Less Drag, More Cuts
Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson
Cable and machine exercises are great, and often there is no substitute-as with leg extensions-but some techniques are best suited to free weights.
In the e-book The Ultimate Fat-to-Muscle Workout we explain how using negative-accentuated sets can set the stage for more fat burning. By raising the weight in 1.5 seconds and lowering in six, you emphasize the negative stroke and cause more muscle damage. During the postworkout repair process, your metabolism is higher, and bodyfat is the preferred fuel for muscle-tear repair. Using cables and machines, however, can make those negative-accentuated sets less effective.
Any machine with a weight stack has drag due to friction-no matter how much it's greased. On cable curls, for example, as you curl up, the stack is dragging on the guide rods, which makes the positive stroke harder. Then on the negative, or lowering, the drag actually makes the weight lighter-not what you want if you're looking for more fat-to-muscle microtrauma.
When you do negative-accentuated sets on cable curls, positive failure occurs early due to weight-stack drag. That means you get fewer negative reps. Also, each slow negative is lighter than it should be because of the drag. Your biceps lose out on two fronts.
We love machines, but if you want to produce more fat-burning microtrauma, do your negative-accentuated sets with free weights.