Free Weights vs Machine Weights

By Javier Ibanez

When it comes to new people wanting to do resistance training, usually the first questions they ask themselves is whether to work out on machines or with free weights. There are many great benefits for each type of weight training, but there has always been a debate on which one is better. The only way to get a look at this is to see some of the pros and cons of each.

  • Benefits to free weights:
    • You can do more exercises with less equipment
    • Inexpensive
    • Able to use full range of motion
    • Able to use anywhere
  • Disadvantages to free weights:
    • Greater risk of injury
    • Proper technique takes time to learn
    • Will need a spotter if working with higher weights

Now let’s take a look at machine weights

  • Advantages to machine weights:
    • Usually safer and easier to use
    • Isolate specific muscles
    • Ensure correct movements when used correctly
  • Disadvantages to machine weights:
    • Difficult to strengthen stabilizer muscles
    • Bulky and expensive
    • May have to wait in line to use at a gym

As you can see, there are many advantages to each type of weight training, but it is up to the individual to decide which type they want to do and are best suited for. If you feel like free weights are what you want to do, but you don’t feel that you are ready for them, then it is OK to start off with machine weights first and work your way over to the free weight area. If you know that you are not going to like the free weight area then it is also OK to stick with the machine weights for a while. Personally, I feel like they are both great and they both need to be used for an exercise program to be effective. Something to keep in mind for those that are just getting ready to start but can’t decide which to go with: something is better than nothing, so pick one and get after it. Even if you don’t know which one is better, you will definitely figure out which one you prefer along the way.