Workout Wednesday: Free weights or machine?

Walk into any gym and you'll see both free weights and machines for various strength training exercises.

So which one is better?

Local fitness expert Rhonda Murphy weighs the pros and cons for each to help you make that decision.

Rhonda says it's important to find a workout that best fits you.

She says to start with a variety of machines and free weights. When using free weights, you have to control the motion in every way. Bring the weights up and control their movement down.

Rhonda says you also have to control the motion side to side.

She says to remember to go light enough with your weights to have control; you can always increase your weight as needed.

Rhonda says building strength and endurance is also important. Free weight workouts are better for functional fitness.

She says exercise machines are easier to control so you can go heavier.

Rhonda says most machines function in one plane so you can focus on power and strength. When you use a chest machine, for instance, you have to push out with force and control the machine on the way back. The weight goes up and down and requires little to no balance. As a result, you can go heavy and do more reps. Chest machines work well for building muscle.

Rhonda says when using free weights for a chest press, you have to control the weights from side to side, keeping them from hyperextension and controlling it up and down. Free weights are best for overall fitness.
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