Machines vs. Free Weights: How to Choose

Many people know that strength training has benefits, but with all the equipment at the gym, it can be overwhelming to figure out where to start. Without a doubt, both machines and free weights can be beneficial when starting strength training. However, depending on your level of experience and fitness goals, the equipment you select may differ.


If you are more of a beginner in the gym, you may want to try using machine weights. This is a great start because machines allow you to keep proper form throughout the movement. This helps reduce your risk of injury by preventing you from going outside of the exercise’s range of motion. Machines are made to work a specific muscle, so you know what you will be focusing on when you use them. Also, most machines these days will include pictures and/or QR codes with instructions. With this guidance you will be set up for success.


If you are a little more experienced, you may consider using free weights. Free weights are much less stable than machines. Instability causes you to work more muscle groups, therefore getting more out of your workout. However, the higher level of instability can impact the risk of injury. You can potentially drop a weight, move outside your optimal range of motion, or use improper lifting techniques. A good rule for free weight beginners is to start lighter until you get used to the exercise, then work your way up. Remember that you aren’t alone! When using free weights, you can always ask one of our certified fitness experts to check your form or find a gym buddy to spot you. Your safety and comfort are our first priority with Corporate Health Unlimited!


Overall, whether you are beginner or advanced, anyone can use machines or free weights. Advanced users may want to isolate a muscle, so they use a machine. A beginner may want to challenge themselves a little more, so they use a dumbbell. Remember that you can always mix or match! Maybe a blend of some machines and some free weight exercises is the ideal mix for you. At the end of the day, knowing a more about gym equipment helps you choose what’s best for you and your fitness journey.