Free weights give you a complete training program, because they activate several of the smaller stabilizer muscles. They also allow for unilateral development of the body (increasing strength on both sides of the body). However, our musculoskeletal system is complex. It consists of levers dictated by genetic factors which contribute to our ability to leverage free weights effectively. In other words, these factors determine how much load our muscles can take during a given exercise. The length of our bones, angle of our joints, location of the muscle insertion, muscle fiber type (quick twitch vs. slow twitch), and length of our muscle bellies all limit the load our muscles can achieve. This is particularly true of free weight exercises that are hindered by the point where you move a weight and lose the resistance. For example, the preacher curl typically begins at 35 to 40 degrees, begins to lose effectiveness at 135 degrees, and completely loses resistance at approximately 180 to 200 degrees. This gives 110 degrees of useful range and 50 degrees of unwanted rest from the resistance. If we are able to avoid the loss of resistance, we can make exercises far more effective.
Machines are one way to overcome the loss of resistance. They work your target muscles through a good range of motion, while supporting your body during the exercise. However, since the body is in a fixed position, the smaller stabilizing muscles are less active. In addition, machines often sacrifice the benefit of precision that dumbbells allow.
Cables are another efficient way to create a range of motion that progressively loads the resistance and avoids the loss of resistance. Essentially cables place your muscles in the worst leverage disadvantage possible which increases the resistance and benefits of the exercise and incorporates stabilizing muscles. You can pull a cable from any direction needed, adjust the position of your body as needed, and create a range of resisted motion for the exercise.
The Kinesis machine is a type of cable exercise equipment that uses full gravity and a rotating pulley system to allow for a 360 degree range of motion activating all the body’s kinetic chains. Unlike traditional cable machines, there is no interference to the forearms or range of motion.
Since there are benefits to each type of exercise (free weights, machines, and cables), you can utilize all three to create a complete program to train the shoulders.
Overhead Kinesis Shoulder Press: 20 reps at a lighter resistance followed by 3 sets of 10 reps at a heavy resistance. Repeat above sequence 3 times with 45 seconds rest between each round.
Reverse Kinesis Flyes (for the rear deltoid): Perform high, mid, and low sequence for 3 sets
Reverse Kinesis Flyes High: 20 reps
Reverse Kinesis Flyes Midline: 20 reps
Reverse Kinesis Flyes Low: 20 reps
Seated Precor Cable Overhead Press 5 sets X 10 reps with 30 seconds rest:
Seated Machine Overhead Press (Incline) 5 sets X 10 reps with 30 seconds rest:
Seated Dumbbell Overhead Press: 4 sets X 12 reps with 30 seconds rest
Seated Dumbbell Lateral Raises 7 sets X 10 reps with 30 seconds rest:
C. Barrett. Free Weights vs. Cable Machines
e.medicinehealth. Strength Training. August 2015.
J. McLelland. Cable Machine Benefits. April 2014
Mercola. The Pros and Cons of Free Weights versus Resistance Machines. Peak Fitness. December 12, 2014
N. Tumminello. 5 Machines that are Better Muscle Builders than Free Weights. Muscle and Performance. May 7, 2012.
Bodybuilding.com. Are Free Weights or Machines Better for Results?