Female wanting to add some muscle - free weights or machines- any preference?

I want to start lifting at a gym. I'm slim but I have no muscle so everything still jiggles. I went to a big gym yesterday and liked the circuit area with all the machines. Can I get a good weight lifting workout with just machines? My husband said I should use the free weights but I liked how easy it was to move between the different machines and quickly and easily change the weights.

Replies

  • RebeccaNaegle
    RebeccaNaegle Posts: 236 Member
    You really should use the free weights, they're able to provide more natural movements and more benefit overall. You will still get a benefit from the machines though, if that is what you are comfortable with do that for now. Make sure you're eating plenty of proteins.
  • Peskett3
    Peskett3 Posts: 1 Member
    Hi
  • musclesandmusic866
    musclesandmusic866 Posts: 1,396 Member
    You really should use the free weights, they're able to provide more natural movements and more benefit overall. You will still get a benefit from the machines though, if that is what you are comfortable with do that for now. Make sure you're eating plenty of proteins.

    This!
  • GingerPwr
    GingerPwr Posts: 1,979 Member
    I agree with @RebeccaNaegle Free weights are better because you have to use more muscle to lift and balance them. The machines balance them for you. So if you are totally brand new, maybe use the machines for a little while and progress to free weights.

    I just started Strong Lift 5x5, and it's a really good barbell lifting program for beginners. It's a simple workout with basic and consistent weight progression.

    Hope you have fun with the weights!
  • heybales
    heybales Posts: 18,842 Member
    Any resistance training that can overload the muscle telling the body to make more (if recovery and diet allow) will be good.

    Duration (sets & reps) and frequency (times per week) both need to be at a level weekly to provide enough time under load to create that stimulus.

    What usually happens with circuit is it's only working 1 muscle, whereas free weights can also, but you can also do compound moves and work 2-3, plus all the supporting muscles perhaps not even worked on machines.
    Like do bench press and work pecs and triceps. Row does back and biceps. Eventually that saves time or allows working more muscles in equal time.

    Depends on the machines - I've seen some Cybex that imitated free lifting moves, so at least compound for 2-3 muscles worked - but still no supporting muscles.
    Many times it's the supporting that needs to grow with main muscles.

    Good form is required in both, setup a machine seat height wrong and could cause same problems as bad form on free weights.

    Circuit can also cause problem if you attempt to do better sets method rather than jumping from machine to machine each time, and allowing too much time before you come back around to same muscle in circuit format, or not enough time if staying on machine for say 3 sets and other people are using the circuit too - they expect you to move along.
  • jessiefrancine
    jessiefrancine Posts: 271 Member
    I agree that free weights are best if you have the choice. Start with a solid beginner's program - good choices are Strong Lifts 5x5 (my personal fave), Starting Strength, New Rules for Lifting, Ice Cream Fitness - and read up on the moves. Most of them revolve around just a handful of compound lifts, like squats and bench press, so you can research how to do the lift by watching videos and reading tutorials. You might consider a few sessions with a personal trainer to learn the lifts, but that's not necessary for a lot of people.

    Once you've picked your program, just follow it and watch the results happen. Check out the MFP Stronglifts for Women group - solid advice on modifying the program for women and good people to go to if you have questions.

    http://community.myfitnesspal.com/en/group/4601-stronglifts-5x5-for-women
  • musclesandmusic866
    musclesandmusic866 Posts: 1,396 Member
    czvanut wrote: »
    I agree with @RebeccaNaegle Free weights are better because you have to use more muscle to lift and balance them. The machines balance them for you. So if you are totally brand new, maybe use the machines for a little while and progress to free weights.

    I just started Strong Lift 5x5, and it's a really good barbell lifting program for beginners. It's a simple workout with basic and consistent weight progression.

    Hope you have fun with the weights!

    Strong lifts is a great program. I still go back and use it when I want to change things up and increase my strength.
  • evivahealth
    evivahealth Posts: 567 Member
    My vote is for free weights to - they help with all kind of things like balance, coordination and whatnot as well as building strength.

    That being said, as a beginner there is absolutely no problem whatsoever with using the machines. I would speak to the trainer at the gym, explain what you're trying to achieve and ask them to show you how to use proper form on some of the machines/free weights and go from there. That will take the guess work out of weights/reps/sets for you as well.

    As you say, if you like the machines then go with them! If you enjoy something it is much more likely that you will do it consistently - it's more sustainable :)

    Awesome work getting into the weights either way xx
  • stanmann571
    stanmann571 Posts: 5,728 Member
    45 minutes Free weights with a good structured full body program will get you stronger, faster than 90 minutes with a machine circuit, simply due to efficiencies in working more muscle with fewer exercises.
  • tattygun
    tattygun Posts: 447 Member
    Preferably free weights with some machine work thrown in but...do what you enjoy for now, do what actually keeps your enthusiasm up and keeps you training...if you enjoy the machines then so be it.
  • kzooyogi
    kzooyogi Posts: 121 Member
    Free weights. Machines will build the individual muscles they are intended to work, but they fix the rest of the body so no other muscles will be working. Think of an overhead press - if you use the machine, your entire body, other than arms, is in a fixed position, so only the arms, shoulders, and a bit of rectus abdominus (to keep back pressing into the seat of the machine) are working. If you were to do it with free weights or a barbell, you'll incorporate all of the additional stabilizing muscles that are required to keep your body upright (legs, transversus abdominus, obliques, etc.).
  • thatdesertgirl777
    thatdesertgirl777 Posts: 269 Member
    tattygun wrote: »
    Preferably free weights with some machine work thrown in but...do what you enjoy for now, do what actually keeps your enthusiasm up and keeps you training...if you enjoy the machines then so be it.

    I agree with this :)

  • sijomial
    sijomial Posts: 19,811 Member
    You can do a good or bad routine with both machines or free weights.
    I tend to see both the best and worst routines being done with free weights!
    (Big compound lifts being performed with good form through to endless variations of bicep curls....)

    Personally I do mostly free weights but even after 40+ years there's still a place for machines in my routine.

    Both is a valid option.
  • CharlieBeansmomTracey
    CharlieBeansmomTracey Posts: 7,682 Member
    you get a better range of motion with free weights and can do so much more including compound lifts(working more than one body part at the same time) as compared to machines.I had a weight station thing in my home(it had weights and cables/chains) and it seemed that heavy weight with that was too easy,but once I changed to a barbell with weights It was harder and I had to have proper form but I seemed to get more out of it than I did the machine. so I gave it away and got a weight bench and some weights(no gym in my area).

    I like the free weights better and I can feel it in my muscles more than I did when using the machine I had.
  • Chadxx
    Chadxx Posts: 1,199 Member
    Definitely free weights
  • BenTheTransman
    BenTheTransman Posts: 11 Member
    I'd go free weights. They strengthen all the support muscles instead of just the target muscles.

    If you're finding that your target muscle is a bit weak, I'd go to the machine to buff it up a bit and then use free weights. The mechines should only be used for where you feel you're lacking, but free weights will also do that. I think they're more of an extreme measure than anything.
  • bbell1985
    bbell1985 Posts: 4,572 Member
    Free weights. I like a machine or two for some isolation work or if I'm feeling lazy, which is rare.
  • sardelsa
    sardelsa Posts: 9,812 Member
    While I do mostly free weights, I do incorporate cable work, as well as bodyweight, bands. So my vote is for both