Free Weights vs. Machine Weights: A Comparison of the Two

There is a lot of debate in the fitness world on whether free weights or machine weights are more effective. Both methods have their advantages. Free weights are less limiting when it comes to range of motion, enabling you to strengthen a wider range of muscle groups. Machine weights, offer a different advantage: the ability to isolate and target specific muscles. Below you will find a breakdown of the differences and benefits as well as tips to combine the two for optimal results.

Free Weights

The free weight advantage: pros of using free weights include an increased capacity to build strength in the stabilizer muscles and increased versatility.

When using free weights, both the muscles you target and your stabilizer muscles get a workout. Which muscles are stabilizers you may ask? It all depends on the type of exercise you are doing. Stabilizer muscles are those that keep your body balanced and steady when performing a set. The stronger your stabilizer muscles are, the less likely you are to incur an injury both in the gym and out on the field.

Another advantage is increased versatility. With free weights, your options are essentially limitless. A set of dumbbells can be used to work everything from your glutes to your biceps. For additional muscle mass, simply increase your weight as you go along.

Tip: While free weights give you the ability to perform a wider range of motion, it is important to remember to use the proper technique to avoid injury. Your personal trainer will not only show you how to do a free weight exercise, but will also correct you as needed to ensure it is done safely. 

Machine Weights

The machine weight advantage: pros of using machine weights include the ability to isolate specific muscles and reduced risk of injury.

The ability to isolate muscle groups is particularly advantageous when fulfilling muscle specific workout plans or post rehabilitation. Physical therapists often prescribe isolation exercises post surgery to strengthen muscles that have weakened from lack of use.

Isolation can also be helpful to solve for muscular imbalances, e.g., quad dominance. Because machines essentially force you into the proper technique/position, there is less likelihood that further injury will occur and less of a learning curve for beginners.

Benefits of Combining the Two

Both free weights and machine weights have their advantages. Fortunately, you do not have to choose between the two. In fact, the best exercise plans include a combination of free and machine weights for optimal strength and conditioning.

Whether you are looking to increase strength, lose weight or recover from a past injury, our personal trainers will work with you to develop a comprehensive exercise plan. They will show you how to use each set of equipment, check for comprehension and ensure the proper technique for optimal results. Learn more about what to expect from our trainers at Core Results.

Categories: How to Workout Strength Training