Please allow me to put this particular discussion to bed here and now, because the truth is that both free weights and machines have their advantages and disadvantages, pros and cons. In fact, the strengths of one can often be said to be the weaknesses of the other—and vice versa. However, without delving too far into the science, bio mechanics, EMG studies, and physiology, I can assure you that it is a proper balance of free weights (i.e., movements that require barbells and/or dumbbells) and machines (i.e., plateloaded, selectorized, and cable exercises) that will pave the most rapid and efficient path to building the Herculean physique you are after—not just one or the other alone.
With that in mind, this article is going to focus on some of my favorite machine based exercises and why I feel that they’re so valuable in one’s pursuit of building more muscle. I will not be naming any specific machines by brand but rather simply discussing various types of machines in general—most of which are common to any decently equipped commercial gym.
CABLE OR LEVER PREACHER CURL
Personally I have never gotten much out of the standard, angled preacher curl using a barbell, as it is harsh on my elbows at the point of stretch and does not allow for an optimal contraction. However, with the machine version it is easier to control the eccentric contraction so that you can safely achieve a good stretch. Additionally, because there is still resistance pulling downward at the top, one is able to get a much harder, and thus productive, squeeze.
VALUABLE VARIATION(S) Alter your grip from narrow to wide to help better target the inner or outer biceps heads. In addition, try this exercise unilaterally for maximum concentration and neural drive.
Click "NEXT PAGE" to continue >>