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5 Crazy Benefits Of Running Guaranteed To Get You Going

​5 Crazy Benefits Of Running

 Guaranteed To Get You Going

​I picked up another block of wood and prepared to take the long haul to the burn pile. My cousin, Cliff (name changed), chuckled.

"And you won't believe what I've started doing since Laura (name also changed) and I broke up," he said.

"Oh yeah?"

​He waited for me to collect the last piece of wood I could possibly carry before walking to our smoldering fire.

"I've started running. Not very far, but after the breakup, I needed a way to get rid of some energy. A few weeks ago I Forrest Gump-ed it, haven't looked back."

​He was right.

I didn't believe it.

My cousin Cliff had pretty much sworn off all exercise since the day he finished high school wrestling, which he only did for one season. And when my exercise routine had come up in the past, he consistently reminded me that he would never run unless someone was chasing him.

In the midst of his heartbreak, Cliff had discovered some powerful benefits of going for a jog. His realization inspired me to create this post, so here are some crazy, awesome, ridiculous benefits of running that are guaranteed to get you off the couch and onto the track.

​Hope you, dear awesome reader, enjoy.

​Kiss Your Stress Goodbye

​As my cousin Cliff so nicely pointed out for us, running works as an incredible stress reliever.

And honestly, who isn't stressed in today's world?

If you've got relationship problems of any color, work related hassles, family turbulence, or just need to get some time ​away​, running may serve as the perfect escape for you.

In fact, many of my runs nowadays aren't for exercise purposes at all; I just love to turn on some tunes, ignore all my notifications, and let my imagination run loose!

​For ​those of us who suffer with science, it should be enough to say that running relieves stress because it gets your mind off of things.​​​

For those of us who want to unleash the inner nerd, here's how it works:

​When you engage in moderate to high levels of physical activity, the brain gets a nice dose of neurotransmitters called endorphins.

Endorphins are awesome.

If you've ever felt a nice after finishing a complex task, winning a game, watching your favorite team put the smack on the other side, or enjoyed some nice time with the Significant O, endorphins are probably responsible for these feelings.

Endorphins are commonly considered a "good-mood" signal to the brain and are usually released after a bout of stress.

A Venezuelan study on mice found that mice who were allowed to run before a stressful tasks (being dunked in water) experienced significantly less stress than mice who were not allowed to run due to some goings-on in the ventral hippocampus. (source)

​Whether you simply want to get your mind off your hectic life, want to release some endorphins, or want to hack your hippocampus, running will probably help you do it.

Running is an excellent stress-reliever.

​Bring On The Donuts

​I will be the first to tell you that ​I mostly work out so I can eat whatever I want later on in the day.

Sure, exercise is great for mental health, helps me get laser-focused, and who ​doesn't​ want that hot bod (more on all this later), but full disclosure: I love to eat junk food.

​Bring on them donuts, baby.

Running is a calorie burning machine.

If you'd like to check how many calories you can burn during a run, here is a link to a neat little running calculator. I input my results and for a three mile run, I burned 476 calories. Calculated in full, that's about 954 calories per hour.

​Am I the only one who said ​​"​​​​​​​Wow"​​​​ when I saw that?​​​

​Running burns calories for a few reasons. First, it increases your oxygen absorption. According to David Swain, a professor at Old Dominion University and expert on exercise science (full credentials on the ODU website), continuous activities burn about five calories per liter of oxygen consumed.

​If you've ever had to make a quick dash for your car after leaving a sports game (as I did last night), then you know that running will suck down some wind.

Second, running is quite a complex movement and significantly more complex than walking.

When we walk, our center of gravity is high and generally held pretty evenly over our legs.

Running is a different story. When we run, we are actually jumping from one foot to the other foot. Not only does this cause us to move ​forward​, but it also causes us to move ​upward​. This is one of the reasons why running and walking ​do not​​​​​​ consume the same amount of calories per mile: running involves an additional upward movement. (source).

I do think it is beneficial here to ​contrast between Gross Calorie Burn (GCB) and Net Calorie Burn (NCB).

Gross Calorie Burn is how many calories you've burned total, no matter what you're doing. If you weigh 150 pounds and go running for half an hour, you may burn about 350 calories. ​Here's the calculator I use if you want to input your own weight, time, and distance ran.

