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gym machines vs free weights

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I looked round a gym yesterday and said I was interested in using free weights, as I've read so much about Stronglifts, Starting Strength and NROLFW. However, when I went for my induction today with a different instructor, he said he wanted me to use the machines first to gain strength and then progress to free weights. Is he correct or should I insist I have another induction/plan setting session with the barbells etc?

I am 48 year old female with about 10 pounds of fat to lose.
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Replies

  • Mr_Knight
    Mr_Knight Posts: 9,532 Member
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    I'm sure everyone will chime in with their own opinions, but my belief is that free weights are the way to go right from the start.
  • roxylola
    roxylola Posts: 540 Member
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    I would go for the free weights personally. The PT who does your induction is trying to get a contract out of you for a bunch of sessions. He stands to make more money getting you on a 12 week "programme" on machines and then training you in free weights than he could make out of showing you the basics of free weights and you getting on with it.
  • jaz050465
    jaz050465 Posts: 3,508 Member
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    I would go for the free weights personally. The PT who does your induction is trying to get a contract out of you for a bunch of sessions. He stands to make more money getting you on a 12 week "programme" on machines and then training you in free weights than he could make out of showing you the basics of free weights and you getting on with it.

    Thanks. The gym however says it gives free advice and programme setting so its not that.
  • Iron_Lotus
    Iron_Lotus Posts: 2,295 Member
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    Tell him you don't want to use machines. Free weights all the way.
  • RTDice
    RTDice Posts: 193 Member
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    In my induction they gave me a mixture of machine and free weights. The PT said that free weights require a lot more technique, so get that right on a couple of exercises and then move off a machine to the free weight version one at a time.

    It made sense to me, and I have very little upper body strength so the mixture has felt right when starting the programme.

    That said - if you want to do free weight and they have ignored you then insist they give you a reason why not or the programme that uses them. Free weights go right down to small numbers, surly you could do some exercises with them?
  • Cherimoose
    Cherimoose Posts: 5,208 Member
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    Is he correct or should I insist I have another induction/plan setting session with the barbells etc?

    Unfortunately some trainers don't think newbies are capable of lifting light freeweights - even though they do similar movements outside the gym daily. Machines don't adequately work your stabilizer muscles, your core, or the coordination skills needed for unsupported lifting. Personally i would find a trainer that embraces freeweights and standing cable machine exercises.

    Out of the 3 programs you mentioned, NROLFW is the most suitable for your goals, in my opinion.
  • MonsterToBe
    MonsterToBe Posts: 244 Member
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    We're very close in age. I'm 42, and started lifting in January. It's hard for a female in our age group to get a trainer to take us seriously. Even if his head is screwed on straight and he knows how much more beneficial free weights are than machines, he may very well be afraid that if he starts you on free weights, that you'll get scared off and not do anything at all, and machines are certainly better than nothing.

    Be assertive, tell him you're not going to do the machines, that you know the free weights are what will get you where you want to go, and insist that he help you with form or point you to someone else who is comfortable doing so.

    FREE WEIGHTS ALL THE WAY, BABY! I'm never going back. :oD
  • roxylola
    roxylola Posts: 540 Member
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    Thanks. The gym however says it gives free advice and programme setting so its not that.

    Advice and programmes maybe, bet they still sell personal trainer sessions though.

    Ultimately, do what you are comfortable with, if you want to have a go at free weights go for it and don't allow yourself to be dissuaded
  • CoderGal
    CoderGal Posts: 6,800 Member
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    I looked round a gym yesterday and said I was interested in using free weights, as I've read so much about Stronglifts, Starting Strength and NROLFW. However, when I went for my induction today with a different instructor, he said he wanted me to use the machines first to gain strength and then progress to free weights. Is he correct or should I insist I have another induction/plan setting session with the barbells etc?

    I am 48 year old female with about 10 pounds of fat to lose.
    He is incorrect. My gym told me that 30lbs barbell was to heavy for 'a girl like you' to be lifting and literally took it out of my hands. I was very new to barbells and trying to get my forum for deadlifts ok so I could try something heavy. Seriously? 30lb deadlifts are to heavy for girls? They then suggested I use the machines or treadmills....I created a home gym and I'm doing 115lb deadlifts now. I would insist. Excessively. This sort of thing is kind of ridiculous. Just make sure you do things properly to avoid injury. And if you want to do heavy lifting, do heavy lifting. It may be a good idea to start with something like new rules of lifting if you're concerned about injury. You do higher reps with that so you get more practice before deciding if you want to lift heavy. The sad story is many people can't seem to get the idea of some types of people lifting, even if they are well meaning. I think the guy who ripped the 30lb barbell from me seriously was trying to help me.
  • james6998
    james6998 Posts: 743 Member
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    I looked round a gym yesterday and said I was interested in using free weights, as I've read so much about Stronglifts, Starting Strength and NROLFW. However, when I went for my induction today with a different instructor, he said he wanted me to use the machines first to gain strength and then progress to free weights. Is he correct or should I insist I have another induction/plan setting session with the barbells etc?

