5 Reasons to Stick to Dumbbells and Barbells for Strength Training
1. More Engaged Muscles
Similarly, because you don’t have a machine to support you, free weights force you to stabilize and balance your weight, firing not just the primary muscle groups you’re targeting in a lift, but all the stabilizing muscles as well.
Think about being prone or seated in a machine that works your hamstrings and quads — not a lot needs to be engaged to ensure that you're performing a rep. There’s a very low chance that you’ll fall out of the machine without a tight core or engaged legs. When thinking about a loaded barbell on your back for a back squat, fired up cores, legs, and shoulders will not only help you perform every rep safely, but also give more of your body a workout. With all of this happening in every single rep, it should come as no surprise that using free weights has also been shown to improve overall balance and dexterity.
In short, using free weights is a two-for-one, targeting your bigger more superficial muscles while also taxing your smaller stabilizing muscles — and top of all that, achieving greater coordination.
2. More Real-life Benefits
When we bend down to pick up a heavy box, we don’t simply rely on sheer arm strength to lift it (at least if we’re aiming to do it safely). We would typically hinge at our hips and turn on our hamstrings, upper back, core, and arms to get that heavy load off the ground. Replace that box with a barbell and you’d be pretty close to completing a deadlift.
Because so many free-weight exercises mimic the strength we need in everyday activities, the result is more usable, functional strength. When you train with a weight machine, you’re not fully training for the world beyond the gym.
3. Improved Athleticism
In many Tempo classes, our coaches will task you with training unilaterally; that is, performing weighted exercises on just one side of your body. Our coaches do this because it’s important to develop strength on each side of your body independently. This identifies any body imbalances and improves strength. Second, unilateral training is a reflection of how we live our lives. Life won’t always be lived on flat ground, and strength training with free weights will help us better navigate the terrain the world throws at us.
And, of course, improved coordination and unilateral strength will show up in more competitive environments like sports. Catching a ball while running, being able to stop and pivot mid-run, tackling that climbing wall that much faster — it’s all a product of a combination of added strength and agility.
4. Optimal Strength Development
Why Tempo Uses Free Weights
That concern is completely valid and is the main driver behind Tempo’s growing AI-powered 3D Vision that provides instant form feedback when you’re training. If you’re leaning too far back in a bicep curl, if there is asymmetry with your barbel during a deadlift, or if your knees seem to be tracking too far forward in a squat, Tempo will let you know.