Free Weights vs. Machines


by Taylor Mogg

If you walk into any gym or fitness facility there is an overwhelming amount of exercise equipment, consisting of free weights and machines. How do you know which equipment is best for you? Below is a list of advantages of both free weights and machines to hopefully make it easier to choose the next time you’re in the gym.

Free Weights

  • Recruit more muscle groups.
    • Free weights make it easier to train more than one muscle group in an exercise.
  • Range of motion is larger.
    • With a free weight you are able to move your body more freely and therefore the range of motion is greater.
  • Free weights promotes balance and coordination.
  • The movements are used in everyday life.
  • Sport specific movements are better performed with free weights.


  • Better for beginners.
    • On most machines there are pictures of how the machine should be used.
  • Easier to isolate muscles.
  • Easier to control the movements.
    • Making it easier to have the correct form.
  • Less risk of injury.

Assistant Professor, Kinesiology and Health Studies department