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Which is better for building big, muscular arms: free weights or weight training machines?

Which is better for building big, muscular arms: free weights or weight training machines?

When it comes to creating big, muscular arms, I'm frequently asked if machines or free weights are superior. So, as the "Master Gunslinger," I can only speak from my 20+ years of arm-building knowledge. And, based on my experience, free weights are unquestionably the finest way to create huge, strong arms - especially if you're a beginner bodybuilder.

Now, I can already here the "Bowflex" haters crying fowl, but if you truly want to develop the muscle density, strength, and symmetry required for Truly Awesome Arms(TM), free weights are the only way to go. Beginning bodybuilders have had a propensity to believe that those elastic wires and shiny grips must be better than bulky old dumbbells for creating great arms since the introduction of weight training equipment.

This perception is based on slick marketing as well as a lack of expertise. However, while arm training machines are fantastic for shaping your biceps, triceps, and forearms, they aren't very good for bulking up or improving physical power. Free weights are definitely superior than machines when it comes to increasing the size and strength of your arms for the following reasons.

First, have you ever observed that no matter what exercise you compare it to, whether preacher curls, triceps extensions, or parallel bar dips, you can always use more weight than you can with free weights on a machine? The difference is simple: the machine aids you in performing these workouts in a way that free weights do not!

Your biceps, triceps, and forearms must produce all of the power required to complete the workout motion when you train your arms with free weights. The strength required to counteract gravity, balance the weight, and cause it to curl upward or extend outward must come from your arms. Free weights, unlike machines, do not have wires, strings, bolts, or fancy grips to help you complete your biceps curls or triceps extensions.

Second, unlike free weights, which allow you to control the resistance angle and range of motion throughout an exercise, machines do not allow you to do so. For example, I've done preacher curls with a machine and with free weights, and there's no comparison in terms of resistance angle or range of motion between the two workouts. Whether using an EZ Curl bar or dumbbells, free weights are considerably superior for growing biceps bulk and power with preacher curls.The same may be said for triceps extensions performed with dumbbells or an EZ Curl bar vs. triceps extensions performed on a triceps extension machine. The free weights provide extra resistance to the triceps and provide a wider range of motion for this exercise. During each extension of the weight, the increased resistance and range of motion engages more muscle fibers, forcing the triceps to work more and grow quicker than they would with machine extensions.

I'm not saying arm training devices are absolutely useless in terms of workout diversity or shaping actions. Machines are also great for high-rep exercises or advanced training like descending sets, super sets, and monster sets. However, in the early phases of your training, you should concentrate your efforts on working mostly with free weights to build mass and power in your biceps, triceps, and forearms. When deciding whether to use machines or free weights in your next arm-building workout, you're better off going with the clunky old dumbbells, even if they don't look as fancy as those gleaming machines.