The recommended form of resistance is free weight where you are allowed to move freely during the exercise.
Most machines lock you into a single plane of motion and can lead to weaknesses, imbalances, and even injury. I recommend the switch to free weights whenever possible. If you must use a machine, work on adding resistance to the exercises and you will get results.
Free weights work a larger amount of muscle so results may be slightly slower with machines. Machines do have their uses, though, and they will provide nice results and not as much stress to the body as free weights.
Surprise! It Doesn’t Have to be a Barbell!
Here are just some of the different forms of resistance you can use for your weight lifting workouts:
I want to be clear here: you can use any type of resistance as long as you are able to safely increase that resistance over time.
For example, trying to place weight plates on your back for push ups isn’t very safe. Instead you could get a weighted vest that allows you easily add progressive amounts of resistance.
You Need a Safe Way to Increase Weight by Large Amounts
You need a method of adding a large amount of resistance over time. For example, let’s say you only have dumbbells from 5 to 15 pounds. That’s not going to be enough in most cases.
You should have an adjustable set of dumbbells or a set that goes from low weight to high weight (5 to 90 pounds works for most people — later you can upgrade to even larger dumbbells as needed).
Body weight exercises will help you get in better shape and you can work on adding reps to any type of body weight exercises but you will get better results by finding a way to add resistance to your body weight. A weighted vest can work well or a belt that allows you to attach weight plates.
If you continue to use the same amount of resistance over and over, your body isn’t going to change compared to adding progressively heavier weight to the exercises you are doing.
Use ANY Form of Resistance but Make It Safe
I want to make one thing clear here: you can use any form of resistance as long as it’s safe to use and you can progressively add larger amounts of weight over time.
There are so many ways of adding progressive resistance. Use your imagination.
As an example, you can take galvanized pipe of different lengths and fill them with concrete.
Make a handle with a reducing coupling and you have your very own clubbells.
The options here are endless. Free weights are highly recommended. It doesn’t matter what type of free weight. I just don’t want you to get locked into a specific plane of motion with machines.
If you have free weights available, please use them!