If you are one of the people that doesn’t join a gym for fear of not knowing what to do, you are not alone. I know there is so much info out there, that it can be mind boggling, and some of it contradictory to what you have heard in the past. I’m going to set the record straight, once again. Free weights are better than machines! Why…? For many reasons, that I will make very easy for you to understand, by using certain examples. Getting the most out of a workout in the least amount of time, while burning the most fat should be your top goal!
Lifting even a small dumbbell off of the floor recruits muscle fibers through your whole body.The act of balancing to pick up and position a dumbbell forces you to balance by tightening your core. Each time your muscles contract by doing this, you are burning calories, and strengthening your body!
1. For leg exercises, sitting on a machine requires no sense of balance, therefore, you only use the muscle that the machine is intended for…..as in a leg extension,which only relies on your quadricep muscle, the muscle in front of your leg. Using dumbbells for squats, and deadlifts, or a plate loaded barbell, will force you to use nearly every muscle in your lower body for balance, while strengthening your core, your glutes, your quads, and your hamstrings……all while burning many more calories!
2. For back exercises, if using a rowing machine, you are sitting on a bench, with your chest pushed up against a pad, and either pulling one arm back at a time, or both. Doing a bent over row with a dumbbell, requires you to balance by pulling in your abdominals, and hold yourself tight relying on your obliques for balance, while contracting your upper back to lift and lower the weight. If using pull ups, or chin ups, you rely on your back and your biceps, using your own body weight. You can practice pull ups with the barbell at hip height in the gym on the squat machine, and lay under the bar, reach up with arms a bit wider than shoulder width apart, pulling yourself up so your chest comes up to the bar, keeping your body straight. This uses every muscle in your back, and engages your core at the same time!
3. A seated chest exercise works only the front of your chest. Using dumbbells on a bench or a barbell while doing a chest press, engages your core, your chest, and the front of your shoulders, while going through the full range of motion. You can also do this on an incline, or decline, to target different areas of your chest.
4. Abdominals…….sitting on a machine and only pushing forward, will not take your body through the full range of motion to target the most muscles. Lying back on a stability ball with a very slight arch and hands behind your head while doing a crunch, by pulling yourself up while contracting your abs to a semi-sitting position recruits many more muscle fibers.
The bottom line is doing a workout either at home, or in a gym that works the most muscles at the same time. This saves time, burns more calories, and balances out your body. The most important thing is that working out like this mimics what the body must do in real life to stay strong, flexible, and uninjured.
Purchase a guide book, to familiarize yourself with the different exercises. Join a gym or get yourself a set of free weights. A stability ball has many uses and is a great addition to any home gym. Incorporate these tips into a great fat burning circuit training session in your own home.
Check with your doctor before starting anything new.
Free weights are very good for working one side of the body at a time if you find you have any imbalances either naturally, or from past injuries.
Most of all have fun, change it up often, and get strong.
You have the power to make these changes, now go do it!