47 comments / Posted on by Team TohoFit

Free Weights, Machines, and Tribal Thinking

To get better, question the rules, just like great coaches do. Here's how one coach did it.

by Charles Staley April 3, 2018

Free Weights vs. Machines

I've become less of a "tribal" thinker over the years. Earlier in my career, I believed that resistance-training machines were inferior to free weights. I'd argue that machines only required you to overcome the resistance, not control it.

 

Put another way, I believed that machines were "too stable." At the time I loved Paul Chek's quote: "Machines are like sleeping pills for the nervous system."

 

But here's what I now consider to be an embarrassing disconnect on my part: At the same time I was dissing machines, I'd also scoff at "stabilization" exercises (drills performed on the BOSU or on one leg for example) as inferior because the instability involved doesn't allow you to generate as much force as you could if you were stable. Using this logic, machines would be a GREAT choice, right?

 

Looking back, I now realize I had an ideology to defend: I disliked machines because I saw that people often used machines as an "easy way out" when they should be taking the time to learn how to use free weights.

 

In other words, I placed a high value on developing free-weight skills and looked down on anyone who didn't feel.

 

References: https://www.t-nation.com/training/tip-free-weights-machines-and-tribal-thinking

 

 

 

Charles Staley is an accomplished strength coach who specializes in helping older athletes reclaim their physicality and vitality. At age 56, Charles is leaner than ever, injury free, and in his lifetime best shape. His PRs include a 400-pound squat, 510-pound deadlift, and a 17 chin-up max. 

Follow Charles Staley on Facebook

Free Weights, Machines, and Tribal Thinking

To get better, question the rules, just like great coaches do. Here's how one coach did it.

by Charles Staley April 3, 2018

Free Weights vs. Machines

I've become less of a "tribal" thinker over the years. Earlier in my career, I believed that resistance-training machines were inferior to free weights. I'd argue that machines only required you to overcome the resistance, not control it.

 

Put another way, I believed that machines were "too stable." At the time I loved Paul Chek's quote: "Machines are like sleeping pills for the nervous system."

 

But here's what I now consider to be an embarrassing disconnect on my part: At the same time I was dissing machines, I'd also scoff at "stabilization" exercises (drills performed on the BOSU or on one leg for example) as inferior because the instability involved doesn't allow you to generate as much force as you could if you were stable. Using this logic, machines would be a GREAT choice, right?

 

Looking back, I now realize I had an ideology to defend: I disliked machines because I saw that people often used machines as an "easy way out" when they should be taking the time to learn how to use free weights.

 

In other words, I placed a high value on developing free-weight skills and looked down on anyone who didn't feel.

 

References: https://www.t-nation.com/training/tip-free-weights-machines-and-tribal-thinking

 

 

 

Charles Staley is an accomplished strength coach who specializes in helping older athletes reclaim their physicality and vitality. At age 56, Charles is leaner than ever, injury free, and in his lifetime best shape. His PRs include a 400-pound squat, 510-pound deadlift, and a 17 chin-up max. 

Follow Charles Staley on Facebook

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