Free weights come in all shape and sizes. You have the dumbbells, a simple device with a specific weight that you usually use in pairs. You also have the kettlebells which look like a big steel ball with a handle on top. And lastly, the barbells which are pretty much the big brother of the dumbbells.
Smith machines, on the other hand, is a more specific kind of equipment. It consists of vertical steel rails that have notches, a bench, and a barbell that is fixed within those rails. It allows for the barbell to simply move vertically.
In theory, there is not that much difference between the two. They are mainly used for strength training or muscle building. Still, these devices have their own specialties and benefits which would hopefully help you determine which one to actually pick up for your workout routines.
Ease of use
From just one look, you would assume that weights are easier to use. After all, there is nothing mechanical about it. You simply pick it up and voila, you start working out. As opposed to smith machines that actually needs a run through and a little getting used to as there are so many ways to use this machine. It should also be noted that trainers have noticed that a lot of newcomers use this machine incorrectly which might lead to stagnant progress or even, injuries. When it comes to ease of use, you can’t go wrong with something so basic as the weights.
Working with weights can be a very dangerous activity. If you are lucky, maybe a muscle tear or strain could occur. But lifting heavy pieces of equipment may sometimes lead to accidents that might permanently injure or would require heavy rehabilitation. Despite the Smith machine looking a little bit intimidating than just your mere weights, there are reasons why this device has so many features. It has racks that allow the person working out to anchor the weights in case he becomes worried or lose balance or focus. Weights on the other hand, especially if you are working with heavy ones, would require a spotter – the person who would watch you from behind and step in in case of instability. In short, Smith machines are definitely safer than its counterpart.
While weights are instinctive wherein you just expect to simply lift it up and down. Variety is also recommended to engage different muscle groups. Smith machines allow for squats and bench presses. Because of its fixed nature, there is not much to do with this machine aside from these two activities. Weights, on the other hand, have more mobility and thus, allows for a wider range of motion and thus, works on more muscles. Take a look at online fitness equipment stores such as Little Bloke Fitness and you will see that there are a wide range of gym equipment and weights which offer different styles of workouts and will help you understand why some equipment is more beneficial over others. As for arm workouts, free weights let users train each side which may be helpful for certain situations such as injuries or rehabilitation.
Low Impact High Effectivity
Both are actually capable of being low impact workouts, simply just choose a lighter set of weights. However, one is more effective than the other. Smith machines, due to its repetitive movements and targeted engagement will eventually outweigh free weights especially if the user is not as well informed on suggested workouts. Chances are, smith machines would work on certain muscle groups longer which would help accelerate resistance and endurance training.
Truly, it still is up to the user’s preference on which one to choose on leg/glute or muscle building days. Both are commendable pieces of equipment and have been long proven to be effective with strength training. It just depends on how proficient you are with your machines or with your free weight exercises.