Tag Archives: strength training

Machines VS. Free Weights

Any workout program you choose, any training style you choose, resistance training (weight lifting) is beneficial to you.  There are two ways to accomplish resistance training, Machines vs. Free Weights.  Machines are stationary, usually plate loaded or have a weight stack and pin system for choosing the amount of weight you wish to lift.  “Free weights” is a broader term, and refers to things like dumbbells, barbells, kettle bells, body bars, and body weight resistance tools such as a BOSU, stability ball or TRX.

Which is better?

Well that depends.  Both have a role in training, and it really depends on what you are looking to accomplish.  Stationary machines are a wonderful tool for beginners, and they help to teach the body about postural awareness, what an exercise should feel like and where exactly you should be feeling it.  Machines are also useful for intermediate and advanced lifters, as they work to isolate specific muscles or muscle groups.    Machines may also facilitate the ability to lift more weight, as you are more stable and controlled.  Stationary machines hold your posture, thus they take out the necessity to have an advanced body awareness, and it can be easy to forget to activate your core muscles. Because a weight machine keeps the body in a stable position, it usually only works the muscle in one plane of motion at a time.

Free weights generally require heightened body awareness, as proper posture and core activation will reduce the risk of injury.  When beginning to lift with free weights, you can start by doing many of the exercises seated as opposed to standing which keep a greater amount of control.  Seated vs standing free weight exercises also allows for heavier weights to be lifted safely.   Moving to dynamic equipment such as a TRX suspension system, a greater awareness of proper posture and core activation is recommended. Free weights also train the body in more than one plane of motion at a time.  The body moves dynamically, and free weight training is more functional in terms of movements in every day life.

There are definitive benefits and drawbacks to both – mix it up and try something new.  Remember that if you need help with any of the topics discussed, spotting, or an idea for a different exercise, please ask us!

Kettlebell Bootcamp at the Eau Claire YMCA

Starts Friday November 1st  12:00-1:00pm – Space is limited.



Learn the exercises that are unique to the kettlebell to enhance the effectiveness of your strength training and improve overall fitness results.

Please call 403-781-1682 for more information or to register today.



Powerlifting workshop @ Eau Claire YMCA

Powerlifting Workshop @ ECY

Representatives from the strength & conditioning departments of all 5 branches in the Calgary association gathered Thursday for a powerlifting workshop hosted by nationally ranked strength athlete and representative of the Alberta Powerlifting Union, Elaine Huba. The session was structured around answering the question “how do you progress from lifting recreationally to lifting for competition?” To this end participants enjoyed a morning of technique coaching, the finer points of stepping on stage versus stepping on to the weight floor and a lot of Q&A.

The biggest take-home point from the workshop was that you don’t have to be a 300lb gorilla to get involved in the sport of powerlifting. Elaine has been called “one of the top 50 strongest women in the history of Canadian Powerlifting” and still has people offer to carry her groceries. Training for powerlifting is vastly different to bodybuilding and very few people are exceptional at both. “Training for maximal strength doesn’t make you bulky, it makes you strong” said Elaine during the session, “there’s a big difference”. Plus there are weight classes so you’ll only ever be competing against others’ on the same playing field as you.

The three movements that comprise Powerlifting are the bench press, squat and deadlift. Each of which are full-body exercises and completely safe when performed correctly, even with maximal loads. In competition you are required to perform a single repetition of each movement to strict standards e.g. demonstrating complete control of the weight. This isn’t an overnight process either, there is a lot of preparation work involved in building up to performing a single repetition and it could take months before you’re ready both physically and mentally. “It’s quite daunting to get under a squat bar with the fear that you might not make it back up” says Elaine, “but when you do, when you really work for the lift and accomplish it, the feeling is beyond anything I can describe.”

If you’ve ever considered taking that next step in your training or if you’re simply interested in advancing your technique, talk to one of the strength & conditioning team at your local branch or contact Geoff Starling directly on the email address below.

Is outdoor bootcamp for you? – The benefits of outdoor bootcamp

Spring is in the air and as the weather starts to warm up and the flowers begin to bloom it’s just feels right to be outside and load up on vitamin D!

Besides the usual benefits of exercising Outdoor bootcamp helps to

  • Increased metabolic rate
  • Increased post-exercise caloric consumption
  • A greater source of fresh air
  • Exposure to  Sunlight to increase vitamin D levels
  • Increase energy level and mood
  • Saves time: since you are outside and working out the same time

Also, because Boot Camps train small groups, they can be tailored to individual fitness and strength. You can adjust the intensity level to your fitness. You will find people with different fitness levels and ability, some might be athletes; others may be coming out of injury and want to build their strength, or only beginning their new life of fitness. But there’s definitely no slacking in Boot Camp, no matter what is your level, you are worked to push through your barriers and reach your goals!

If it sounds like a good fit for you please sign up for the YMCA outdoor bootcamp with a certified instructor!  Come and join the Saddletowne YMCA sessions Tuesday or Thursday 5:30-6:30PM.

Kettlebell at the Eau Claire- Fridays at 12pm – is Full!

Our Kettlebell program starting Friday Feb 8th is now full!

Please watch for the next program in Spring of 2013!


Please call 403-782-1682 for more information!

Yoga – new sessions begin October 29th at the Eau Claire YMCA

Besides increasing flexibility and decreasing stress, yoga is a great way to strengthen your whole body and work on balance training.  Not just for “yogi’s”, yoga is a great addition to any fitness program. Young and old, beginner or advanced participant can benefit from adding a yoga class to their week!

Check it out at the Eau Claire, lots of classes to choose from:

Mondays 7:40-8:40pm – (runner’s focus), Tuesdays 5:00-6:00pm, Wednesdays 10:15-11:15am, Wednesdays 12:00-1:00pm, Thursdays 6:00-7:00am, Fridays 12:00-1:00pm.

Visit www.ymcacalgary.ca or call 403-781-1684 for more information and to register.

Demo Days at the Eau Claire YMCA

Join us September 4th -9th for FREE Demo Days at the Eau Claire YMCA. Try yoga, pilates, TRX, Zumba and much more! See schedule below. Please contact 403-781-1684 for more information.

Tuesday September 4th

Aqua Boot Camp                      12:05-12:50                      Pool            

TRX                                           12:05-12:50                      Studio a/b

Yoga                                           5:00-6:00pm                   Meeting 2/3

TRX                                           5:45-6:30pm                    Studio a/b

Wednesday September 5th

Strength for Triathletes         11:00-12:00pm              Weight floor

Yoga                                          12:05-1:00pm                 Meeting 2/3

Ski and Snowboard Cond.       5:20-6:00pm                 Studio c/d

Pilates Infused Core                6:20-7:20pm                   Meeting 2/3

Zumba                                       6:30-7:30pm                  Studio c/d

TRX Hard Core                         6:30-7:00pm                 Studio a/b

Thursday September 6th

Yoga                                            6:00-7:00am                  Meeting 2/3

Interval Blast                            6:00-7:00am                   Studio c/d

TRX                                            9:30-10:00am                 Studio a/b

Yoga                                            9:30-10:30am                Meeting 2-3

Boxer’s Workout                       5:15-5:45pm                   Studio c/d

Run for your life                        5:30-7:00pm                  Lobby

TRX                                             6:30-7:00pm                  Studio a/b

Friday September 7th

Zumba                                        12:05-1:00pm                Studio c/d

Yoga                                            12:05-1:00pm               Meeting 2/3

Olympic Lifting                          12:05-1:00pm              Weight Floor