My monthly poll revealed that dumbbells, barbells and body weight exercises are the most preferred equipment choice. Cables and weight machines finished third and fourth. They may be less popular but there are definite advantages to using them.
-A cable station is a great mix between free weights and weight machines. They require the balance and co-ordination of the dumbbells but also have the controlled structure of the weight machines.
-Cables allow multiple exercises variations that you cannot even perform with dumbbells such as cable crossovers and glute kickbacks.
-Pulling a weight bench over to the cable station and doing free weight exercises with the cables such as pec flyes and skull crushers, add a new challenge to classic exercises.
-The biggest con of the cable station if that you will only find one in a gym. Not even every gym either! They are huge, take up a lot of room and are incredibly expensive. There are multi-gym home stations that provide cables but again, they are big and expensive.
-When a gym does provide cables, they are usually busy. You will end up taking turns with many people to try and get your sets completed.
-The safety risk with the cable equipment is the “snap back” of the cables. If you work until failure and the cables are in front of your face you need to be careful of them or the attachment hitting you on the way back to the start position. Or even jerking you backward with it. if you have long hair, tie it back so it does not get tangled. The Bowflex is a popular cable based machine that had serious problems with one model in particular. The snap back was so dangerous they all had to be recalled. Be careful!
-Weight machines are great for beginners. They mimic the movements of free weight exercises. What better way to learn a shoulder press, than on a shoulder press machine?
-Machines are relatively safe. As long as you follow the instructions on the machine and lift weights within your strength abilities, you should be absolutely injury free.
-They are wonderful for people getting back in to fitness after a long absence or injury.
-Weight machines do not require a spotter. You can lift without your personal trainer
-The ab machines are especially helpful if it is uncomfortable to preform crunches on your back.
-You don’t recruit the smaller muscles with weight machines. The fixed range of motion isolates one muscle group at a time.
-With free weights or cables you can perform compound exercises and hit many muscle groups at once. On weight machines you might have to spend a longer time working out, to get the same benefits.
-Weight machines have a limited range of motion so it doesn’t feel as natural as other equipment. This can affect muscle development and appearance. Remember, a full range of motion equals a full muscle. multihead weigher
-You can’t use machines forever. You will stop progressing. After you are feel comfortable with the exercises it’s time to move on to the advanced equipment.
All equipment has a place in exercise and fitness. Equipment that isn’t the most effective can be the best option for beginners. Other equipment gives great results but it takes up too much room or is too dangerous for inexperienced lifters. Fortunately, none of the popular equipment is “bad” or ineffective.