When we think of weight lifting we normally think of ‘free weights’. For the uninitiated, free weights are things like dumbbells and barbells that bodybuilders and power lifters will heave around in a gym in order to build muscle. When we say exercise equipment however, it refers to the machines and the devices that you use in order to help offer you resistance to make the process safer and to provide a range of unusual exercises. So what’s the difference in terms of the actual results? Which is better, and which should you use? Here we’ll address those issues.
First of all it’s important to recognise that there are actually two different types of exercise equipment – those that are akin to weight lifting with free weights, and those that provide CV. The ‘weight lifting exercise equipment’ is technically known as a ‘resistance machine’, and this means that it offers resistance through a set range of movement that mimics things like bicep curls and rows. But is this as beneficial?
Most resistance machines work by using a pulley attached at one end to some weight and at the other to a handle or pad. This then means that in pushing or pulling the handle or pad, the user can lift the weights. The devices are hinged so that they move in a very specific way and this means that the correct form is used, and that the weights can’t be dropped. This in turn prevents injury, but it also prevents you from ‘cheating’ by using your other muscles to ‘swing’ into the movement and thereby help yourself. That then ‘isolates’ the muscle you are working meaning that it is forced to work entirely on its own and gives it a better workout.
On the other hand however, using free weights means that you need to perfect the technique on your own, and it also means that because you are using your supporting muscles, you will be getting more of a full-body workout which will trigger the release of hormones such as growth hormone, and which will cause you to lose more weight and to develop better balance and coordination. You can also keep increasing your weight indefinitely with free weights, whereas resistance machines have an upper limit.
The other type of exercise equipment is CV. This is completely different and involves things like rowing, running and cycling – aerobic exercise that you perform continuously for a set period of time and that this way burns more fat and increases the strength of your heart. Whereas weight lifting and resistance machines are aimed squarely at developing brawn and muscle, these CV machines are intended to help you to lose weight and increase your cardio vascular fitness allowing you to run further and exert yourself more without running out of breath or energy. You can also do this without exercise equipment of course – by running or cycling around the area – but this will require a lot more space to move in.
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