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Free Weights vs Machine Weights: Which one is better?

Whenever we go to the gym, we come across two main choices- ‘free weights vs machine weights’

Free weights include barbells or hand weights.

Exercise machines have a stack of weights that is lifted through an assortment of pulleys, like leg press, leg curl, etc.

So, today we are going to learn the advantages and disadvantages of both free weights and machine weights. We will also learn proper & improper free weight lifting techniques.

First look at the essentials that you will need for the workout-

  1. Standard workout clothing
  2. Supportive shoes
  3. Fitted lifting gloves (optional)

READ MORE: Gym essentials

Free weights vs machine WEIGHTs: Advantages

1. Allows dynamic movements1. Recommended for beginners
2. Allow a greater variety of exercises2. Convenient
3. Widely available3. Safe: weight can not fall on you
4. Require minimal space5. No spotters needed
5. Strength transfers to daily activities6. No lifter needed to balance the bar
6. Inexpensive7. Offer variable resistance
7. Offer a greater sense of accomplishment8. Ensure correct lifting movements, which prevents cheating when tired
8. Most serious bodybuilders and lifters use free weights 9. Easy to use: require less skill than free weights
9. Improves balance10. Easy to move from one exercise to the next
10. Move through a great range of motion (ROM)11. Easier to adjust
12. Easier to isolate specific muscle groups
13. Back support is present on most machines
14. Some offer high-tech options like varying resistance during lifting motion

Free weights vs machine weightS: dis-advantages

1. Not as safe as exercise machines: weights can fall off the end of the bar or can pin or smash you when muscle tire1. Limited availability: may need to go to the club
2. Balancing is required, which can be difficult and dangerous (e.g., weights overhead or while during squats)2. Expensive
3. Require spotters for some exercises3. Require a lot of space
4. Allow cheating by swinging for momentum when muscle tire4. Do not allow natural movements
5. Require more time to change weights5. Most machines have only one exercise
7. Clutter creates a hazard when weights are scattered6. Less motivation: only working against resistance on a machine

Before jumping to the final conclusion, let’s discuss some more things about machines and free weights:

Weight-machine training safety

While using machine weights, you must look for your safety-

  • Keep away from moving weight stacks
  • Stay away from moving parts of the machine that could pinch your skin
  • Do not lift in an awkward position
  • Beware of broken bolts, frayed cables, broken chains, or loose cushions
  • Be alert to what is happening around you

How to lift free weights properly

free weights vs machine weights
  • Keep weights close to your body as possible
  • Keep your hips and buttocks tucked in
  • Wrap your thumbs around the bar when gripping it
  • Keep your hands dry and wear gloves to prevent blisters
  • Warm up before lifting
  • If you feel nausea during exercise, stop immediatly
  • Do proper stretching to make your workout more effective
  • Take proper rest between sets
  • Use collars and spotters
  • When picking up weight from the ground keep your back straight and head level or up
  • Perform exercise slowly and with good form
  • Perform all lifts through full ROM
  • Do static stretching after the workout

Improper free weights lifting techniques

Do not do the following:

  • Bend at the waist with legs straight
  • Jerk while lifting weights
  • Lift beyond the limits of your strength
  • Arch your back while lifting weights
  • Hold your breath while lifting
Holding your breath can make you dizzy and faint, and could bring on a condition known as the valsalva maneuver. Your wind pipe is blocked and as pressure builds up in your lungs, your BP will shoot up. This will increase the risk of a heart attack, stroke, or hemorrhage.

The Final Conclusion:

Free weights vs machine weights: which is better? The answer to this question is not definitive. As we see, there are pros and cons of both free weights and machine weights. More advantageous may seem to come out are the free weights as they provide full ROM, are less expensive, and are easily available, but that doesn’t mean to completely neglect the machines. You should use both free weights and machine weights according to the exercise you are going to do.

The main point is that your trainer must have proper knowledge of what is more beneficial according to your fitness program and your ability.

Thank you for reading this so far. We hope this article helped you and make your queries solved. If you still have any doubt or queries left, you are free to ask us at