This is a collaboration article with the fitness professional,  John Hall of John Hall Studios.

If you were to walk into any fitness facility, most likely you will see a combination of machines and free weights. You will notice that some people only use machines and some people just use free weights. I have personally noticed that a lot of people rely heavily on machines when working out because that is what they see on social media. It is essential to be able to do exercises in less stable situations because it will be more helpful in everyday life.

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My coach, John, recommends against using certain types of machines, for example, the leg press machine. The reason given is that the strength gains will not transfer to a less stable environment (they are less “functional”), where some degree of balance is required. Specific machines will make you bigger and stronger, but they don’t train the normal human movement patterns that are necessary to move.

External Force Vs. Internal Force


Most machines are somewhat self-explanatory. This makes them easy to use on their own or with other machines to create your own circuit. Machines are also suitable for beginners who may have no clue what they are doing and do not have the assistance of an exceptional fitness professional to guide them.The question is, are they the most efficient?

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External Force – It is best described as a stable object that you push your body against to give your body power. When you use you use your external force, you are turning off your internal force.

As stated above, machines are great for training size and strength, but they neglect key core & stabilization muscles. The trunk and the core are so very important.

When working out and using a bench (for example, bench pressing), using the actual bench itself is not always ideal. Try using a stability ball instead. Whether you are lying down or standing up, the bench does the work for you. This can allow you to cheat, have bad posture, or lousy form – which can lead to injuries.

Less Stable Surfaces, Free weights, & Bodyweight

One of the advantages of this type of training is that you can use your full range of motion. Basically, you have complete freedom to move around rather than being locked into a specific range of motion or pattern. Another advantage is that when using free weights or bodyweight, you can workout anywhere, whether it be at the gym or home.

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Internal Force – Exercises involving internal force strengthen your core and trunk. The core is more than just abs. It is everything that is not the head, arms, and legs. It is your entire middle. Using your internal force helps you to become more of a balanced and a strong person because you are no longer relying on external force. Basically, you can become your own bench instead of relying on one. This will help you become a better runner, jumper, and you are less likely to get injured.

I’ll just do Cardio Before

Never do cardio right before weight lifting. If you’re going to do cardio, always do it at the end. If you do it first, you are depleting the glucose in your body. Doing it at the end helps lose more body fat.

Bodyweight Training

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Bodyweight is the foundation of strength training. If you don’t know how to use your body naturally, why would you pick up a weight? A lot of stabilizer muscles, that many people ignore, need to be developed as well. Body weight can be just as hard as weights depending on what you do. One should never focus on modality because it makes you one dimensional.

Common Workout Mistakes

  • I’m only working on muscles that I like
  • I only need to work on my arms, not legs
  • I only need to work on my chest, not back
  • I’ll just do crunches to make my stomach flat
  • I don’t need to worry about obliques

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Crunches do not make your stomach flat. The six pack is the rectus abdominis muscle. Also, most people neglect training their obliques in which one should be focused on them. They are part of your core and all tied together.

Benefits of seeing a Fitness Professional

  • Fitness professionals create assessments based on your body; this prevents injuries.
  • They can assist you in making sure that you have the correct form.
  • They take a genuine interest in goals.
  • There may be times when you want to quit, but a professional will push you to do more.
  • A true professional will provide education in movement and anatomy.
  • You will learn how to use your body to achieve the fitness level that you desire to have.
  • A professional will teach you how to hold yourself accountable

Based on the information provided, which type of workout would you say is best for you?

To learn more about John Hall, his specialized fitness programs, and health-related information, check out