5 Reasons Cable Machines Are Better Than Free Weights

If you are familiar with some simple laws of leverage and how range of motion effects bio-mechanics then you will know the concept behind this article. If you do a classic Barbell bicep curl with free weight, you will notice that when the range of motion hits that midway point (forearm x Upper arm angle at 90 degrees) it is by far the hardest part of the movement. This is due to the leverage angle - the resistance perpendicular to the ground (gravity), and the distance it is away from the pivot point (elbow joint) - being at its most extreme. Basically, the most amount of resistance your bicep can possibly feel from that weight is being felt at 90 degrees (horizontal to floor). It is a combo of the laws of leverage and our biomechanics. Read below 5 ways how Cable Machines differ from free weights and why they could be better:

1. Constant Resistance

Imagine someone pulling against your muscle with consistant force no matter what the angle, this is the mechanism of a cable pulley machine. This provides equal amounts of tension on your muscles during the entire range, as opposed to free weight resistance changing constantly throughout the exercise. Increasing muscular tension is a key factor in continued muscle growth.

2. Increased Range

Weight is no longer pushing down on your muscles in one direction, but pulling in whatever direction the cable is in. This allows the window of tension for an exercise to increase, supplying more tension to the muscle over a larger range, stimulating more of the target muscle. This potentially creates more micro-tears along a longer length of the muscle, providing more potential for growth.

3. Little Room For Error

To optimally contract the target muscles during a movement is challenging at the best of times. You have to balance the weight, have perfect form, maybe have a spotter there for safety, not to mention use a lot of other muscles just to steady yourself, which tires you out. With cable machines, the weight stack only moves up and down, it's secure and quite safe, you only need to balance yourself, instead of the weights too. This makes it a more efficient tool to isolate and target the correct muscles. Less room for error means more room for intense stimulus. More time spent targeting muscles and less time balancing and risking injury can only mean a more effective workout.

4. Custom Angles

Cables have fluid changeable angles, all providing equal resistance in any direction. This means that if an injury or just an individual preference needs to be adhered to, exercises can be performed in a safe and productive way. Fixed motion machines rely on a one size fits all concept, but cables can be manipulated to travel in almost any direction. This means you can use more angles that can induce more changes in your body. The more angles you can stimulate muscle from the more potential you give your muscles to adapt and grow.

5. Accessible Set Approaches

Depending on what level you are, you may want to incorporate different set approaches like drop sets, giant sets, pyramids, rest-pause, pre-exhausts etc. All these variations in exercise approaches have one aim, to increase tension on the muscle. Most do this by drastically reducing the rest periods in-between sets. With free weights it's harder to do this without monopolising your entire gym, chucking weights around, pre-setting everything up and making a huge mess. A cable pulley machine provides everything in one place, multiple exercise choice, a quickly adjustable pin-loaded weight stack and very little occupied space. You can adjust rest periods as much as you want, plus have more potential for adaptions!

There will always be a place for free weights in fitness, but cable machines can really help provide a different stimulus to your muscles!

Happy Lifting!

Are there any more benefits cables can provide? COMMENT BELOW

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