    I am 48 year old female with about 10 pounds of fat to lose.
    Honestly its more of a question liability. When i was a trainer we would be instructed to set our client up on machine weights, if they 1. never lifted weights before, 2. If they were over the age of 50. I see nothing wrong with machine weights, after all its the proper movement that gets you the results. When i started back after my 5 year lay off, i used nothing but machines to train my muscle movement again. Its not wrong, its not right, its preference. Trainers always pick the safest way to start of new clients from my experience. At least thats how it works here.
  • roxylola
    roxylola Posts: 540 Member
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    Honestly its more of a question liability. When i was a trainer we would be instructed to set our client up on machine weights, if they 1. never lifted weights before, 2. If they were over the age of 50. I see nothing wrong with machine weights, after all its the proper movement that gets you the results. When i started back after my 5 year lay off, i used nothing but machines to train my muscle movement again. Its not wrong, its not right, its preference. Trainers always pick the safest way to start of new clients from my experience. At least thats how it works here.

    That makes sense but how would you ever learn to lift if your personal trainer suggests you use machines not free weights. Surely you are always going to be in the position of never having lifted before because the trainer advises you to use machines because you have never lifted... That would make me more likely to strike out alone, as my trainer was not helping me learn to do what I went there for. Then more likely to injure myself and/or not get the results I wanted
  • 3laine75
    3laine75 Posts: 3,070 Member
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    free weights all the way. if you've stated that you wanted to use free weights, the trainer shouldn't be fobbing you off with the machines.

    i left the gym i was at as i had similar treatment despite seeing pretty overweight guys being given barbell training in their induction :S

    the male trainers at most gyms just seem intent on making us females use the machines - not happening, i'm setting up at home now :)
  • 3laine75
    3laine75 Posts: 3,070 Member
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    if you stick with this gym and the trainers won't help you out with your form for the big lifts, invest in 'starting strength' - it gives really in depth descriptions of how to do the exercises and why :)
  • sarahrbraun
    sarahrbraun Posts: 2,261 Member
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    free weights all the way. if you've stated that you wanted to use free weights, the trainer shouldn't be fobbing you off with the machines.

    i left the gym i was at as i had similar treatment despite seeing pretty overweight guys being given barbell training in their induction :S

    the male trainers at most gyms just seem intent on making us females use the machines - not happening, i'm setting up at home now :)

    I feel doubly blessed now! I have had 2 male trainers, and both of them have been all about the free weights. About a month ago, my current trainer actually suggested power lifting ( I think he was half joking...) and I told him maybe after new years.
  • jdm_taco
    jdm_taco Posts: 999 Member
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    Do what you want and will hold your interest. You can make considerable progress with machines. I like a mix of both.
  • annakow
    annakow Posts: 385 Member
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    Try both, some people say free weights are better to exercise balance and you get there faster but I like machines
  • jaz050465
    jaz050465 Posts: 3,508 Member
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    Update:
    I went back to gym today with renewed confidence after reading these posts. I was in middle of talking to manager about wanting programme set but wanted heavy lifting and free weights when one of instructors over heard and said ' a woman wanting heavy lifting- music to my ears'. So I've booked an appointment with him. Very chuffed. Thanks everyone for giving me the confidence to do this!
  • logicalmaniac
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    Machine weights are often viewed by instructors as being safer for people to use, because they keep you in better form. That is why instructors will often lean towards them. The problem with machines is that they isolate muscles and do not give supporting muscles much chance to grow.

    Free weights, if done correctly of course, have the benefit of strengthening supporting muscles and offer a better range of motion. Not to mention the fact that by utilizing more muscles during the lift you are burning more calories. So, for all around fitness free weights are the way to go.

    I would make sure that you watch some well done instructional videos on proper form. Start out by lifting light weights and really feeling the contraction of the muscle you are trying to work. If you start to get out of form, then you are done. Don't try to push through and exercise if you form goes south. Also, if you are feeling the exercise in a muscle that you are not supposed to then you need to readjust your form (ie. if you feel your shoulders getting a workout while doing a bench press).

    My opinion: free weights, hands down.
  • __freckles__
    __freckles__ Posts: 1,238 Member
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    Update:
    I went back to gym today with renewed confidence after reading these posts. I was in middle of talking to manager about wanting programme set but wanted heavy lifting and free weights when one of instructors over heard and said ' a woman wanting heavy lifting- music to my ears'. So I've booked an appointment with him. Very chuffed. Thanks everyone for giving me the confidence to do this!

    Good for you for sticking with your guns. I also wanted to book some time with a PT to learn proper form and told my gym all I wanted to learn was heavy lifting. I don't want a workout plan, I don't want to touch the machines, etc. The manager explained that they usually start everybody out on the machines. I reiterated what I wanted and said I won't pay for anything unless they do it my way. Magically I got my way. Imagine that.
  • JamieM8168
    JamieM8168 Posts: 248 Member
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    Update:
    I went back to gym today with renewed confidence after reading these posts. I was in middle of talking to manager about wanting programme set but wanted heavy lifting and free weights when one of instructors over heard and said ' a woman wanting heavy lifting- music to my ears'. So I've booked an appointment with him. Very chuffed. Thanks everyone for giving me the confidence to do this!

    That's great! Good luck!!