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Machine VS Free Weights

Machine vs Free Weights

Welcome back REPers!! Coach Christmas here with my thoughts on machine vs free weights training equipment and what to use to see quality results!!

First it’s important to note that whether you use free weights or machine based training equipment, you, your athletes or students will always be ahead of the person who doesn’t train at all!! We know strength training has numerous benefits; stronger bones and muscles, significant reduction in sickness, maintenance of a healthy weight and overall improved quality of life!

That said, when training many people have a preference for training with free weights instead of machines. This is probably because the thought process is that machines are for gym newbies. And sure, there’s some truth to it. Most gym machines have easy to follow instructions and a diagram that new gym goers can easily follow. I would argue free weights and machine exercises are equally effective for increasing muscle mass and strength. Let’s look at the benefits of both:


  • Versatility: free weights provide students and athletes the opportunity to not only develop strength but depending on the exercise, improved balance.
  • Efficiency: exercises like squats and deadlifts recruit over 200 muscles. More muscle recruitment is generally required with free weight exercises. More recruitment = more calories burned.
  • Portability: as it says in the name, free weights can be moved in so many different ways. You can even take it a step further and use free weights in different locations (workout in a park or a track).


  • Time efficient: machines require very little set up, providing students and athletes the opportunity to get right into their exercises.
  • Safety: as I mentioned before, most machines come with a diagram and instructions to help students and athletes understand how to operate it. This provides an additional level of safety for them.
  • Rehabilitation : many machines are a great regression for students and athletes dealing with injuries.

Free weights may feel more complex at first, due to an initial difficulty provided by relatively complex movements patterns.

With practice though- which serves to learn and preserve motor skills – free weight movements become “stable” too: keeping the weight in place becomes much easier, shout out to neural adaptations that maximize the efficiency of the movement, facilitating the recruitment of prime mover muscles.

Overall, it makes sense to keep exercises involving both complex (free weights) and less complex (machines) movement patterns as regular components of a routine, to maximize results.

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