Free Weights Or Machines: Which Is Best?

free weights or machine weights

Should I Be Using Free Weights or Machines?


You step into the gym and you find yourself among an array of unusual apparatus. If you are new to the gym you may not really know what they do, how to use the, and what body parts they are supposed to workout. Even long-standing gym goers find themselves with new equipment that they are dubious of. They gaze at them for a bit watching others dismal attempt at using them. Then you buck up the courage and follow suit.

Now we recommend watching other at the gym as you can pick up some very good exercises and techniques as long as long as they have experience themselves but, don’t become that creepy guy. Watching less experienced individuals sometimes has its benefits too, though. Not to pick up techniques to follow, but instead standing back and seeing if their technique is poorly executed and how yourself could improve on this. Remember when you are performing an exercise you cannot see how you actually engage your muscles and how you maintain form and control. This is why they have mirrors in the gym, they are not for posing (we’ve all seen them) but to maintain a check on form and control, so do make use of them.

So when you step back and watch others performing their exercises, in your mind attempt to figure out what muscles they should be working and then note whether, with the technique they are performing, they are hitting the correct muscles effectively. Often, unless they well experience, you will find that their technique and form is poor, failing to target the muscles that they are supposed to sufficiently.

Choosing to utilize free weights more over machines as a beginner or vice-versa may have serious effects on the speed in which you build muscle.  When you are watching others, try to note how they would execute a technique using free weights over the machine or vice-versa.  Try to imagine what muscles you are supposed to target and whether you will acquire a full contraction with the form they are doing.  Will the free weights induce a tighter muscle contraction, or involve a larger number of muscle fibers over the machines when performing that exercise?

We are going to divulge into when and how to utilize free weight and weighted machine for optimal training results in the gym.



How Machines Can Be Safer Initially

Free weights are superior to building muscle mass effectively over weighted machines. Machines do have their benefits; so don’t put them to one side completely.

Machines can be safer to use over free-weights because, most weighted machine force the user to sit in a specified position while using them. This means will little knowledge a user can somewhat pick up the “correct” action to perform an exercise. Once you are satisfied with understanding the movement, over time you could move that across to a free-weighted movement to replicate.

This in a sense means that weighted machines may be safer to some degree, as often they force your body into certain movements, isolating muscles due to the machines fixed motion. So you can pick up the movement somewhat of a correct movement without stemming injury through poor form.

The second reason why machines could be safer over free weights is if you don’t have a spotter, then its fixed positions will prevent misguided actions, especially if you are lifting heavy weights, preventing injury.



Why Free Weights Are Better

Using free weight will allow your body to stimulate a larger group of muscle. You will be targeting the key muscle plus stimulation the stabilizing muscles around that target muscle. This will allow for optimal growth, through engaging the maximum amount of muscle at one time.

Free weights will allow for a more natural movement when performing an exercise compared to fixed machines. This will allow you to control the weight more and move the weight using a precise action for a much tighter and controlled muscle contraction.

Having more free movement over the contraction of the muscle will prevent injury to the muscles, as you have the ability to manipulate where the tension is focused on the muscles. You essentially can finely adjust the movement of the exercise to transfer the stress points when you feel too much strain.  You may find some machines will direct your form into a too tight, too stressful movement, and if you are lifting heavy then there could be repercussions.




How Machines Can Put Stress on Specific Muscles To Push Boundaries

Machines do have their benefits. At times we stagger in our training, struggling to increase the weight that we are lifting for weeks on end. Doing the same routines will not get you where you want, you need to adapt your training routines to stimulate muscle growth.

Lifting heavier weights is one way to help you push boundaries if you don’t have a spotter to help you get the heavier weights up then the machine could be a good option.

Using certain machines may also take the tension away from the stabilizing muscles; this means you can really concentrate all efforts on a specific muscle. You will often find that you can lift more weight using machines than using free weights, and it’s because of the lack of stabilizing muscles involved.

A good example of how machines can push boundaries is in chest development. Free weights are critical for full chest development; however using the bench press machine will take pressure away from the delts, and triceps. You can really focus all of the contraction on the pectorals and also go to failure without fear of losing control of the weight as it is fixed.



So Which Is Best, Free Weights or Machines?

Free weights are essential to anybody wishing to see results in the gym, that be a bodybuilder, a new gym goer, or someone just wanting to improve their fitness and physique.  Focus on the free weights for compound moves especially, but machines may be useful for a beginner who is unsure of exact exercise movements and techniques.

The machines can also aid a more experienced individual to break plateaus in their training; allowing them to lift a greater weight, focusing tension on specific muscles, and allow them to train the muscle to failure without the fear of losing control.

That said, we say free weight are king! But machines have their uses.



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