Dumbells Vs Barbells Vs Machine Poll

Discussion in 'General Training' started by Garratt, Apr 2, 2002.

  1. Lil Popa Pump

    Lil Popa Pump New Member

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    I would have to do some research, but I am betting the coeffcients from those charts are an average. It does not make sense to me to have them be a &quot;minimal value&quot;.

    I have more to say, bit no time!!

    Cheers (are you from England?)
     
  2. Sharivan

    Sharivan Guest

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    &quot;But one has to admit that he didnĀ“t bring the ultimate &quot;bodybuilding solution/formula&quot; in terms of training philosophy/methodology.&quot;

    I'm not sure... :D
     
  3. vicious

    vicious New Member

    You know, Little Scott Steiner, it turns out Thomson Linear Bearings (with which Vince designed his equipment) has a coefficient approaching 0.01(&#33;)

    I'm a big fan of Arthur Jones's work. His Nautilus Pullover may be the greatest machine movement ever invented. Brian Johnston's work, though, is the finest in the HIT school.

    cheers,
    Jules
     
  4. Vince Basile

    Vince Basile New Member

    It is interesting that the survey shows that for every person who favours machines there are 12 who believe in free weights. If these beliefs are representative then gyms should forget about fancy machines and install more free weights! Let us hope that never happens.

    I have always wanted a small free weight gym out back for muscle heads to exclusively use. That, of course, means they cannot use the other facility. This arrangement would be good for business.

    Now about friction in machines. For machines with weight stacks you have some kind of guide mechanism on the shafts of the stacks and also pulleys connecting to the movement arm. The original Nautilus machines used bronze bushes on their sprockets and these were not as frictionfree as bearings. Recent Nautilus machines claim to be low-friction because they no longer use bushes.

    Bushes in weight stacks can clog because of dirt, oil and moisture. Foolish gym owners often use the incorrect lubricant such as silicon based ones that tend to clog. Most gym equipment is kept maintained by cleaning the shafts and applying a thin coating of sewing machine oil. For linear bearings the oil is needed to prevent the balls from rusting. The friction in linear bearings is around .002 on some brands and much less for the superior but more expensive Thompson brand. Most other bearings are at the .002 to .003 level.

    The friction in ball bearings is almost the same whether the apparatus is motionless or moving. However, with bushes there is a much larger degree of effort needed to get the apparatus going.

    If everything is engineered properly there shouldn't be any detectable friction in the system. I well remember sharing a factory with an engineer for a time back in the mid eighties. When I installed some machines I built in my gym he visited me and sat in a corner watching the guys workout. After half an hour he came over to me to congratulate me. He told me that what he saw was very impressive. He heard no noise from machines with moving parts in use and that was a result engineers would be proud of. I was trained in philosophy so it was a compliment to hear. Of course, you do hear noises when guys lower the weights to the stack!

    On another occasion a company flew me to Adelaide to assist with a leg press machine design. I was taken to the headquarters of a large bearing company to discuss the use of linear bearings in gym equipment. This was in 1986. Well, the gym equipment president had to go to the bathroom during the meeting and the engineers of the bearing company asked me if I had training as an engineer. I told them I did not. Then how did I know what I was talking about? I read the bearing manuals from the bearing companies and I conducted experiments with certain combinations of bearings and materials. One engineer said the hardness of chome plating should protect steel shafts from damage. I laughed at the idea. Linear bearings require special induction or case hardened shafts if they are going to be carrying loads. The analogy of a thin layer of ice and walking over it is the same as using a layer of chrome on soft shafts. How did I know? I got a piece of chromed shafting and ran a linear bearing over it and caused scoring by hand pressure alone. QED. The executives in those bearing companies should have done some engineering instead of staying in those offices all day.

    Most modern gym equipment is virtually free from friction. However, gym owners complicate things by not maintaining equipment and often let things deteriorate until bearings disintegrate instead of providing lubrication. I often swear at Arthur Jones for using chains in the original Nautilus equipment. Chains need regular lubrication or they can rust and break. They also stretch if heavy loads are used. On machines with a double link they are strong enough but still need lubrication. After a while those chains turn black and attract dust. Most modern machines use cables or belts because they are easier to maintain and are cleaner. Sealed ball bearings do not need lubrication but other types might.

