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Affective response to acute resistance exercise: a comparison among machines and free weights

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This study aimed at investigating enjoyment, affective states (affective valence and perceived activation), and perceived exertion during acute resistance exercise with machines or free weights.


Thirty recreationally strength-trained males performed two training sessions on 2 separate days using a descending pyramid training system, one performed with three machines (chest press, shoulder press machine and leg press) and the other with three free weight exercises (bench press, front military press and squat). The Physical Activity Enjoyment Scale, the Borg Scale for Rating of Perceived Exertion, the Feeling Scale, and the Felt Arousal Scale were administered at the end of each session.


Analyses revealed higher scores on all the variables when participants exercised with free weights (p < 0.001). Enjoyment was positively related to perceived exertion only in the free weight session (r = 0.45; p < 0.01). When looking at the circumplex model of affect, results showed that resistance exercise performed with free weights resulted in a pleasant activation feeling for all participants, while the machine training condition determined high-activation pleasant state for the majority but also cases of low-activation, displeasure state.


Resistance training with free weights resulted in increased pleasantness and activation compared with machine training. The establishment of resistance training programmes should consider, close to physiological and technical aspects, also the affective response to different modalities of exercise, particularly when the aim is improving the general fitness.

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Correspondence to Attilio Carraro.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest relating to the publication of this manuscript.

Ethical statement

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the University of Padua research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Written informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Carraro, A., Paoli, A. & Gobbi, E. Affective response to acute resistance exercise: a comparison among machines and free weights. Sport Sci Health 14, 283–288 (2018).

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