In the example situation above, your GCB is 350 calories.

​Warning: This is about to get nerdy​. If you aren't interested in the math, just scroll down to the next section titled "End Nerd Section"

​Knowing how many calories you burned in a specific activity is great, but the human body burns calories no matter what we're doing. If you're just sitting there eating potato chips and watching the Kardashians, you're burning calories.

This is where Net Calorie Burn comes in handy.

NCB shows us how many calories we burned running, walking, or doing whatever activity we choose. It factors out how many calories you would have burned just by living and gives you ​only​ the calories you burned doing that specific activity.​​​

To determine NCB, we take GCB and subtract how many calories we would have burned in the same time period by doing nothing.

To know how many calories we would have burned by doing nothing, we need to know your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). The BMR calculates exactly what you burn in a day by laying on the couch binging on Netflix.

There is a formula for calculating BMR that's a bit complex, so here's a calculator to your numbers in. Get your BMR, divide it by how many minutes are in a day (1440) and multiply by how many minutes you did your activity for.

So for example, let's say I, a 210 pound 6'2" 20ish year old male went for a run for 30 minutes. I ran three miles and burned about 475 calories.

475 is my Gross Calories Burned, or GCB. It is my total calories burned over the course of my run.

But how many calories did I burn ​because​ of my run?

We take GCB and subtract BMR for 30 minutes. My BMR burns approximately 2200 calories​​​ per day. Divide 2200 by 1440 (minutes per day) and you get 1.528. That's how many calories I burn per minute just by living.

Multiply 1.528 by minutes ran (30) and you end up with 45.84. That is how many calories I burn in 30 minutes by sitting.

So to get my Net Calories Burned by my 30 minute run, we take GCB of 475, subtract my BMR for 30 minutes of 45.84, and we see that running burned about 429 calories.

Pretty sweet, huh?

​End Nerd Section

​​​As we can see here, running burns an astronomical amount of calories. Even if you are relatively light weight, run a short distance, and run slowly, running will burn a significant amount of calories for you.

​So bring on the donuts. I'm going for a run today.

​​​​Mental And Emotional Power

​Most people who have been for a quick job can attest to the fact that running can clear the mind like few other tasks are capable of doing.

Running is a great time to turn on some music, listen to an audiobook, think about your dreams (my preferred method), or simply clear your mind.

Running has the incredible power to increase your mental clarity. This is partially due to the feel-good chemicals it releases in your brain such pheromones mentioned earlier, but oddly enough, running allows your mind to rest.

Many of the tasks we do throughout the day are mentally ​active​. When we write, answer emails, check our phones, speak to others, or almost any other task we do during our day, we are forcing our brains to provide feedback and new instructions on a regular basis.

Research shows that this activity of decision making will literally exhaust our brains throughout the day. (source).​​​ This is why after a long day, it feels good to relax. It is our brain's way of telling us that it's beat!

While mentally active tasks wear on the brain, mentally ​passive​ tasks do not.

Activities that require little feedback or new instructions fall into this mentally passive category.

Activities like ​walking your dog, going for a jog, watching Netflix, or playing a card game all fall into the mentally passive category because these tasks usually require relatively few decisions.

These passive tasks allow your brain to take a break from reality, recuperate, and go back to decision making like a champ.

These tasks are essentially like little naps for our brain and after having spent some time in a passive activity, it is easy to tell a difference in your mental strength levels.

​Running serves as a powerful mentally passive activity because it is relatively low in decision making ​​​and​ it releases those good feels, meaning that you get a double dose of mental strength.

​Not only does running help clear the mind, research indicates that it also helps to preserve it.

According to the science, running improves memory ​(source), improves spatial awareness, cognitive ability, and overall mental health (source), and prevented the brains from shrinking in test subjects over 70 (source).

Exercise was shown to be more helpful than mentally active activities such as brain games at preserving mental health, particularly in the prevention of brain shrinkage and other signs of aging in the brain. (source).

​So if you're feeling stressed or like your thoughts just aren't working at max capacity, try going for a quick tour de park or track. You will notice your mind drifting to other things and your brain will start to make you feel extra good when it's over.