    Sorry about this diversion into gym equipment. All types of equipment, including free weights, are just tools. I recommend using the best tools available. Keep an open mind and try the various offerings that gyms install. You might be pleasantly surprised by how much better your workouts can be if you use superior equipment.
     
  5. Lil Popa Pump

    Lil Popa Pump New Member

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    Lil Scott Steiner.....LOL

    I recently did an interview with Brain Johnston for an online fitness mag, and he talked about his change in philosophy. So, he'd probably argue that he is no longer in the HIT camp.

    I love that Pullover....I wish I had access to one again... [​IMG]
     
  6. Vince Basile

    Vince Basile New Member

    The Nautilus pullover machine was a breakthrough in a design to provide an alternative for lats. I read all the ads that Arthur composed and was looking forward to training on his machines. The pullover did very little for me. I preferred the lat pulldown machine that Nautilus had where you pulled two handles down towards you. Lifefitness make a similar machine which feels good.

    The reason the Nautilus pullover is lacking, in my opinion, is because the movement should be in an arc and not a circle. It doesn't feel right when you go heavy and that is always the test of how a machine should feel. An example of this is the Horizontal leg press made by Cybex. It felt good for light and medium weights but hurt the knees when heavy weights were used. Nautilus made a good leg press machine and also the Duo-Squat machine which is kinder to knees that most anything else that has ever been made.

    I haven't designed a lat pulldown machine other than the typical straight pulley variety. I know what is required but haven't got around to building it. It would use some of the ideas from a pullover but have a different arc. It is a good idea to have a machine that can be operated without handgrips. That would save the elbows which is a limiting factor in heavy pulldowns.

    I will allow that if an individual loves a certain machine that makes that machine good for him. However, the test of excellence is whether everyone finds such machines great to use. That is far more difficult to achieve.
     
  7. vicious

    vicious New Member

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    That's interesting, how do you mean? I feel that way about pec-dec and machine fly movements.

    I actually like the Cybex pullover more than the Nautilus. The cam design is quite crap (WAY too much resistance at the bottom), but the ergonomics seem better for me.

    The pullover is the only exercise where I can feel my entire lat section *FLEXING* That feeling is the dog's bollox mate. :)

    cheers,
    Jules
     
  8. McRhomboids

    McRhomboids New Member

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    I am only familiar with machines that work on one fixed plane of motion. For my first year of training, I worked out primarily on Nautilaus machines.

    Take a look at the basic dumbell bench press. The weights have the ability to go in a number of directions. In order to train all of the same muscles and small ligaments involved in a dumbell bench press using only machines that work in fixed planes of motion would take numerous machines/exercises.
     
  9. Lil Popa Pump

    Lil Popa Pump New Member

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    That is just not true. Like I said, name a super-secret-small-untrainable-muscle-but-by-dumbells....you haven't and you can't becaue the term STABILZER is CONTEXTUAL. What I mean by &quot;contextual&quot; is that in some exercises, a muscle will be a prime mover, and in another exercise the exact same muscle will act as a stabilzer. Therefore, the fact that a machine may operate in one (or two) planes is irrelevant. It is basic kinesiology. There are no &quot;small stabilizer muscles&quot; per se (and whoever tells you that there are is a fool or a liar), some muscle's main function may be to stabilize the body (eg the erector spinae), however, even those muscles can be traines and some most effectively trained via machines. Again, it is basic science.
    There are some very good kinesiology books by Human Kinetics. I suggest you get one and read. Don't just repeat the old-school orthodoxy without first testing the othodoxy with critical thought and independent investigation.
     
  10. Vince Basile

    Vince Basile New Member

    The stabilizer debate reveals that lots of theories are accepted in physical culture without solid support. That muscles act as stabilizers does not mean there are specific stabilizer muscles. That is a simple error but one believed by probably 99% of the exercising community. Again, believing something does not make it true.

