free weights vs machines on compounds

Discussion in 'Hypertrophy-Specific Training (HST)' started by k_dean_curtis, Sep 7, 2014.

  1. k_dean_curtis

    k_dean_curtis Member

    Age old debate, I know. Rippetoe hates machines, says most isolations are useless.
    Brian's sample routine has a mix of all. What are folks' opinions here regarding
    1. Free weight compounds
    2. Machine compounds (on good stuff like Hammer, et al)
    3. Machine isolations (ditto, on good stuff)

    in regards to

    A. Hypertrophy
    B. Joint friendliness, mainly for us older guys and gals

    of course in the context of setting up your HST cycle.

    For me, I have found some of the SS exercises (big 5 and chins) to be extremely picky regarding perfect form for an individual, and even then injuries happen. E.g. hurt my hip doing squats, getting wrist pain with fully supinated chins. Obviously, some machines are awful on some joints too, but assuming some common sense in usage here.

    I strongly recommend Bill de Simone's books on Moment Arm and Congruent Exercise, great stuff.

    Regarding hypertrophy, IMHO a specific muscle does not care about the context, all that matters is the load it receives. But all 30 or so possible isolation exercises (rotator cuff, shins, neck, etc) 3 times a week is a bit much :) Hence the once a week body part splits of most "bros". So practically, that is why we use mostly compounds in a cycle.

    All thoughts appreciated.
  2. Jester

    Jester Well-Known Member

    Compounds are better for a wide variety of reasons, however certain machines are very useful;

    -Lat pulldown
    -Nautilus pullover
    -Leg curl (yay biceps femoris)
    -Leg press variants (some only)
    -General/non-specific cable stack

    If you're trying to get bigger arms, I don't think machine are the way to go unless you're happy with destroyed joints as well.

    Starting Strength is a rather poor program as well - but that's a wholly different discussion.

    Compounds are favoured for;

    -Strength gains (meaning accompanying/following size gains)
    -Coordination gains
    -Speed gains
    -Caloric expenditure
    -Safety (leg extension is the king of injury, squat is the king of knee health)
    -Joint impact
  3. Lol

    Lol Super Moderator Staff Member

    Certain machine exercises can prove useful during periods of rehab following an injury.
  4. adpowah

    adpowah Active Member

    I find free weights almost always superior to machines in building health and muscle and I find compounds superior to isolation for hypertrophy and strength gains. Not that machines and isolations don't have their place but for me it is very limited.
    Jester likes this.
  5. Bulldog

    Bulldog Active Member

    I only use machines if the help relieve issues from injuries. For example, any barbell flat or incline bench pressing will end up giving my left shoulder fits after a couple of months, but I can use the Hammar Strength Iso-Lateral Incline Chest Press machine (plate loaded) with almost no shoulder issues. I just wish they let you start from an extended top position so that I could use more weight. It would also be cool if they let you start from the top position and also had a way to use your legs to help "re-rack the weight" for doing negatives.
  6. leonardopm

    leonardopm Member

    I always liked more the free weights, it feels easier on my joints. I have rheumatic issues and dislike most machine movements. I also feel that free weights deliver a more strong and functional body, due to the stabilization required to maintain correct form, specially the core muscles.

    A few months ago I dropped all my Smith movements (except bench press) and replaced with free weights. My shoulder and my knees are much better now. I know there are some good machines around but I don't see them, except in very expensive gyms.
  7. Old and Grey

    Old and Grey Super Moderator Staff Member

    Free weights are better if you have a competent training partner. Otherwise, use machines or lighter free weights. Safety always is more important than results.

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