Exercising is a fantastic way to relieve stress and feel better about yourself. However, it’s important to determine which is better: free weights or machine weights. Let’s find out which is right for you.
Free weights consist of dumbbells, bumper plates, kettlebells, cast iron plates, and other smaller weighted items you can use in any given space. While many use them for bicep, shoulder, back, and tricep movements, they’re great for full-body, core-stabilizing exercises.
Free Weight Pros and Cons
Free weights have pros and cons that can determine whether they’re right for you. As for pros, free weights provide exceptional versatility for performing various exercises and challenging your body to the fullest. Furthermore, their functionality allows you to perform natural compound movements that apply to real-world situations. Lastly, they allow for a full range of motion, which can help stabilize muscles and reduce bodily injury risks.
However, some downsides do exist; free workouts can feel intimidating to absolute beginners and can make for an off-putting experience, especially when trying to find the right weight set. Some exercises require a spotter when working with higher weights, such as bench presses, shoulder presses, squats, and more. Because of movement complexity, you can easily mess up your set with free weights and injure yourself.
If you’ve spent most of your time in commercial gyms, there’s no doubt you’ve seen a machine weight before. Machine weights first gained prominence in the ’80s and ’90s to help new clients into the gym, creating easy, mindless movement from one machine to another. They offer a fixed movement to help users isolate specific muscle groups and are perfect for those with limited gym experience.
Machine Weight Pros
As you determine whether free or machine weights are right for you, keep in mind that machine weights provide more safety and control when performing difficult, complex exercises. They’re also incredibly helpful for rehabilitation patients who want to exercise safely. Furthermore, you move in a fixed pattern that provides stability and control.
Machine workouts also allow for better muscle focus and isolation. They act as perfect solutions for stabilizing smaller muscles and training specific areas. You can better handle weaker, less focused muscles that you feel need work.
Machine Weight Cons
Some minor downsides come with machines, including burning fewer calories and not allowing you to perform a full range of motion around your joints. Furthermore, moving weight through one avenue can feel unnatural and potentially won’t allow you to activate specific stabilizing muscles.
Machine weights can also become incredibly crowded during busier gym times, especially around lunchtime or after work hours. Sticking to a machine weight routine can become especially stressful if you have a time limit or want to get through your workout efficiently at a busy gym.