    The debate about free weights vs machines is another one relying on those silly myths. It should be an amusing instead of a serious enquiry. I think the idea that free weights are better has been refuted by gym equipment companies. However, long-held beliefs have a way of persisting in subcultures like bodybuilding. Our activity has been virtually ignored by science and so the false beliefs remain unchallenged. No wonder we are seen, collectively, as being rather unenlightened and somewhat thick!

    There is no substitute for knowledge. The best place to get knowledge about the body is by studying anatomy and physiology and not reading bodybuilding magazines or books. Nutrition is another area of massive misinformation!
     
  11. Fausto

    Fausto HST Expert

    I'll have to take my hat off for Vince, even though he can be pretty much a &quot;guy in a mission&quot; he knows what he is talking about :)

    One other thing is this: Guys we need to understand that there are no absolutes in the B/B world, Bryan proved with HST but that is not all there is a lot more to it, for instance we cannot absolutely say that the B/B or the D/B is better that a machine, I believe that specially for those of us who train at home, machines
     
  12. Fausto

    Fausto HST Expert

    I'll have to take my hat off for Vince, even though he can be pretty much a &quot;guy in a mission&quot; he knows what he is talking about :)

    One other thing is this: Guys we need to understand that there are no absolutes in the B/B world, Bryan proved with HST but that is not all there is a lot more to it, for instance we cannot absolutely say that the B/B or the D/B is better that a machine, I believe that specially for those of us who train at home, machines are rather useful. [​IMG]

    Also we must not be &quot;Bull Headed or is it Pig Headed&quot; about waht we &quot;think&quot; works because there are others out there quite ready to prove us wrong and they might even do so...given 1/2 a chance. I believe machines specially those that have bearings (no...I don't have that much experience with them :mad:) with such low friction as 0.02 and 0.03, they should actually be a pleasure to use, unfortunately Vince they are not affordable for the normal guy, but yes for gyms they should be a must [​IMG]

    Many exercices are safer to do on a machine than with free weights, Vince is right [​IMG] specially when the weight starts getting heavier, and it has nothing to do with being chicken but a lot to do with safety and ... looking after joints, muscles, and overall well being, that is the way we should check it out.

    'nough said'

    Fausto
     
  13. vicious

    vicious New Member

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    I agree with Lil Poppa Pump. A crucial point.

    Although muscle contracts/expands in just &quot;one plane&quot;, stabilization does effect a neural feedback loop which increases fiber recruitment in all muscles used in said movement.

    You can emulate this on machines by &quot;crushing&quot; the machine grips while performing the movement.

    cheers,
    Jules
     
  14. RSS

    RSS New Member

    I completely agree with Vince and Lil Popa Pump that these so called stabiliser muscles are not specifically stabiliser muscles, they just happen to be being used for stabilising in a particular movement. In a different movement, they may actually be the prime movers, and can therefore be trained perfectly adequately using machines. So I don't believe in any argument against machines where there is an assumption that if only machines are used, certain &quot;stabiliser&quot; muscles are left untrained.

    I do, however, generally prefer free weights (usually dumbbells) to machines. One of the reasons is that when using dumbbells, there is a lot more co-ordination involved than with machines. Machines only allow you to move the load in a pre-set path, so there is no need to balance it, and it doesn't matter if you are not even pushing in exactly the right direction (obviously it is more efficient if you do), the movement will still follow its pre-set path. If your only concern is hypertrophy then this is not really a problem, but I believe that the co-ordination learned in moving the dumbbells will translate into more usable strength in the real world.

    One piece of evidence to support this is that in the past when I have used a machine exclusively for a while, and gained a significant amount of strength from using that machine (eg. horizontal leg press machine, or shoulder press machine), then changed to using free weights (in this case squats and seated dumbbell press), I have found that I have not been able to lift as much weight as I was previously able to with the free weights, until the co-ordination was re-learned. However when having gained strength by using free weights exclusively for a while, then changing to machines, the strength increase is immediately evident, as there is no co-ordination to be learned.

