Free Weights vs. Gym Machines: What You Need to Know
Bodybuilding Knowledge

Free Weights vs. Gym Machines: What You Need to Know

People who frequent gyms have rather different opinions on how to work out. Some people prefer
the efficiency of free weights, while others like the safety of gym machines. The faceoff between
these two types of workouts includes some strong opinions.

Normally, people prefer free weights over gym machines and vice versa. Therefore, a concentrated examination needs to be made between these two types of workouts. Here is a closer look at the difference between the pros and cons with both free weights and gym machines.

man doing bicep curls

Free Weights

Free weights mean people decide which weights they want to use and how they want to use them.
They are not tethered to a specific machine any more than they isolate which muscle groups on
which to focus. After all, using free weights in exercise is considered more efficient than using gym

Beginners who are new to the gym setting do not understand the importance of using free weights
properly. More often than not, they need someone on standby to train them in proper usage of
these tools. They need to focus on building form and performing motions in safe ways. Therefore,
they want to be sure to have a guru or personal trainer at hand. Going with a personal trainer can
cost a great deal of money up front, though.

Bodybuilders, on the other hand, have a greater grasp as to what they need to do with free
weights. They find a great deal of efficacy in pumping iron to build up their muscles. More often
than not, they gain more well-rounded appearances and muscle mass through free weights alone.
Though, truth be told, some bodybuilders probably do a combination of free weights and gym

To fully understand the aspects of what goes into free weights for exercise, here is a look at the
pros and cons of this type of exercise.

Pros of Free Weights

First and foremost, free weights allow people the chance to perform functional movements. They
have a greater ratio of carrying over into what happens in real-life situations for weight training
and muscle usage. Therefore, athletes benefit more from free weights than gym machines in most

At the same time, people can achieve a full range of motion with free weights, more so than they
can with gym machines. This free movement allows a greater range of how the weights are used,
whereas gym machines lock people into one motion or a few, select motions again and again.
People can perfect their motions with free weights with a little bit of training, and it permits the
body to go about its natural movements with ease.

Using free weights also gains the benefits of using stabilizing muscles. These muscles possess more
synergy, which allows joints to remain healthy. It also provides the right training to joints to keep
them strong and fully operational when exercises with free weights are done properly.
As hinted at earlier, going with free weights allows for endless variation of movements. People are
not limited to one or two forms again and again, and they can change around exercises as needed
to make the process easier on their joints.

At the same time, doing free weights at home is much cheaper than going to the gym and paying a
membership. By purchasing a few, select pieces of free weights, many exercises can be done from
presses to lunges, to squats, to swing and carry methods. These exercises are only the basic
options of what a person can do with one or two free weights.

Cons of Free Weights

First and foremost, people need to consider the higher risk of injury that comes into play with using
free weights. This statement is especially true for beginners who opt not to consult a guru or
personal trainer. Beginners would also do well to have a spotter help them out as well. Sometimes,
having these people available is not always an option, though.

At the same time, it goes without saying that learning the proper technique takes some additional
time. People need to concentrate on their form as much as possible and make sure they do it right
every time.

woman doing legs on a gym machine

Gym Machines

People often opt to go with gym machines, especially when they have a gym membership and
access to multiple machines when they do not know much-abought weightlifting. There are a few
things to consider about using these machines, though.

Pros of Gym Machines

People who are new to weight training benefit from using machines over free weights. There are a
limited number of ways to use these machines, so the room for error and injury is far lessened
than a beginner using free weights. The learning curve of using a gym machine is also much lower
for the same reason.

Furthermore, people can isolate certain muscle groups more easily. In order to pull off this
technique, the machines design blatantly focus on certain muscle groups. Therefore, people can
spend a great deal of their workout just working on one set of muscles again and again. Such a
situation plays a vital role for people looking to build a solid foundation with which their bodies will
work. Additionally, this focus on certain groups allows people the chance to build bigger muscles in
a shorter time frame.

Going with these machines also means people do not have to gain assistance to teach them how to
use the machine or to play spotter. This statement’s truth lies in the fact that people can use
heavier weights without needing assistance. Gym machines have the spotting mechanism built
right into their design, and your body will tell you when too many weights are being used because
it cannot complete the full motion the machine requires.

Cons for Gym Machines

Machines are not functional. While they allow people the chance to build bigger and stronger
muscles, they will eventually reach a plateau that cannot easily be broken. Using this machine is
also not conducive to following paths of primal motion. These machines are locked into doing only
one or two different styles of exercises, and the positions needed to achieve these exercises might
not be natural to some people.

While larger muscle groups gain much-needed attention during workouts on gym machines,
smaller muscle groups do not gain as much attention. These muscle groups focus in around the
joints, so letting them become a little weaker than other muscles can lead to joint strain and
problems down the road.

Ultimately, the largest problem with gym machines is gyms only have a select few machines from
each exercise motion. If they only have one or two of each machine, then these machines fill up
fast during peak hours. These hours could be the same schedule time open for many people, and
they might have to wait for certain machines to become free or they have to change their workout
schedule. Forget to keep leg day on the same day of the week in this case.


When it comes to deciding between free weights and gym machines, people need to make an
educated decision about which one to use. Depending on their financial and time situation, they
might decide to go with one option or the other. If they do not have a workout buddy, then they
might not be able to do free weights.

If they attend a gym during peak hours, then accessing machines might not be possible. Hence, a wise decision needs to be needed between the two from the beginning of establishing a workout regimen with weights.