It is important to have a variety in your workout routines. By changing things up regularly you will keep your body guessing and by keeping your body guessing you will continue to progress and make changes. It is common for people to hit what we call a "plateau" when the body gets used to doing the same things. When you hit a plateau your body is hungry for change. To break through a plateau you must change up your workout routine and shock your system.
A great way to change up your workouts is to always incorporate free weights as well as machines. Below are some advantages to both free weights and machines:
Advantages of Free Weights
Free weights help your balance and coordination, they force you to work your stabilizer muscles as well as the major muscle groups
Because you are incorporating more muscles you burn more calories with free weights than with machines
Free weights allow you to move through a greater range of motion which will help increase your flexibility
Free weights will simulate movements outside of the gym making you stronger for everyday life movement
By using free weights you increase your brain power, your brain has to focus on where your body is in space, making free weights great for athletes
Advantages of Machines
Machines have a less risk of injury, as the machine guides you through the motion unlike free weights where you have to control the motion and must have proper technique to avoid injury
Machines usually are better for beginners to use
Machines can help you to isolate muscle groups
Machines are easy to adjust the weights
Machines are useful when an injury is involved
Overall free weights are the better choice but it is good to always change things up and incorporate machines into your routine. If you feel you are hitting a plateau working with a personal trainer is a great way to learn new exercises and work on your technique and form. Whether you are using machines or free weights you must challenge yourself. If you don't push your body past its comfort zone you will not create change in your body. You MUST push yourself to get results!