The third "control" group didn't exercise at all.
Researchers found that the group that used the free-form equipment increased strength by 115 percent and balance improved by 245 percent. That was significantly better than the fixed-form training equipment group that saw strength increase by 57 percent and balance improvement of 49 percent.
Additionally, the free-form group reported lower overall pain levels than those who used fixed equipment.
As expected, the control group saw no change.
So what is the message? Get off the machines and vary your workouts.
With free weights, any time you change the direction of an exercise, even by 15 degrees, it becomes a whole new exercise.
Arm exercises are some of the best ways to ease into free weight training.
Start with a few sets of bicep curls. Hold free weights with the palms facing you; then perform a set with your thumbs up as if you were holding a cup; then perform a set with the palms facing down. Challenge the body by holding the weights out farther from the body for some sets and closer to the body for others.
Experiment with different grips and angles on other exercises as well.
If you are uncertain how to perform bigger, more core-demanding exercises such as squats and lunges, it's always good to get a personal trainer to show you proper form.
With free weights, changing the degree of an exercise changes the exercise, leading to more variety, better definition and a fitter you.
Lya Wodraska is a certified CHEK Practitioner and Holistic Lifestyle Coach. Email her at Lwodraska@sltrib.com.