    I realise that even the free weight movements are not exactly duplicates of real life movements where you may be handling heavy loads, but they come closer to simulating a real life situation than a machine does, as it is very rare that you will be lifting something that only moves in a fixed path and requires no balancing or co-ordination. Many machines don't even allow the limbs to move independently, so the dominant limb can push harder than the weaker one with no indication that this is happening. (I know that with the better machines this is not the case, but the previous argument still applies)

    Another reason that I favour free weights is that when I workout in different places, due to travelling etc, it is very rare that I find the exact same machines from gym to gym. loads on one machine are not necessarily equivalent to the same loads on another due to different machine designs giving different mechanical advantages in moving these loads. This makes it hard to gauge weight progression (especially with HST) or achieve any kind of consistency when changing gyms. If I use free weights, I know exactly where I stand - a 40kg dumbbell is always a 40kg dumbbell no-matter where I am. If I want to increase the load by 2.5kg for each arm, I know that using the 42.5kg dumbbells will allow me to do that, rather than fiddling around on a machine for a while trying to find out where to put the pin, or how many plates to load on to it in order to get a slightly higher load than the one in the last gym that had a different machine, with a slightly different design and movement path.

    I agree that theoretically the ideal machine could provide a better stimulus for hypertrophy than free weights, by providing a more constant load on the target muscles throughout the whole range of movement. But in practice I don't find many of these ideal machines around. Also the ideal machine would be built specifically for your own body proportions. The ideal arc for a given movement will differ slightly form person to person based on their limb lengths and proportions. To build a machine that could provide the ideal movement arc for everyone would require it to be adjustable in quite a few different ways, especially when we are dealing with compound movements. This would probably end up being quite complicated to adjust and set up perfectly for a given individual, whereas with free weights are able to move in the path that you find most comfortable with no need for any complications.

    Free weights are just more versatile than machines. I agree that for any given free weight exercise it would be possible to build a machine that gave a slightly better hypertrophy stimulus, but to duplicate every subtle variation of every exercise that you can achieve with free weights would require an inordinate amount of machines - machines that I don't generally find when I look around gyms. More often than not, what I find is machines that don't move in the exact arc that I would like them to move in, sometimes with noticeable friction, and with not much more in the way of adjustment than seat height, and no allowance for the fact that different length limbs will ideally follow different movement arcs.

    Free weights are not perfect, but they are good, and they are reliable.

    Rob
     
  15. lazyeyepsycho

    lazyeyepsycho New Member

    yep....i like machines but if i could only do free weights or machines.......free weights would be by far my first pick [​IMG]

    lets not forget that Mr pro machine/anti free weights has a vested interest in selling that idea.
     
  16. Vince Basile

    Vince Basile New Member

    If you are an experienced bodybuilder and prefer free weights then you are merely stating that you like using them. If you state your reasons then that supports your preference.

    However, the question about whether free weights or machines are superior for hypertrophy has to be answered in the laboratory and not on discussion boards.

    What can be discussed and debated are the reasons people give to support their choices and preferences.

    Convenience. There is nothing convenient about free weights. If you have nothing else then use them. You do need strong benches to get a good workout. Bench presses should have safety supports in case you can't finish the last rep. Safety rails should be built into most free weight apparatus: squat racks, incline and decline benchs, seated presses, etc.

    Specificity. If you want to get stronger at arm wrestling then practice arm wrestling. Specific movements do not transfer that much to coordinated movements in sport. The history of shot put training proves this. Generally, stronger people throw the shot further, but specific exercises are not that effective. If a person is a good athlete the additional coordination acquired from lifting weights is negligible.

    Transfer. There is evidence that training on specific equipment makes you better if you are tested on that equipment. There is little transfer to other apparatus unless the movements are almost identical. Strength developed on machines can still be measured even though it doesn't transfer to free weight lifts. All bodybuilders know this and that is why they do several movements for each muscle group in their training. Well, that is what usually happens.

    Ubiquitiousness. Yes, free weights everywhere are more similar than machines. The truth is that travelling to different gyms can be an enjoyable variation. Bodybuilders can get a good workout regardless of the equipment. Less serious trainees can enjoy the many equipment brands that are out there. It is true that some equipment is superior to others but in recent years most equipment is satisfactory. Lots of equipment companies have gone broke or have been taken over by larger companies. It is a simple matter to select an appropriate bodybuilding gym when visiting another city.

