, bench press, etc.

You aren’t going to hit multiple muscle groups with a machine. This is the primary reason many weight lifters focus on free weights – they builder bigger muscles faster. Be that as it may, I don’t ignore weight machines. I use them with free weights.

2. Purist Weight Lifting

I don’t buy the purist arguments. However, there are purists out there who only use free weights and swear by it. I find purist line-of-thinking not very good. If a machine can provide benefit, why not use it?

3. Lift heavier weight

Machines have a maximum load. Free weights don’t. You just add weights. Obviously this is only a concern for strong people. I have yet to use a machine that doesn’t offer enough load.

4. Stabilizing works multiple muscles

When you lift free weights, you use several muscles to stabilize the weight. This is the compound nature of the lift/pull. This is good and bad. Bad in the sense that you expend energy on muscles you aren’t targeting. It’s good in the sense you give your body a more comprehensive workout where the muscles work together to perform a lift.

What do I do?

I do a mix of machines and free weights. Often for any given muscle group I start with a free weight exercise, followed by a weight machine exercise.

I don’t workout with a partner, and I like my workouts to go reasonably fast. Machines help with my lack of a spotter and speeding up my workouts. But most of all, I like how I can target muscles with machines and the variety they offer.

Next, click here to download for free 42 custom workouts that include free weight-only workouts as well as free weight and machine designed workouts. Also, visit my popular fitness and weightlifting blog called Fitness Baron.

Many people workout without really knowing what exercises really add muscle size. All workouts will help you add some muscle, but certain ones add considerable amount of muscle mass. I like to call these the basic exercises for getting big.

Most beginners should start out with these first before moving on to another. Please use strict form and start off with light weight. Take your time while lifting and use full range of motion through out the exercise.

Squat

The squat is by far one of the best exercise you can do for developing muscle. It increases size in the legs and overall body size. This one movement can pack on loads of muscle when done right. I know many people who do just squats for building the lower part of the body.

Bench Press

I love the bench press. It’s my favorite exercise to build the chest. Not only does it work the chest, but also develops the shoulders,triceps and abdominal. I recommend adding this to your workout routine to add size to your chest. People can also use dumbbells or barbells to do this exercise.

Dead Lifts

The deadlift is also a great exercise to add to your routine. It works the whole body, especially the back, legs and abdominal. Please be careful with this exercise. You must use strict form and take your time with this one.

Military Press

This is definitely a shoulder builder. If you want big size shoulders this is a must to add to the workout plan. Please start off light then add more weight as you get stronger. This exercise also works the triceps and some of the back.

Wide Grip Pull Downs

Mainly a back exercise this will give you that V-Shaped look. If the person is looking for a defined back muscles, add this to your workout schedule. You will be happy with the results. Also by changing hand position from wide to narrow the individual will be targeting different back muscles.

Barbell Or Dumbbell Curls

Looking for larger arms, bulging biceps. This one exercise can add muscle mass to the arms. Arms are fairly east to grow and curls will do the job. When doing standing curls do not swing back and forth. Lower the amount of weight and stay straight up when doing curls.

Triceps Press

Another arm building exercise. This one will make the back of the arm huge. The back of the arm called the triceps makes up two- thirds of the arm. Most people think the bicep is the biggest part of the arm. That’s incorrect the triceps are. Build that part and you will have very large arms.

If you add the exercises I explained to your workout routines you should see an increase in muscle size and definition to your body.

I’m writing this article to help you realize how important exercise and nutrition is to your overall health and physical appearance. Exercise and nutrition helps with arthritis, diabetes, depression, motivation, weight loss, lowering cholesterol, flexibility and muscle definition.

If you are interested in getting into shape, or want some information on this subject. I have just completed my report, “How To Start A Fitness Program And Get Results In Just 30 Days.”

You can download my complimentary report here, http://www.personaltrainingalliance.com

Marc Ouellette is a certified personal trainer who has helped many people reach their goals by incorporating strength training, cardiovascular exercise and nutritional guidance.

Train your Legs Isolateral Style

If you had a chance to read the recent article “10 Minutes to Total Legs” then you picked up some great ideas for transforming your body. Just in case you didn’t have a chance to review the article I will give you a brief summary.

If you find yourself in a training rut it is often a good idea to completely revamp your workout style. A great option for a leg workout change, especially if you are short on time, is a Tabata style workout. The base of this concept is cadence style training where you exert yourself “all-out” for a period of time followed by a brief rest. This is repeated for a specified number of sets. The total workout is very short, only 10 minutes with a two minute rest in the middle. The very short workout makes it possible for you to work-out at a much higher level of intensity than you would be able to for a longer 45 minute workout. The result of this higher intensity is a shock to the body that causes Lean Muscle Gain and Fat Loss. The exact workout appears as the following:

– Warm-Up

– Machine Squat: 8 Sets of MAX Reps (20 Seconds per Set with 10 Seconds Rest between Sets)

– Rest: 2 Minutes

– Calf Raises: 8 Sets of MAX Reps (20 Seconds per Set with 10 Seconds Rest between Sets)

– Cool-Down

This workout WILL get results; however, now I want to help you reach the next level! This workout will be a variation on the Traditional Tabata Style workout and focus on Iso-Lateral movements.

