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Shawn Ray

Shawn Ray

Shawn Ray, a titan in the bodybuilding industry, now brings his extensive experience to Muscle Insider’s audience. A Hall of Fame bodybuilder, Shawn has stood among legends in the sport, including Jay Cutler, Dexter Jackson, Dorian Yates, Kevin Levrone, and many others. Whether winning the Arnold Classic, or his many near victories on the Mr. Olympia stage, Shawn has continued to evolve in the industry, and transitioned into various roles like journalism and event promotion. Known for his articulate insights and profound knowledge of the sport, Shawn's writings are expected to enrich readers with deep dives into the technical aspects of bodybuilding, fitness trends, and athlete development strategies. His experience not only illuminates the complexities of competitive bodybuilding but also guides enthusiasts and professionals alike through the evolving landscape of fitness.

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Free Weights vs Machines

Looking back at what some would call “The Golden Era of Bodybuilding,” the vast majority of top bodybuilders in the 90’s would train with free weights, meaning barbells and dumbbells almost exclusively.

It wasn’t until the 2000’s that many top bodybuilders started to implement the use of machines on a more regular basis in their training regimes with the inclusion of more gym and fitness manufacturers, coming out with different styles and techniques to use in place of free weights. Gym manufacturing companies like; Flex, Body Masters, Icarian, Gym 80, Techno Gym, Matrix, and others were competing for a space in the industry. To help with sales and marketing of their innovative training inventions, these companies started using top athletes as models and the magazines use of their products in photo shoots! Back in the day, compound movements were all the rage for the hard-core bodybuilder Squats, Deadlifts, Bench Press, etc. until it wasn’t.

The magazines and television would show exercise machines from the future that every athlete wanted to try in their own workouts and to be photographed using one day, in efforts to emulate their heroes who were prominently featured on the magazine covers and inside magazine training articles.

During competition preparation top athletes began using machines with more frequency for a few reasons; to avoid injury, isolate the muscle groups, etch in detail, photo shoots, you name it!

During off season most bodybuilders would use the free weights to build size and use the machines to sculpt and shape. The school of thought being that the heavy weights didn’t or couldn’t hit certain areas of the body for details between the muscles in the final weeks of preparation. Now, whether that’s true or not we may never know, however combined seemed to be a win-win for the body and the bodybuilder!

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