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The Pros and Cons of Free Weights vs. Machine Weights

March 06, 2023 3 min read

The Pros and Cons of Free Weights vs. Machine Weights

Everyone has an opinion on the best type of weight training. Some swear by free weights, while others prefer machines. But which one is better for you? The best way to decide is to weigh the pros and cons of each type of weight training.

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The Pros of Free Weights

Free weights allow you to use your own body as resistance. You don't need a machine to provide resistance, so you can move through a range of motion that is more natural and unrestricted than with machines. This allows you to work out muscles in ways that machines cannot, such as with squats and deadlifts.

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When using free weights, you also require more core stability and strength. This means that you will be engaging more muscle groups and working on improving overall strength and balance. This balanced approach can help you build a stronger foundation for all other physical activities.

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Finally, free weights are much cheaper than machines. All you need is a simple set of dumbbells or barbells and you're ready to go. Plus, you won't have to worry about maintenance costs when using free weights.

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The Cons of Free Weights

The main disadvantage of free weights is that they require more balance and coordination. This can make it difficult for beginners to get the form right on exercises like squats and deadlifts, which can lead to injury. If you're just starting out, it's best to use lighter weights and focus on perfecting your form before increasing the load.

Another downside of free weights is that they offer limited resistance. You are limited to how much weight you can lift, and the weight increments can be large. This means that it can be difficult to increase the resistance in small amounts, which can make it hard to track your progress.

The Pros of Machine Weights

One of the biggest advantages of machine weights is that they can provide a greater range of resistance. Machines typically come with adjustable weights, so you can add or reduce the amount of resistance to suit your needs. This makes it easier to track your progress and ensure you're challenging yourself sufficiently.

Also, because machines are stationary and do not require any balancing or coordination, they are ideal for beginners. Machines also provide more consistent resistance throughout the movement, which helps to reduce the risk of injury.

Finally, machine weights are much more versatile than free weights. Most machines have multiple settings and handles, so you can target different muscle groups from various angles. This makes them ideal for those who want to target specific areas and avoid overworking certain muscles.

The Cons of Machine Weights

The main disadvantage of machine weights is that they can limit your range of motion. Machines usually only allow you to move in one plane, so you won't get the same dynamic movements that you would with free weights. This can make it harder to develop full-body strength and balance.

Also, machines can be more expensive than free weights. Not only do you have to pay for the machine itself, but you may also have to pay for maintenance and repairs if the machine breaks down.

Finally, machines can be restrictive. Because they offer a limited range of motion, they can also limit your creativity when it comes to designing workouts. This can make it harder to keep your workouts interesting and challenging over time.

Both free weights and machines have their pros and cons, and there is no right or wrong choice. Ultimately, the best type of weight training for you will depend on your goals and experience level. If you're a beginner, machines may be better suited to your needs. But if you're looking to add some variety to your workouts, free weights might be the way to go.