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Combining Free Weights with Machines at the Gym

Free weights and machine weights are both great tools that can be used at your local gym in order to help you achieve your fitness goals. While free weights such as dumbbells can give you a great workout, machine weights may be a better choice for individuals who are new to exercise.

Set Goals for Yourself

One of the first steps to keep in mind when it comes to choosing between free weights and machines at the gym is to set goals for yourself. To do this, objectively evaluate your current fitness levels, and determine which areas need the most work. Do you have certain body parts that you want to focus on, or are you instead interested in total body weight loss? Set a goal for yourself based on these determinations.

When to Use Free Weights and When to Use Machines

Once you have set some basic goals for yourself, you must understand when to choose free weights and when to use machines. If you are new to exercise, you should spend most of your time with machines. In contrast, if you are an experienced exerciser, you should spend more time with free weights. Another consideration concerning when to choose between free and machine weights revolves around the amount of time you have for exercise. If you are strapped for time, choose free weights. Free weights typically engage more muscle groups, thus giving you a more complete workout. In contrast, machine weights typically focus on only one or two isolated muscle groups. While this may be good if you are a beginning exerciser and are trying to learn the basics, getting a total body workout this way can be very time intensive.

Track Your Progress

In order to achieve optimal results when it comes to combining free weights and machines at the gym, it is important to track your progress. Track not only how many calories that you burned each day, but also be sure to keep a written record that states the total amount of weight that you lifted with each exercise, any appropriate settings, and how you felt both before and after the exercise. This will be useful when working toward your long term health and fitness goals.

Preventing Injury

Be sure to keep some basic guidelines in mind in order to prevent injury when using free and machine weights while at the gym. One of the simplest tips is to remember to start slowly and work your way up. No matter if you are using free or machine weights, be sure to select a weight that you feel comfortable lifting. Gradually increase the amount of weight—remember that adding weight too quickly can result in serious injury. Research suggests that you should only increase your weights by 10 percent per week in order to achieve the best results.

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