The Difference Between Gym Machines and Free Weights

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When you hit the gym, you’ll find plenty of exercise equipment that you can play around. You’ll be greeted with different types of cardio machines, along with dumbbells and barbells as well. There are a lot to choose from and it can be tough what equipment you should be focusing on. Should you go for gym machines? Or consider doing free weights instead?

Well? This depends on you. There may be times where you have to use gym machines and in other times, where you have to use free weights. It all comes down depending on your own preference, your goals, and off course where you’re comfortable with.

To help you decide which one is the one, we’re going to differentiate the two in this article. So you’ll be able to see and decide if gym machines works best for you or the latter.

The Advantages of Gym Machines

There are a lot of workout machines that you can find in the gym. This includes machines like the leg press, leg extension, chest press, lap pulldown, machine curls, and more. So what are the advantages of going with gym machines?

  1. Gym Machines Are Easier to Learn

  • If you’re a beginner, then it’s advisable that you take the gym machines first rather than free weights. Gym machines requires less effort to learn. You just simply walk to the machine, set up yourself, follow the instructions, and then you’re good to go. Most gym machines are locked to a certain place, so having errors are highly unlikely.
  1. Gym Machines Are Safer

  • Moving heavy weights in the gym by yourself may result to injury if you’re not careful. But using gym machines instead of free weights, you’ll reduce your risk of getting injured. Since these machines only stay in one place as mentioned above.
  1. Gym Machines Need No Spotter

  • Free weight exercises always require a spotter especially if you progress to more heavier weights. Doing it alone may lead to injury, because no one will catch you when you fail to lift those weights. But with gym machines, there’s no need to have a spotter behind you. You can comfortably and confidently workout alone.

The Advantages of Free Weights

Now that we’ve seen the advantages of gym machines, it’s time to talk about free weights. Some example of free weights include barbells, dumbbells, and also kettlebells. So what are the advantages of free weights?

  1. Free Weights Are More Functional

  • Working out with free weights seems for functional since it closely mimics every day movements. Because in real life, you can move freely just like working out with free weights. Unlike with gym machines, where you’re restricted to a certain place only. Such example is the deadlift exercise. This free weight exercise teaches you how to pick up heavy objects safely and effectively to be used in real life. Just like the squats, which is something you would do in real life compared to leg presses on a machine. Free weight allows you to independently train each side of your body to improve its balance and stability.
  1. Free Weights Are More Versatile

  • Working out with gym machines also means you need a lot of equipment especially for each different muscle group. You may find some multi-station gym machines that can perform different exercises in just one unit but this one is different. Free weight allows you to exercise anytime and anywhere with only few pieces of equipment. The more you train with free weights, the more independent you’ll become without the need of gym machines.
  1. Free Weights Are More Efficient

  • Compound exercises are more efficient compared to isolated exercises. Such example of compound exercises includes squats, deadlifts, and bench presses. In fact, just by these 3 exercises, you’re working most of the muscle groups in your body. Unlike gym machines, where it only focuses on fewer muscle groups. This means that you’re likely being productive on working out using free weights compared to gym machines.


So now that we’re done comparing the two, you’re probably having a hard time now which one of them to choose. As you can see, neither of them are perfect. Both of them has advantages and disadvantages. This depends on certain type of people also. For some, gym machines works better for them. While others wants to stick to free weights. But in reality, combining both of them is better.

Let’s keep it simple, if you’re new to working out and want to avoid any unexpected injuries as possible, then gym machines is the right choice for you. But if you’re an experienced person that doesn’t encounter any physical injuries in the gym, then go play with free weights, and doing some gym machine workouts later on. But if you’re that person that’s capable of incorporating both gym machines and free weights in your workout routine, then go for it!

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