In the gym there are usually two main areas for resistance exercises; the free weights section (dumbbells and barbells) and the machine area, but which one should you use? This research paper looked at using free weights or exercise machines and their effects on building strength and muscle size (muscle hypertrophy). What they found was that as long as the exercise biomechanics and movements where the same, the end results where equal. Therefore, doing free weights or machines will make no difference on your results so you can choose whichever you prefer. There are still some benefits to each however, free weights tend to require you to stabilise more so you will use more of the small muscles of the body whilst machines tend to be more stable and so a little bit safer.
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