So Ironthumb says that free weights preferably consolidated, high central nervous system-involving moves and lifts are your best bet for stimulating overall muscle and strength gains. Lately we have even been playing around with the Squat-first protocol learning that it might boost T levels therefore priming your body for growth for the whole duration of the workout.
9 Part Guide to Bigger CHEST (if clicking doesn't work- right click and hit "Save link As")
But don’t take the Ironthumb’s word for it because today “Science” WILL tell you that free weights induce more T level gain than machine work of the same poundage. For most of you that might seem like a common sense but please understand that it is of utmost importance for us that our training protocols and principles are as guided by science as much as they are by experience.
We refer to this study: The acute hormonal response to free weight and machine weight resistance exercise
Resistance exercise can acutely increase concentrations of circulating neuroendocrine factors, but the effect of mode on this response is not established. The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of resistance exercise selection on the acute hormonal response using similar lower-body multi-joint movement free weight and machine weight exercises. Ten resistance trained men (25±3 yr, 179±7 cm, 84.2±10.5 kg) completed 6 sets of 10 repetitions of squat or leg press at the same relative intensity separated by one week. Blood samples were collected before (PRE), immediately after (IP), and 15 (P15) and 30 min (P30) after exercise and analyzed for testosterone (T), growth hormone (GH), and cortisol (C) concentrations. Exercise increased (p<0.05) T and GH at IP but the concentrations at IP were greater for the squat (T: 31.4±10.3 nmol•L; GH: 9.5±7.3 μg•L) than for the leg press (T: 26.9±7.8 nmol•L; GH: 2.8±3.2 μg•L). At P15 and P30, GH was greater for the squat (P15: 12.3±8.9 μg•L; P30: 12.0±8.9 μg•L) than for the leg press (P15: 4.8±3.4 μg•L; P30: 5.4±4.1 μg•L). C was increased after exercise and was greater for the squat than for the leg press. Although total work (external load and body mass moved) was greater for the squat than for the leg press, rating of perceived exertion did not differ between modes. Free weight exercises appear to induce greater hormonal responses to resistance exercise than machine weight exercises utilizing similar lower-body multi-joint movements and primary movers.
The study has proven that squats stimulated better hormonal response (GH, Testosterone) than leg presses done with the same weight, rep and intensity scheme.
Free weight exercises appear to induce greater hormonal responses to resistance exercise than machine weight exercises utilizing similar lower-body multi-joint movements and primary movers.
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So for best results focus on high intensity, multi-joint, free weight lifts. Only give room for machines in your regimen after you have trained for more than 6 months and even then your focus must still be with the big-boy moves (deadlifts, squats, and other free weight moves).
You can refer to our list of High CNS lifts to guide you on how to prioritize the lifts that will bring you the most gains. Excerpt:
Traps: Farmer walks
Shoulders: Upside down pushups
Chest: weighed dips and weighed push-ups
Back: Inverted rows and Chins (any grip)
Biceps: supinated grip chins shoulder width
Triceps: Weighed bench dips
Lower Back: Hyper extensions and Deadlifts
Quadriceps: Free weight barbell squats
Hamstrings: Good Mornings and stiff legged Deadlifts
Calves: Standing Calf raises and donkey calf raises with a partner straddled on your back
So now I hope you understand why we loooveeee squats and deadlifts – it’s for your TESTOSTERONE, baby! Eat your eggs, people!