You'll be walking around with extra brain power.​​​​​​​​​​​​

​To make things even better, running shows signs of being able to help with depression. In a study comparing subjects to 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity on a treadmill (high intensity walking or a regular jog) to subjects who sat in quiet reflection for 30 minutes, both test groups reported feeling increased senses of well-being and an improved mood.

The exercise group, however, reported feeling better than those who sat in silence. (source).

​Perhaps this is due to the fact that running gets our minds off the weighty tasks of the day, that it releases feel-good signals to our brains, or some ​other variable, but the science is clear: running serves as a powerful aid to emotional distress.

​Running ​can improve our mental and emotional suffering.

​​One Hot Bod Inside And Out

Remember that time you met that person who wanted to be extremely overweight, have high cholesterol, and be a proud owner of a heart that pumped like it was trying to go out of business early?

Me neither.

No one has met that person.

That person doesn't exist.​

​Running is absolutely one of the best exercises you can do for your physical health. ​For those looking to ​not​ be that person above with the big gut and bigger heart problems, you may want to consider heading to the track for a bit.​​​

Here are just a few of the physical benefits of running, in no particular order.

​Extends Your Life​: ​A recent study showed an association between running and living longer. In fact, this study said that for every hour of running, you may be extending your life ​up to 7 hours​. (source).

​​​Granted, running certainly won't make you immortal. The results of the study showed that the extended life from running usually plateaus out at about 3 years. Even so, a 600% return on your investment of time is nothing to be scoffed at.

3 years is a lot of time.

​Better Bod​: As mentioned above, running burns calories. A lot of calories. When paired with a weights routine, running serves as an excellent way to really tone up and bring out those beautiful (hidden) abdominals.

Not only does running burn calories, however, but it also strengthens your muscles. For anyone looking to build up that booty, there aren't many better workouts you can do than one that is exclusively lower body.

​Joint Strength​: Believe it or not, evidence shows that running isn't bad for your joints.

It's good for them.

​A study involving 2637 people showed a correlation between running and low joint or bone pain. (source).​​​ While running may not have been the cause, there is no denying the correlation.

This is possibly due to stronger leg muscles causing less stress to be placed on joints like the knee, leading to a less damaged joint over time.

​Inner Health​: This one is a biggy, as running does a ​lot​ of stuff to your innards.​​​​​​​​​

Obviously, running improves your heart. That's pretty common knowledge. Less common knowledge is that is produces more of the good cholesterol (source) and lowers your blood sugar. (source).

Running also increases our heart's ability to process oxygen by boosting what is called our VO2 Max. A person's VO2 Max is the measurement of the maximum amount of oxygen a person can process during intense exercise.

​​How much oxygen your body can process is roughly the gauge of your overall fitness level. To make things even better, the more oxygen your heart can process, the less heavily you'll be breathing during exercises.

​​Deploy Your Discipline Superpowers

​Over the course of my life, I have come to believe that humans really ​do ​ have superpowers.

We have the ability to continue on in the face of opposition, to endure when times get difficult, and to create incredible things through spending our time and passion.

​You and I can observe the world around us, see problems, and then create solutions.​​​

What superpower is greater than the ability to have a powerful, lasting impact on the world and lives around you?

You have superpowers. It is only a ​matter of whether or not you unlock them.

Even though all humans are capable of being who they want to be, doing what they want to do, and living how they want to live, very few people would say that they are happy with their standard of life right now.

Many people find themselves in situations that they are not proud of, living lives that are not in line with their dreams. The reasons for this type of unsatisfied living are deep and wide, but the solution is always the same:

Change it.

If you find yourself living a life that isn't in line with who you want to be and what you want to do, you have the ability to change it.

Start right now.

Change your circumstances.

​It will not be easy​, it will not be fun, but it ​will ​be worth it!​​​

And the first step in changing your circumstances is to develop the mindset of a person who can endure things that are neither easy or fun.

You must develop discipline.

Running is an excellent way to strengthen your "won't stop, won't quit, won't give in until I reach my goal" muscles. There is simply something very powerful about taking one more step through the (temporary) pain to reach a (bigger, long-lasting) goal.

Running builds discipline from the scheduling your run, to starting​, all the way through to the very end.

And discipline is your superpower.​​​

I believe that there are two ways to increase your discipline.

