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It’s no secret that weight training builds muscle, but is there a method of weight training that is truly more effective? Many programs are designed to use machines, free weights and compound movements. An example of a compound movement is a squat because it encompasses multiple joints and acts as a power movement. Which form of training is the most effective?

In short, all three together. To elaborate, there is a definitive advantage to performing compound movements and free weight movements over machine-based exercises; however, that does not mean that machines do not have their place as well. Research has shown that compound movements burn the most calories per rep, followed next by free weight movements, with machines burning the least per rep. The primary explanation is the number of muscles used per movement. With compound movements engaging multiple joints and often requiring a great deal of core stability, it is clear why they would burn the most calories per repetition.

Following that trend, free weight movements incorporate more stabilization than their machine counterparts, thus burning more calories per rep. Since many machines are seated, they essentially remove core stability from the equation and often isolate single muscle groups. By isolating single muscle groups, they provide a unique opportunity for building lagging body parts, or working areas that may need more help, but aren’t necessarily what you want to build a program around. If you are capable of doing compound or free weight movements, you will certainly get more of a burn from doing them. If you’re not sure what to do, talk to one of our helpful trainers about designing a program for you.

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