cables and free weights

by jeffrey ellis


Can you shed some light on working out with cables as well as free weights?

I fully understand when using free weights, moving the weight causes stabilizing muscles to be activated to move and balance the weight..

When using machines and cables the plane of motion is somewhat set and supposedly slightly easier..

If the goal of building larger more shapely muscle consists of breaking down muscle tissue with continued resistance and intensity to overload the muscles so that they can compensate by growing back stronger and slightly larger with the right nutrition, does it matter that much which method or tools ( free weight or cables) are used to achieve this goal?

I personally find cables good as there is constant tension to the muscles from top to bottom, but I constantly read they are useless for muscle growth.

Free weights however have a pause on most exercises at the top and bottom, also cables seem to isolate the muscles targeted more with less help from assisting muscle groups.

If the goal is to add weight, increase intensity and create constant tension with exercise on the muscles so that the fibers can be broken down and growth can take place, aren't cables and machines just as effective; if not better in some cases?

There are pros and cons to both.

Cable exercises only isolate one muscle at a time.
Free Weights work more muscle fibers in a single motion releasing more growth hormone.

You can switch weight between sets with cable exercises much faster than what you can with free weights.

Cables are definitely more safe and are recommended to reduce than chances of injury, and are preferred for injury rehabilitation.

Cable machine exercises adjust and stabilize the weight, where as free weight workouts force more muscle fibers in a single action which in turn utilizes for muscle fibers for stabilization. If you want to build a bigger stronger body, free weights are the way to go.

Free weights for building mass, cables and machines for that finishing touch. Both are good.

Hypothetically, if your goal was to build a bigger stronger body and you could only train with free weights, or only with cables, you would be better off using the free weights.

Now, if you could train with both cables and free weights in this hypothetical situation, well hey, that's even more variety and even better.

My personal note to you:

If you like cables and machine exercises better, use those exercises. Be mentally satisfied, healthy and injury free.

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