Cables Vs Free Weights – Which One Is Better
You’ve probably seen this debate going on on youtube or facebook in different groups. Some people swear in the name of cables and some in free weights.
But to be honest the whole argument is not that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things. Since usually when this is up to debate people are discussing about assistance exercises which are secondary movement and honestly if you do perfrom them with cables or free weights it doesn’t really matter in the big picture.
But there are still some pros and cons to both of them and the whole cables vs free weights debate is not something made up from the wind.
Let me give you my thought on the issue and I hope you get some help out from this article!
Cables Vs Free Weights – Foundation Is Build Upon Free Weights
If you have read my articles before you know that I’m huge advocate of training with free weights and using mainly heavy basic compound exercises as a foundation for your muscle building / strength training routines.
All of my workouts I’ll structure around squats, deadlifts, bench pressess, overhead press, chin-ups & rows and perfrom these first since these movements are the best for sparking muscle growth and gaining strength. But after I’ve done these I usually throw in some assistance exercises which to be honest I usually prefer to do them with cables.
So coming from a guy that spends basically all of his time on the big compound lifts with free weights it might surprise you a bit that for assistance exercises I tend to favour a bit more cables.
The Positives Of Cables
And the reason for doing my assistance exercises with cables is that they offer even resistance for the whole range of motion of the movement.
With free weights if you’re doing any movement that is done with a circular motion you will compromise the resistance in different parts of the lift.
For example if you’re doing side lateral raises with dumbbells the mid-upper part of the lift is the only part that gets 100% resistance.
With cables you will have the same resistance for the whole range of motion.
And this maximizes your use of muscles way better in my opinion. Also when the tension is same for the whole range of motion of the movement, the exercise will be easier for your joints. This is because you have total control of the weight and you have to use the same level of strength for the whole movement.
Also different special techniques such as drop sets are easier to do with cables because you can quickly adjust the weights and keep pumping away.
Although I have to note again that these are quite minimal things in the big picture and which ever you choose doesn’t make a big difference.
The Positives Of Free Weights
The positives of free weights include that they take way less space compared to the cables since with cables you have to get these big bulky machines. Obviously if you train at a commercial gym this is not an issue but for folks that are training from home it can be a thing to consider.
Ontop of that free weights always require more stabilizers to be used than cables, but if you’re doing your main work with heavy compound exercises with barbells and dumbbells you don’t need to worry too much about training your stabilizers with assistance exercises.
Also there might be a positive side leaning towards free weights when you think about different grips available for different exercises.
Since grabbing dumbbells you can turn your wrist into any position you prefer which might be difficult to accomplish with cables if there is not enough different handles to attach to the cable.
Conclusion On Cables Vs Free Weights – Both Have Their Place
All-in-all this debate of cables vs free weights on assistance exercises is really pointless and you should just do the secondary exercises how you personally enjoy them the most.
If you’re too caught up with the mantra of only training with free weights try substituting your assistances with cables and see how you like them since you’ll not be doing yourself a disservice by using them.
In the big picture this is not really a thing to pay much attention on as long as you’re doing your primary work with free weights and aiming for progressive overload.
That is all there is to it folks. Try using cables if you’re not doing it at the moment or vice versa!
I’d like to know which one you prefer to do and why. Drop me a line down below and I’ll get back at you 🙂