​1)​Your Confidence​​​​​​​

​Running has made me a better person because I can constantly set goals, work hard to achieve them, and feel the surge of adrenaline and confidence once my accomplishment has been realized.

No other feeling in the world quite compares to a silent confidence in your own skills and abilities​​​ because there is something inherently powerful in knowing that you are capable of accomplishing what you set your mind to.

Sometimes, each step can be agony during a run. But pushing through that pain will bring you to a place that you've never been before, a place that exists within the quiet domains of your mind.

Your most important asset in life is you and when you accomplish your goals, push past your suffering, you begin to realize something:

​When you want to be, you are powerful​.

It's not mumbo jumbo. It's not self-help hype.

You have the ability to influence the world around you no matter your circumstances. Running simply helps you to see that you are capable of doing what you believe it.

It is a bridge, a segue. It only leads to bigger and better things.

​2) Getting Tougher

There's a lot to be valued in mental work capacity, no doubt.

But at some point you've just gotta get started and do it.

At some point you've just gotta dig down, get into the nitty gritty, and stop allowing your naysayers to be your dreamkillers.

At some point you've just gotta tough it out.

​​​​​​​​​I've done exercises of all color: body weight, TRX training, various types of yoga, and competition weightlifting.

But there is something particularly mentally tough about going one more mile when your legs are exhausted.

Running not only develops your confidence in yourself, but it literally makes you tougher. Mental toughness and physical toughness are a direct product of your putting one foot in front of another and this toughness is delicious food for your developing discipline.

Discipline is your superpower. Discipline is how you accomplish your dreams.

With it, you can change the world. Just remember to start on the track.

​Conclusion

​I will have you know that while writing this post, I was inspired three different times to go for a jog.

​Tell us in the comments below: What's your favorite benefit of going for a quick jog?

​And if you're looking to maximize you're time spent running, here are a few reasons you should add a sprint to the end of your jog.

​Thanks for reading.

Stay awesome. Have a great day.

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Copyright Information: Copyright Elite Happiness. This content may be freely reproduced in full or in part in digital form with full attribution to the author and a link to www.elitehappiness.com. Please contact us for permission to reproduce this content in other media formats.

4 Reasons Why Everyone Should Sprint After Their Run

​4 Reasons Why Everyone
Should Sprint After Their Run

​My 12 year old self would probably have a conniption if I told him that his future self thought running was awesome. He would probably rather me like onions or something.

​Seriously though, running is pretty grand. One study shows that for every hour you run, your life span is increased by 7 hours, ​up to three years​​​​​​​. (source).

Looks like I'm going to the park today.

But even though running is awesome, this site is all about how to make stuff even more awesome. A person should never settle for simply being happy; they should set their eyes on being maximally happy.

​​​So how do we maximize the benefits and boosts from running?

In The 4-Hour Body​, author Tim Ferriss interviews Greg Glassman, the founder of Crossfit about how Glassman takes couch potatoes and turns them into ultra-marathon runners.

​I do say "ultra-marathoners" in the literal sense, as the type of training that Glassman performs is for people willing to run over 100 miles at a time.

And yet of the myriad of ways that a person can be trained to run a marathon (and contrary to popular opinions on how to train for marathons), Glassman does not tell his students to run a long ways a lot.

He tells them to do sprints.

And if sprints work for the greatest runners on the face of the earth, they should definitely be utilized to maximize both our fitness and our enjoyment while running.

Here are some reasons you should add a sprint to the end of your run.

​The Frustrating Trick To Get​ Half An Hour Of Exercise In 2 Minutes

​As life has continually grown more stressful, running has repeatedly been an area of release for me. It is a precious time when I am able to zone out for a little bit and running has been absolutely instrumental in problem solving for me. When I am continually putting one foot in front of the other, there is something serene and unique that happens in the mind; clarity strikes.

​I enjoy running so much that if research said runners were more likely to grow an extra foot, I'd probably keep doing it.

Thankfully, the research suggests quite the opposite.

But we're only maximizing happiness if we ask the question of what makes our time, including our exercises, most efficient while staying most enjoyable.

Personally, I'm a believer that jogging isn't quite as useful as sprinting, even when training for extremely long distance runs.

