Foam rollers can seem like a daunting piece of equipment especially with many people describing it as “torture”. In actual fact, they can form a very beneficial part of your gym routine. Foam rolling is a form of “self-myofascial release” – basically a fancy term to describe self-massage techniques. When used in conjunction with other recovery techniques and an appropriate exercise program, it can help correct muscle imbalances, reduce trigger points (knots within muscles) and inhibit overactive muscles.
The number of reps and sets you complete in your training program should be determined by your goals (i.e. what you want to achieve out of training). The number of reps also relates to how heavy the weight is (i.e. relative to the maximum weight you can lift). As a general rule, the heavier the weight is (relative to your maximum), the lower the number of reps you should complete in a set. An important consideration of resistance training is that your body will adapt specifically to the kind of stress you put on it.
Free weights vs. machines is a longstanding debate around the gym and when there are so many different options for equipment, it can be a very daunting decision to choose what equipment to use.
It’s important to acknowledge that neither machines or free weights is “better” than the other. They serve different purposes and the choice depends on your individual needs and goals around exercise.
Like most things in life, they both have pros and cons and understanding these can help you make an informed decision on when to include machines or free weights into your workout.