Should you use free weights or machines?

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Free weights

We can’t quite put our finger on why, but there’s something manly about holding a pair of rusty old dumbbells in your hands. Plus, strength training using free weights will not only satisfy the alpha male in you – it’ll also help to improve your physical performance out on the pitch. A 2008 study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning noted improvements in acceleration, peak sprinting velocity and 40-metre sprint time, in a group taking part in strength training twice a week for seven weeks. A further study published in February of this year showed a group of young footballers who underwent a weights training programme suffered far fewer injuries during a season than a group who did no resistance work. 

1.“Free weights give you a greater range of movement, meaning you’ll use more muscles with every exercise,” says strength and conditioning expert Mathew Monte-Colombo. 

2.”When you use multiple muscle groups you burn more calories, so you’ll get a tougher workout with dumbbells or barbells.”

3. “Compound exercises like deadlifts and squats will also strengthen your core – machines won’t as they’re in a fixed position.”

DTX Fitness Dumbbells

2x Rubber encased hexagonal dumbbells

Highly rated by Amazon users
Ideal for advanced trainers and beginners


Resistance machines are the lifeblood of the modern super-gym, but can flashy pieces of technology really help you to hold your own on a bog of a Sunday League pitch in the middle of winter? Well, actually, it turns out they can. In 2008 the University of Saskatchewan in Canada decided to put a controlled group through an eight-week training programme using just weights machines and found knee extensor thickness increased by 4.9%. Strength also improved by an average of 13.9% across the major muscle groups that were trained. Even better, the study showed that levels of testosterone – the hormone you need to build muscle mass - were boosted by an average of 21% during resistance machine workouts. Give them a go and you’ll be bursting out of your jersey in no time at all.

1.”Machines are great when a player begins a resistance training programme and needs to build a base level of strength,” adds Monte-Colombo.

2.”Some players struggle to lunge and squat with correct technique, but it’s easy to teach a young player how to use a machine.”

3.”During injury rehabilitation, machines are a good way of isolating a specific muscle group and slowly adding resistance.”

Winner: Free weights

Sportstech Innovative 21in1 weight bench

A strong, versatile and extremely good quality bench

Weight plate stands
Very versatile

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