Schilling, B. K., Frya, A. C., Ferkin, M. H., & Leonard, S. T. (2001). Hormonal responses to free-weight and machine exercise. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 33(5), Supplement abstract 1527.

This study evaluated hormonal responses to multi-joint free-weight exercise and single-joint machine exercises. Trained males (N = 6) performed 3 x 10 repetitions at 70% 1-RM with a one-minute rest period between sets. The free-weight exercise was a squat and the machine exercises involved three joints (leg curl, leg extension, and back extension).

Both training modalities showed similar hormonal responses. Less work was required in the free-weight exercise than on machines to stimulate equivalent hormonal responses. Lactate values were higher in free-weight exercises indicating that different metabolic demands existed between the modalities.

Implication. Free-weight exercises yield greater benefits than do machine exercises.

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