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Are Weights Or Machines Better For Muscle Growth?


Both free weights and machines are great for hypertrophy, seeing as both can utilise the 3 drivers of hypertrophy: mechanical tension, metabolic stress and muscle damage (Schoenfeld 2012). However some research suggests that, perhaps free weights are better for increasing strength (Spennewyn 2008)

Machines are better for muscle isolation, seeing as free weights lead to higher overall EMG activity (Schwanbeck et al., 2009, Schick et al., 2010). As well as this, machines have a fixed bar path, which may be seen as a positive or negative, but what it does mean is that they are generally safer

To conclude, both are effective for building muscle and should be included in your routine. Free weights offer greater total muscle activity and so may be better for athletes, whereas machines may be preferential during injury rehab