“You Need to Build That Base”: Amidst Evolving Fitness Equipment, ‘The Pro Creator’ Deciphers Importance of Free Weight Training

Published 02/11/2024, 1:00 PM EST

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Hany Rambod who has contributed to a total of 24 Olympia titles across various categories, often shares his wisdom on The Truth Podcast. In the latest episode, the man who led Jay Cutler, Phil Heath, Chirs Bumstead, and others to the pinnacle of bodybuilding success explained why bodybuilding and fitness enthusiasts shouldn’t replace free weight fundamentals.

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With the advent and popularity of fitness equipment, The Pro Creator explained the importance of free-weight compound movements. While many are replacing these with exercise machines, it might not be wise to do so. The 47-year-old said that despite their advantages, there is one aspect where exercise machines fall short.

The disadvantage of fitness equipment

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The co-host said that many youngsters in the gym are moving away from free weights. Whether it’s general fitness or bodybuilding, the “younger generation… love machines,” said the co-host. However, Rambod said using free weights is the basics, and one shouldn’t deviate from them entirely.

Compound exercises with free weights trigger “ancillary” muscles. However, exercise machines don’t trigger these muscles. Rambod said mastering free weights is especially important for younger lifters “because you need to build that base.”

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While fitness equipment is designed to minimize injuries, not developing stabilizer muscles and tendon strength would also result in injuries. Derek Lunsford’s coach said that free-weight movements like squats are “have-to” exercises. While you can build quads on the Smith machine “eventually,” it’s essential to understand the correct “form” through free-weight squats.

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However, using fitness equipment does play an important role in bodybuilding. Besides targeting and isolating muscle groups, they can help avoid rehab injuries.

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How exercise machines help bodybuilders

While free weights are crucial to understanding exercise form, exercise machines can help target specific muscles. Fitness equipment manufacturers spend a lot on the R&D of their machines. These machines are specially built to help bodybuilders target stubborn muscle groups,

For example, if a bodybuilder has trouble growing his upper chest muscles, free-weight movements like the bench press are not the solution. That’s when machines help because they effectively can isolate the upper pectoral muscles without working the rest of the chest. Rambod himself makes his athletes train with a combination of free weights and machines to maximize their physiques.

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Thanks to their ability to isolate the muscle better, fitness equipment also helps bodybuilders get back in shape after injuries. When Chris Bumstead was recovering from his quad injury, he started exercising with machines first. Hence, while fitness equipment has its uses, the 24-time Olympia-winning coach thinks you should also master the free weight movements for the best results.

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Written by:

Sagnik Bagchi

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Sagnik Bagchi is a senior bodybuilding writer at EssentiallySports. A passionate fitness enthusiast himself, Sagnik uses his knowledge of bodybuilding to focus on the coverage of major events like the Mr. Olympia and Arnold Classic.
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Edited by:

Gokul Pillai

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