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Free Weights vs. Weight Machines

Ask athletes, trainers and sports medicine specialists about improving muscle strength. While they'll all probably tell you that resistance exercises -- using free weights or weight machines -- are a good place to start, there's a good chance they'll disagree on which type of training is most effective.

A study in the Journal of Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy compared free weights with weight machines to determine which form of training produced the greatest strength and power gains in the lower body. Sixteen men and eight women performed progressive weight training exercises twice a week for six weeks using free weights (barbell squats) or weight machines (knee extensions and hip adduction).

Strength gains were evaluated at the end of the six-week period by way of three tests Significant improvements were seen in both groups in barbell squat, vertical jump, and knee extension tests, with slightly greater strength gains taking place in subjects participating in the free-weight program.

So which type of program should you follow? Perhaps both, although the answer depends on a variety of factors, including your physical condition, time constraints, and fitness goals. Ask your doctor of chiropractic to suggest nutritional and exercise guidelines most appropriate for you.


Augustsson J, Esko A, Thomee R, et al. Weight training of the thigh muscles using closed vs. open kinetic chain exercises: a comparison of performance enhancement. Journal of Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy, 1998, vol.27/no.1, pp5-8.

For additional information on sports and fitness, go to https://www.chiroweb.com/find/tellmeabout/sports.html


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