    Simplicity. Yes, free weights win here. That is the main advantage of these tools. If designers try to make machines perfect they do become more complicated. Early Nautilus machines tried to be complicated so that everyone marvelled at them. Today those complicated machines look like dinosaurs! I built a biceps-supinator machine that is the most complicated machine built for the arms. That is because you can do two movements with resistance simultaneously. I will be working on a simpler version to make it commercially viable. Cost always limits what is possible to build for gyms. Gym owners are some of the stingiest people in the universe!

    Designs. Some dumbbells are superior to others. However, they don't vary all that much. I built a solid stainless steel set for a gym back in 1984. They revolved when used. That was a nice set to use. When experienced trainees do the designing of equipment it is usually superior to what mere engineers can produce. Smart engineers can test products and get it right, too.

    Means to an end. All tools can be useful to build muscles. Most bodybuilders use whatever is effective. Most employ movements they have used in the past. Thus, free weights and machines are used by just about everyone. On certain muscles machines are used almost exclusively. Calves, come to mind.

    Evolution. The longer I have been in bodybuilding the more I have seen machines evolve to be part of training. This is not an accident. Gym owners might be cheapskates but they have to install the equipment that people want. Today most gyms have evolved to have good sections for free weights and machines. I can't see that this will ever change. In the future superior machines will be built that will replace most free weight movements.

    I will always remember the demonstation Ray Mentzer made in his seminar. When discussing the chest exercises he would get a participant out front and have the guy replicate the bench press. When the arms are in the locked position Ray would bend the elbow and then push the arm towards the body. In all cases it was obvious that the chest wasn't being completed contracted. That was an interesting lesson. We often do lots of things believing this and that while we might be completely mistaken about what we are trying to achieve.

    Yes, bench presses do build pecs. However, in many people this movement is not a good one and there are better exercise for those muscles. Some lucky people do build large pecs using the bench but many others do not. Who out there in the old days blamed the exercise?
     
  17. Lil Popa Pump

    Lil Popa Pump New Member

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    Let's not forget the logic/argument flaw titled the &quot;genetic fallacy&quot;.
     
  18. tomahawk

    tomahawk New Member

    :D I just wanted to add my recent experience. No science, merely an observation. I usually train at home, with free weights. A new gym recently opened nearby, and I got a free pass. They have A LOT of brand new Hammer &amp; Lifefitness eqpt., so I went through my workout , mostly on the Hammer stuff. It's really nice, but here's my experiment: I was ablt to do 2 sets of 5 with the Hammer seated shoulder press with 160 lbs. It felt very doable, had a rep at least left at the end of each set. My next w/o back in my cellar, it was hard to get 5 reps with 150 lbs. loaded on the barbell. does that make it &quot;better' ? Not necessarily, but I think the transfer of strength only goes from free weights -&gt; machines and not vice versa. Bottom line ? The Hammer stuff was wicked nice to use, but my bar and plates will probably get the job done too.
    Fun ? No doubt, those machines making lifting a joy, so they will work too, if you put enough effort into it. Interesting, and BTW, my first HST cycle has sent me into PR weights in virtually everything. Amazing !

    Tom.
     
  19. jessejr

    jessejr New Member

    Steve McDermott,

    If you are having trouble heaving those heavy dumbells up to do presses I've got a solution for you.

    I had the same issue with my olympic dumbells. While browsing in my local weight lifting store I found a solution. I found a set of small hangers especially designed for this purpose. You have to use a hammer to get the darn things on the dumbell, but they won't come off.

    Once you've installed the hangers, you hang your dumbells on the olympic bar on your bench press, or whatever and simply lift the dumbells from any starting position you desire. You can do this for virtually any lift that you use dumbells for.

    I don't know the official name of these things, but I can get it if you are interested.

    Regards,
    Jesse

    Regards,
    Jesse
     
  20. jessejr

    jessejr New Member

    I would like to weigh in on this subject of machines versus free weights.

    There are a lot of tools in our tool box to build a great body. To focus on the use of one technology, or another is to limit the options one has available to build a great body and gain a competitive edge.

    I personally want to use every tool available to beat the competitors. To limit my options is to risk giving the competition the edge.

    Regards,
    Jesse
     

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