A seeming consensus exists among bodybuilding experts regarding the superiority of free weights compared with machines for building muscle mass, to the point where machines have been defined by dedicated bodybuilders as virtually worthless for those seeking maximum muscle building. Furthermore, those same bodybuilders will claim that gyms outfitted with modern machines are in fact doing so in order to placate the lazy who thrive off of nice, shiny, attractive muscle building equipment, and who fear grueling, intense, muscle blasting workout sessions. This idea has been repeated so frequently and by such a wide variety of bodybuilders that there must be validity to such a claim; or, could this rank as another of the many muscle building misconceptions?

In reality, free weights are clearly not inferior to machines when used properly, as they allow a muscle complete range of motion, without constriction, and require a level of coordination that is not inherent in machine equivalent exercises, therefore free weights will increase the potential for muscle growth, but to what degree? By listening to the mainstream bodybuilding community, the advantage free weights provide is so astronomical that a weight lifter would need to be considered ignorant to use machines under any circumstances, yet, the truth regarding the muscle building advantages free weight provide is far less dramatic. In fact, assuming a bodybuilder is using the same weight lifting techniques with free weights and machines, his muscle building will prove to be virtually identical, to the point where even an experienced bodybuilding personal trainer could not determine the difference in muscle size between the two methods. Yet, because the free weight superiority misconception has been repeated so often, by such a large number of bodybuilders, the idea is propagated as fact, no different than a wide range of additional bodybuilding concepts that are, in fact, myths disguised as wisdom.

Not only are machines a suitable alternative for those wishing to achieve significant muscle gain, but machines may actually prove to be superior in long term muscle building due to the lower injury risk, and one of the most common reasons why bodybuilders are unable to achieve their muscle building genetic limits is due to joint, tendon, and common muscle tissue injuries that derail consistency, leading to frustrating unexpected layoffs, which ruins momentum, and eventually causes many to quit the bodybuilding process completely. Workout consistency ranks as one of the most important concepts in building maximum muscle mass, and free weights present an extra risk of injury and joint discomfort that can be greatly minimized by focusing on machines as a substitution for traditional free weight muscle building exercises.

In fact, after years of free weight bench pressing, I reached a point where my shoulder was experiencing a prolonged period of discomfort, to the point where I was unable to perform flat bench press with free weights, so I decided to experiment with an alternative. After purchasing my first Smith Machine, I started to once again perform bench press, and the discomfort I experienced with free weights on a continuous basis suddenly disappeared, to the point where I have since been able to successfully use the Smith Machine for excellent results without the injury setbacks. My muscle building results did not suffer due to the switch from free weights to the Smith Machine, but I was suddenly able to continue performing one of the most potent upper body muscle building workout exercises without discomfort, and this, alone, is reason enough to consider machines as a desirable and very effective alternative to free weights.

I feel that many of the bodybuilders who reject the notion of machines for muscle building are caught in a "traditional vs. modern" debate, where they feel free weights signify classic bodybuilding, while machines represent the antithesis of all that muscle building has historically entailed, defining the new era weight lifter who is not interested in maximum effort, but rather focuses on convenience and fluff. This idea is not foreign to other industries, such as automobile enthusiasts who feel that any individual preferring modern transmissions without a clutch are somehow less worthy of owning a sports car, when in fact this is a personal preference, and one that, in fact, allows the driver without the worry of manually shifting a clutch to potentially perform far better in other aspects of navigating an automobile. Free weights are the bodybuilder's clutch, so to speak, and for some, are frowned upon for superficial reasons.

So, if you enter a gym and find yourself surrounded by modern machines, and do not have a desire to focus on free weight muscle building, assuming you are using a potent diet and weight training workout routine, you can achieve the same muscle growth as those who stubbornly rely on free weights, but with less injuries to hamper your bodybuilding quest.

Author's Bio: 

Francesco Castano is the owner of IncrediBody, a physical fitness company dedicated to helping others learn exactly how to gain muscle mass and lose weight without supplements or drugs. He authors two programs, one called MuscleNOW, teaching the correct weight training and diet program to gain muscle mass without bodybuilding supplements at MuscleNOW.com, and Fat Vanish, which teaches how to lose weight & burn stomach fat for permanent weight loss, at FatVanish.com. He includes lifetime email personal training with both programs, where he personally assists all of his clients with training and diet questions, and has hundreds of testimonials validating the effectiveness of his techniques. He also offers weight lifting equipment, protein powder and fitness accessories at IncrediBody.com. Please visit his web sites, and feel free to contact Francesco at any time with your muscle building or weight loss questions!