My suspicion that sprinting was better overall began as a child while watching the Olympics.

Sprinters were rippling with muscle from top to bottom; their calves, thighs, even their shoulders and arms looked like something out of a fitness magazine.

Distance runners looked more like a sack of running bones.

​As mentioned above, my ​suspicion was confirmed while reading The 4-Hour Body​ by Tim Ferriss.

​Yet other research also supports the idea that if you can do it, sprinting will get you a little big more bang for your buck than a typical jogging pace will.

Research today shows that sprinting creates more muscle while burning more fat (source), that oxygen consumption is the same in two minutes of intervals as it is in 30 minutes of sustained cardio workout (source), and that sprinting increases muscle mass more in women (source).

​While all the evidence supported the conclusion that sprinting often had a serious (and attractive) effect on your body, I was a little bit upset to learn this.

Why, you ask?

​Have you ever sprinted? It sucks​. That's why.​​​​

So I came up with a solution. I would compromise. I would sprint, but at the end of my jog.

I'd maximize my exercise while maximizing my enjoyment.

It was the very spirit of being elitely happy.

​So here are some benefits of sprinting at the end of your jog.​​​

​1) ​Increases VO2 Max

​Your VO2 Max is essentially the amount of oxygen your body can process in a given time.

As a general rule of thumb, ​both aerobic (exercises with lots of oxygen) and anaerobic (exercises without much oxygen) will increase your VO2 Max, but research shows that anaerobic increases your VO2 Max by quite a bit more. (source).

Anaerobic exercises would be most exercises where you are unable to breathe adequately for the duration of the exercise. This would be most types of weight lifting, high intensity swimming, and sprinting, among others.

Aerobic exercises are the ones that make you huff and puff pretty consistently. A jog around the park at a moderate pace, bicycling, etc.

A neat thing about exercising is that ​the more anaerobic exercises you do, the better you are at aerobics​.

Meaning that if all you do is burpees, you aren't gonna have much trouble keeping up with your friends when they go to drop some squats.

​The science behind this lies in VO2 Max. The higher your VO2 Max, the less trouble you have with "easier" aerobic exercises.

The VO2 Max is one reason why I always end every long distance jog with a short distance sprint.

In fact, doing this helped me to cut my 3 mile time down by about one minute per mile in just a few weeks.

Sprinting after a jog works as a sort of reset for your body. It trains your body to be able to move faster over periods of time.

An interesting study shows that four sprint intervals​ for four minutes increased the participants' ability to work to exhaustion, ability to synthesize citrate, blood and arterial function, blood volume, and were able to stroke more (meaning they got faster).

Even more relevant to our discussion, only the group that did four sets of four minute exercises increased their VO2 Max, compared to one group that did 10 sets of 1 minutes sprints and another group that did 45 minutes of activity that was only moderate. (source).

​Sprinting after your run helps your breathing, increases your endurance, ​​​makes you faster, ramps up your speed, and shows all your weenie friends how awesome you are.

​2) Increases Heart Rate For Longer

​Sprinting after a run causes your heart rate to go higher and stay higher for the next few minutes than if you had not sprinted at all.

​This is really genius of you to do, if possible.

Let's assume that you're at the end of your run and you are ​absolutely exhausted!

You got it handed to you today.

You're coming in for the final tenth of a mile (any distance works, just an example).

Your body is worn out.

And what do you do?

​Force it to do more​.

​Make it go above and beyond​.

Training your body while it is weakest produces the most results.

Going from a jog to a sprint forces your body to perform at higher levels and to meet this performance, your heart is forced to pump extra blood into the muscles beyond what it normally does.

​​​​​​​​​This causes your heart rate to skyrocket, increasing your VO2 Max and keeping your body burning calories for longer.

Not only does calorie burn last longer, but it is more intense while it does last because your body is forced to use more energy at 160 beats per minute (BPM) than at 120 BPM (pretty obvious actually).

​Sprinting at the end of a run causes your body to burn more calories for longer periods of time than only jogging does.

​3) Decreases Fat

​A common misconception about heart rate is that lower heart rates actually burn more fat.

This is ​kinda​ true.

Calories come in a few forms: calories from fats, calories from carbs, and calories from proteins.