At this point, unless you already know what Iso-Lateral means, you should be asking, “What the hell are Iso-Lateral movements?” Well sit up and listen you’re about to find out! Iso-Lateral movements are exercises in which you work one side of the body independent of the other. For example, an iso-lateral chest movement would be Dumbbell Bench Press. As you can imagine each arm is responsible for doing its own work. One arm does not rely on the other arm in the action. You can take this to another level by pressing with just one arm at a time. This is a way to add abdominal and stability muscle recruitment to a basic and effective movement. Now that we are clear on that, let’s apply that concept to the Tabata Style Leg Workout.

In this version of the workout, instead of squats you will be doing Single Leg Lunges. Also Instead of Double Leg Calf Raises you will perform Single Leg Calf Raises. This will cause an increase in abdominal muscle recruitment. Furthermore, you will be forced to train each side with equal resistance. You see when you press with both legs in a squat there is a good chance you are pressing harder with your dominant leg. Don’t feel bad. That’s really common and hard to completely avoid. But when you do just one leg at a time it’s not possible to rely on the dominant leg. Problem solved. Don’t get confused and think I’m saying you should only do Iso-Lateral Training. What I’m saying is that it is an awesome alternative and should find its way into your regular training split. Now that we are on the same page, let’s get into the specifics of the workout.

Because we are doing each leg individually in each movement, it would lead to a longer workout if we stuck to exactly the same number of sets per body part. In order to keep the workout at roughly 10 minutes what we will do is alter the sets and rest period slightly. We will also alternate from side to side to reduce the need for rest while keeping the intensity at an all time high. The workout will start with the single leg lunge on either the right leg or the left. After the 20 second “all-out” effort a 10 second rest is observed. Immediately following this brief rest the opposite leg gets to work. This is done for a total of 5 rounds on each leg. This should take approximately five minutes. Next, a one minute break is taken. Then the Single Leg Calf Raise is completed in the same fashion as the squat. Alternate from one leg to the other each set for a total of 5 rounds. This will take approximately five minutes. The total for all of these calves and squats is only roughly 10 minutes! The workout breakdown is as follows:

– Warm-Up

– Machine Squat: 10 Sets Total of MAX Reps, more specifically 5 Alternating Sets on each the Right/Left Leg

(20 Seconds per Set with 10 Seconds Rest between Sets)

– Rest: 1 Minute

– Calf Raises: 10 Sets Total of MAX Reps, more specifically 5 Alternating Sets on each the Right/Left Leg

(20 Seconds per Set with 10 Seconds Rest between Sets)

– Cool-Down

The result of these two exercises is a complete leg thrashing. What’s more is that the ABS and Stabilizer muscles are getting a great workout too. If you are feeling really adventurous I suggest going through the same workout style two more times while reducing the sets by one each round. That will look like the following:

– Warm-Up

– Machine Squat: 10 Sets Total of MAX Reps, more specifically 5 Alternating Sets on each the Right/Left Leg

(20 Seconds per Set with 10 Seconds Rest between Sets)

– Rest: 1 Minute

– Calf Raises: 10 Sets Total of MAX Reps, more specifically 5 Alternating Sets on each the Right/Left Leg

(20 Seconds per Set with 10 Seconds Rest between Sets)

– Warm-Up

– Machine Squat: 8 Sets Total of MAX Reps, more specifically 4 Alternating Sets on each the Right/Left Leg

(20 Seconds per Set with 10 Seconds Rest between Sets)

– Rest: 1 Minute

– Calf Raises: 8 Sets Total of MAX Reps, more specifically 4 Alternating Sets on each the Right/Left Leg

(20 Seconds per Set with 10 Seconds Rest between Sets)

– Warm-Up

– Machine Squat: 6 Sets Total of MAX Reps, more specifically 3 Alternating Sets on each the Right/Left Leg

(20 Seconds per Set with 10 Seconds Rest between Sets)

– Rest: 1 Minute

– Calf Raises: 6 Sets Total of MAX Reps, more specifically 3 Alternating Sets on each the Right/Left Leg

(20 Seconds per Set with 10 Seconds Rest between Sets)

– Cool-Down

Talk about an awesome one! In about 25 minutes per workout this will shred the legs and elevate the metabolism like mad! Hit this workout the way it’s intended and you will be priming your body for extreme change.

Ian Lauer is a certified strength and conditioning specialist. His background in personal training made him an expert in providing countless of valuable advice and a proud member of Team Powertec. Powertec is the pioneer and leader in the area of strength equipment. Headquartered in Los Angeles, CA, Powertec produces a full line of strength equipment for home and light commercial purposes. Our brand is highly sought after by the educated buyer looking for weight capacity maximization without sacrificing safety, customization of their Workbench home gyms through extensive accessory modularization, and commercial gym quality at home gym prices. Visit our website at http://www.powertecfitness.com or our online magazine at http://www.mag.powertecfitness.com for more fitness advice.

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