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Free Weights vs. Machine Exercise

By Muscle Media


Something to keep in mind is that when you exercise, you are training for life.  Although you may spend an hour a day in the gym, that still leaves another 23 hours for your muscles to function without using any fancy equipment.  Whenever you exercise, the movement of your body is known as the range of motion.  The greater the range of motion is, the more effective the exercise will be. Your body has to work harder to perform the movement. Especially with weights.


For instance, movement involved in the classic dumbbell bicep curl.  If you aren’t familiar with the exercise, it’s performed by standing up straight, palms facing forward, with a pair of dumbbells held down by your sides.  You’ll contract your biceps to bring the dumbbells up to your shoulder height, lower to the starting point, and repeat the movement.  To perform that same exercise on a bicep curl machine, you should sit down, brace your upper arms on a pad, grasp the two handles in front of you, and move the handles in an upward motion.  Looking at the muscle contractions involved, you’re essentially contracting your biceps. But, that is pretty much all you are doing.  When you use the machine, you’re sitting down.  This will limit how much your shoulders are involved.  The machine has this exercise limited to the biceps.

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When using machines, you will be limited as to the range of exercises you can perform.  You must always follow a strict procedure, following a limited range of motion with few options.  Unlike free weights, machine weights offer varying degrees of resistance.  However, instead of having to drag weights over to your exercise area, you simply select the resistance on the machine.  When you are tired during a workout, this can be a blessing.



Many trainers believe that free weights are the best for your body.  While others feel that machines are the best.  Certainly, there are pros and cons.  Although free weights have been around a lot longer and have been shown to achieve dramatic results. Bodybuilders have used free weights for years to build very impressive bodies.  If you ask most of them about machine weights, they would probably laugh at you.


Free weights will use more of your total body muscles than the machines do, which may make them more effective.  This doesn’t mean that the machines are a waste of time.  In some cases, such as rehabilitation, it’s best to stabilize the muscles being used.  In this case, machines are the best choice.  Ultimately, the decision should be based on what you hope to achieve, and where you plan to use the equipment, such as home or at a gym.  Both are great for your body.  Regardless of your decision, the most important thing is to actually use them.

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