​Your heart has a maximum amount of beats that it can do per minute. A good formula to calculate this is to subtract your age from 220.

​So for example, a 20 year old would have a maximum heart rate of 200 BPM.​​​

Within your max BPM, there are zones where you burn calories.

A standard jog ​will​​​ keep you mostly within your fat-burn range of​​​ 60%-79% of your max heart rate. ​

Sprinting will usually take you into the ​cardio​ zone of heart rate: about 80% or more of your max heart rate.

So some people will say that jogging burns more fat than sprinting because​​​ it keeps you in your fat-burn heart rate range.

However, this is only true to an extent.

In the fat-burn range, you don't necessarily burn more fat. ​You burn more fat calories relative to carbs​.

So let's say for example that every time you aren't working out, you burn 50% carbs and 50% fats.

Don't get too science-y on me, this is just for kicks and giggles and it's in layman language.

While you're in your fat-burn heart rate range, you may burn 80% fats and 20% carbs.

​So in this sense, you do burn more fat while in the fat-burn zone​.

But you burn more ​calories​ by getting into the ​cardio​ zone.

And since calories that are not used are turned into fat...

You burn more fat by sprinting than you do by ​​​​​​​​​jogging.

​In a strict sense, you burn a higher percentage of fat while only jogging.

In every other sense, your caloric burn is higher if you sprint.

So unless you're an ultramathoner, an extreme weight lifter, or anyone on the Paleo diet, the distinction is trivial.

More calories, and thus more future fats, are burned in sprints than jogs.

4) Increases Muscle Mass

Remember my earlier example where I said that as a child, I noticed which Olympians had the hot bods?

Notably, the sprinters were often muscular and obviously in incredible condition.

Distance runners... not so much.

The science behind this is that sprinting increases your muscle mass in a way that distance running does not.

In this study, participants were told to sprint for certain periods of time and after two weeks, their bodies were analyzed.

The participants were found at the end of the study to have stronger muscles that could contract for longer periods of time before exhaustion.

That's geek for "they were stronger and could go longer".

Their VO2 Max was also found to be higher.

Now don't get me wrong, sprinting isn't gonna make you look like the world's strongest guy or gal.

But it does tend to increase muscle density and endurance more than jogging alone does.

C​onclusion

​Thanks for reading!

​While writing this post, I was inspired to go for a run a few times... and each time I ended with a sprint.

​Post in the comments below: what's your favorite running training plan?

If you're lookin to start running but just aren't quite feeling up to it, here's an excellent post on some great benefits of running guaranteed to get you going.

Stay awesome. Have a great day.

​Are We "Best Content On The Internet" Worthy?

​No annoying popups, no frustrating spam begging for your email address.

If you don't think we publish the best content on the internet, we don't ​think we deserve to get to know someone as great as you.

If you do, well here ya go.

Copyright Information: Copyright Elite Happiness. This content may be freely reproduced in full or in part in digital form with full attribution to the author and a link to www.elitehappiness.com. Please contact us for permission to reproduce this content in other media formats.

Free Weights vs Exercise Equipment

Best Bang For Your Buck:

Free Weights Or Machines?

As a frequent gym junkie, I have always had one constant nagging question: "To get the maximum results for my effort spent, should I use free weights or exercise machines?" Sure, Crossfitters almost exclusively use free weights and perhaps the occasional rowing machine, but the meathead on the other side of the gym could curl a truck and I've never seen him use anything that doesn't have a cord attached.

As with most things in life, I have found that the answer is at neither extreme, but somewhere in the middle.

Free Weights Mimic Real Life

Our muscles are often working in ways that we neither expect nor ask them to. Workouts as simple as jumping jacks not only engage your thighs, calves, glutes, and shoulders, but even your abs start getting involved.

In fact, any time your arms go over your chest, your core begins to engage to balance and stabilize your body. An exercise as simple an air squat with your arms held above your head engages these wonderful core muscles while, say, a Smith Machine does not engage these muscles since the stabilization is often done for you.

Free weight exercises are generally more similar to real life movements than exercise equipment. For this reason, free weights can often have a slight edge over exercise equipment when it comes to functional strength.

