Muscle Sport Magazine

Strength Training Machines vs. Free Weights: Which Is Better?

Dave Jackson

If you have ever attended a workout session in a commercial fitness facility, you must have seen machines and free weights used for different kinds of strength training exercises. In the gym, there are individuals who prefer working with machines, there are those who prefer working with free weights and there are those who use both sets in their workout regimen. Now, the million-dollar question stands, which is the better option?

The battle between strength training machines and free weights

This is not a new debate on the fabric, it’s an issue that has been present over decades. Back then, machines were the primary way for a proper workout, and everyone was doing it. If you were seen doing any other form of exercise, you were a weakling.

But as time went by and exercises started evolving, people started to realize that there was a new way of working out to stay in shape and lean, and not to train for size and strength. That is when free weights were discovered; they became the mode of building the core muscles and stabilizing body muscles, which was not present in the era of pure machines for workouts.

Free weights gave birth to functional fitness where people felt confident enough to work out without machines. The competition between the machines vs. free weights is so fierce that machines are coming back with a bang to fill up the gyms, pressing free weights in a corner.

Now, if we ponder on the question as to which one is better, we can agree to disagree that it all depends on the ultimate goals of the person in training. This is concerning the kind of exercises that are good for each person, because, as they say, one man’s meat is another man’s poison and so are the different types of exercises.

Before we get any further, let us look at the pros and cons of free weights vs. Machines so that it is easy to know which one can work for you.


The pros and cons of strength training machines



They isolate muscle groups efficiently

Since your body stabilizes easily on weight machines, larger muscle groups benefit mostly by being worked on efficiently. Machines deliver great results for people who have a good foundation of working out and they are looking to define their physique even further by developing more muscles. Most weightlifters prefer using weight machines to build their body types.

Easy to work with

Most of the machines that are being engineered have a picture that has visible instructions that are easy to use, which is self-explanatory for all intents and purposes. This is a very big advantage because anyone can easily read on their own, see the movements as it is illustrated and start working on the machine on their own. It becomes easy for someone to create a program that is designed to form a circuit training. If you’re looking to purchase a strength-training machine for personal use, visit for a full list of product reviews.


May cause indirect or direct injury

Although weight machines are easy to use without any prior experience, this does not mean that they are suitable for all individuals. You can easily carry more weight, and since your muscles are not yet in shape to carry the weight, you can cause a serious injury. You can also easily cause a serious injury if you use the same movement each day where you continuously add weight.

Neglect smaller muscles

Weight machines are used to isolate muscle groups, but the joints that are located around the joints are not worked on. If the smaller muscle groups are neglected, you can easily risk a chronic injury and form a bad posture.

The pros and cons of free weights


Functional movements are worked on

Free weights and exercises that are induced by the body weight have a greater effect in your daily life than using weights because it mimics the daily movements you undertake, but with more intense movements and weights that make it even tougher.

You can stabilize muscles

Free weights can help to activate the synergistic muscles as you train. They will most definitely help you to keep your joints fully functional and operational if they are used correctly.

Full range of motion is used

You have the freedom to exercise with your full range of motion instead of being restrained by machines that lock you in a particular pattern. You become more naturally build when you work with free weights, and you move even efficiently.


Requires some time and skill

The learning curve of using free weights is high, and you may need the services of a trainer to help you learn the proper technique. You can either have a trainer or a free weight training book. You will need to take some time to learn the bad habits to avoid and work on the best ways to use the weights.

Greater risk of injury if mistakes are made

You can easily injure a joint or a body part seriously. You can tear of a ligament or even dislocate a joint or even tweak a body part which is something you should be careful about. Ensure that you know what you are doing first before adding more weight.

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