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Free Weights VS Machine Weights – Gym Showdown !

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When you walk into the gym nowadays it’s pretty much guaranteed that they’ll have a large selection of both machine weights and free weights. You’ve heard that using free weights to train is much better than using a machine, but is that actually true ? This has been an on going debate in the fitness community ever since machine weights came into the picture and by the end of this article you’ll know the truth. Now let’s fully compare both approaches and see which one reigns supreme !

Free Weights

First up is free weights which include your barbells, dumbbells and kettlebells. They’re inexpensive and very versatile, but it may take a few tries until you get used to training with free weights while utilising proper form.

barbell on mat

Pros

  • Works More Muscles – Using free weights allow you to work more muscles at the same time, especially when doing compound movements like the bench press, deadlift and squats.
  • Endless Amount Of Variation – With just one barbell or dumbbell you can do hundreds of different exercises.
  • Much Cheaper – For anyone trying to build a home gym or if you have no access to a gym free weights are much cheaper than machines.
  • Allows Full Range Of Motion – When it comes free weights you almost always have complete freedom to move around rather than being locked in a specific range or pattern.

Cons

  • Harder To Learn Proper Form – When it comes to doing an exercise with proper form you need to have a trainer show you or do your own research on how it should be properly done. It may take a while to perfect your form, but before you do make sure you only use light weight to practice.
  • Higher Risk Of Injury – Free weights only increase your risk of injury if you don’t know the proper technique to perform a exercise, if bad form is used during an exercise it is very easy to damage a joint or tweak something in your body.

Machine Weights

Machine weights include any exercise machine used for weight training where you either need to push or pull a handle/lever through a specific range of motion. They’re very expensive and some machines can cost over $10000, but perfecting your form on a machine is something most people can do on their first try.

gym machines

Pros

  • Easier To Learn – Most machines have a clear explanation on how it is supposed to be used and a picture of what muscle groups it targets, making it easy for you to learn and use it.
  • Great For Rehabilitation – For anyone that is trying to recover from an injury machine weights make it easier for you to work around those injuries because they often isolate each muscle group.
  • No Assistance Needed – When you need to train heavy or break a PR then you’ll need a spotter to prevent an injury if anything goes wrong, but with machines you can add extra weight without needing any assistance.

Cons

  • Always Need To Be At A Gym – Unless you can afford all the machines needed for your workout then the only place you can train is at the gym.
  • Non Functional – Machine weights don’t translate well into fitness and strength for daily activities/athletics because they don’t train your normal movement patterns.
  • Neglects Your Stabilizing Muscles – Since most machines target and isolate one muscle group your stabilizing muscles around your joints won’t be used. If your stabilizing muscles take a back seat for too long then you’ll increase your risk of a chronic injury.

The truth is that no single piece of weight training equipment reigns supreme they both have there pros and cons. The choice is purely based on your fitness goals, body type (some people with long femurs have a hard time squatting) and personal preference, so whatever type of equipment you choose to train with just make sure that you always use proper form/technique.

deadlift

If you have anymore questions about free weights or machine weights then please feel free to leave a comment down below.

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