Q.This is a comment on an earlier column on the difference between free weights and machines. I think you have given an answer that reflects your professional status, rather than one that helps amateurs and weekenders. There is a huge difference between free weights and Nautilus machines. Nautilus locks you in a position that makes it very difficult for you to cheat. Most of the machine exercises will work on the designated muscle groups. A point that you didn't consider is that your athletes know the value of not cheating. Most amateurs don't.
A. I reviewed my column on strength-training equipment to determine why you (and possibly others) misinterpreted my message. In your letter, you questioned why I would recommend free-weight equipment over Nautilus. Be assured that was not my intent.
My attempt to remain neutral regarding equipment has probably confused you and others. There are differences between and among the various types of equipment and some are better designed than others. The Nautilus equipment you mentioned does provide structural and technical advantages when compared to the barbell.
There are many advantages to using Nautilus equipment. Two distinct structural advantages are the keys to maximum gains: rotary resistance and direct resistance. The Nautilus machine was the first equipment to have these qualities. Many equipment companies have since adopted them.
Many people don't have access to such equipment. The theme from my previous column was that all equipment (including barbells) produces results if properly used.
If it's any consolation to you, keep in mind that we have 33 machines at Redskin Park and only two barbells. In an attempt to sound unbiased, perhaps I sounded biased. I agree with you that there are some advantages of a machine over a barbell for the average fitness enthusiast.
You also mentioned that our athletes know the value of not cheating. Keep in mind it's possible to cheat with any equipment. It's actually more tempting for our athletes to cheat, because they are training with extremely high intensity and discomfort. Without strict supervision, form and technique will erode as the intensity of exercise increases. It's easier for the average fitness enthusiast not to cheat (once he or she has learned correct form) because of the lower level of training intensity.