Exercise Equipment Isolates An Area

It is no accident of nature that most of the meat heads in the gym (the guys who are more or less a walking muscle) spend a lot of their time near the machines.

Equipment is excellent at picking one area and working it to incredible levels.

Exercise machines are very often formed with the purpose of working one muscle and one muscle only. There are machines that work only biceps, machines that work only calves, and machines that work everything else in between to exclusivity.

If your intention is to have cannons for arms, you probably won't do too bad going for the bicep curl or tricep extension machine. Some muscles are notoriously difficult to work in real life circumstances or with free weights. Thankfully, a handy piece of gym equipment can probably scratch that itch.

Free Weights (Usually) Make For Better Cardio Workouts

This rule is not so much a rule as it is a generalization.

Since free weight exercises force your body to work a target area as well as  balance and stabilize, free weight workouts have a higher energy expense than the same workout done on exercise equipment. 

In other words, snatches with a barbell will make you suck down more wind than snatches on something like a Smith Machine.

The reason behind this is simple:

Free weights force your body to activate additional muscles for balance and stabilization. Since more muscles are being used to balance and stabilize, more energy is needed to pull the movement off. In the human body, more energy always means more oxygen is needed.

More energy expended always means that your body is going to be improving something during your next rest period.

This is also the reason why most people are not capable of lifting as much with free weights as they are with machines. With a machine, the work load is almost entirely isolated to a few specific specific muscles. Free weights can employ the much more of the body to pull off a maneuver. The more the whole body is involved, the less a person will be hindered by the weakest muscle.

Think of your body as a chain. Since all chains are only as strong as their weakest link, your body will probably not be able to lift as much in real life circumstances as it is able to life while you're using a machine.

So next time your buddy is telling you how much they've been lifting, be sure to specify whether it was on a machine or not before you start any hasty competitions.

​​Machines Can "Skip" Injuries

​One of my​ favorite things about exercise equipment is that almost every movement imaginable can be modified to avoid an injured area.

​Despite his injury being multiple years ago, my dad still struggles with shoulder pains. As a result, he is almost completely unable to do many free weight exercises that I do.

His salvation is in a piece of exercise equipment.

​While he may be unable to do push ups or military presses, he is more than capable of getting on a piece of exercise equipment and (gently) working his injured shoulder. Since the shoulder is necessary to work the chest and pretty helpful in working triceps, biceps, and back, my dad is able to get a full workout in today, despite his injury, because of a piece of machinery.

If you struggle with an injury, there is almost certainly a way of modifying exercise equipment so that your injury can be worked around and the damaged area still strengthened.​

​​Some ​Equipment Is More Portable And Versatile Than Free Weights

​​While some workout equipment is ​very ​specific in what it works (Read: calf-raise machine), others are the exact opposite.​​​ Systems such as Bowflex have allowed people to get high resistance full body workouts from home, while other systems like rowing machines (we reviewed the best in the world here) help people in all walks of life lose weight quietly, quickly, and inexpensively from home.

Most of my working out is done at an actual gym, but for those who are ​unable to go to a gym, can't afford a membership, or those who travel a lot, exercise equipment has come up with the perfect solution: get a gym in your home.

My personal favorite way to do this is with inexpensive TRX Cables that I ​use while traveling, at my local park, and in my basement (if I'm ​really​ feeling antisocial).​​​

The Verdict

Both free weights and exercise equipment can be useful in your quest for fitness. Free weights are often more of a whole body ordeal and equipment can either isolate a muscle or be used to work multiple parts of your body, depending on its function.

Both free weights and exercise equipment have their roles in working out. You should ask yourself what you want to accomplish and what you want your body to look like.

​Conclusion

​Thanks for reading! I think however you decide to work out, any exercise is better than none. And a cheap, easy exercise that can be tailored for any fitness level is running.

Tell us in the comments below what your favorite way to work out is!

Stay awesome. Have a great day.

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Copyright Information: Copyright Elite Happiness. This content may be freely reproduced in full or in part in digital form with full attribution to the author and a link to www.elitehappiness.com. Please contact us for permission to reproduce this content in other media formats.

Copyright Elite Happiness. This content may be freely reproduced in full or in part in digital form with full attribution to the author and a link to www.elitehappiness.com. Please contact us for permission to reproduce this content in other media formats.