This post won't be me telling you which one you SHOULD do, but instead giving you a perspective on both so that you can decide for yourself which one fits your goals, challenges you, and interest you. I think for the most part people have a clear understanding of what free weights are and what machines are in the weight rooms, but just in case some people may not. I will go over that because I want everyone to know.  When I think of "free weights", I think of jumping off the high dive for the first time. because in my case it was scary and I didn't know how I wanted to jump off or when, I didn't even know what to think of it other than what happens once I touch the water.  Free weights give some people the same fears: scared, not sure, confused, anxiety, sometimes frustrations, and you feel like one wrong move and either your embarrassed or you fail and you give up. Most people have less reservations about using machines because if you don't know how to use it, it usually has a sticker for you read or because it is easier to ask someone how to use a machine vs a free weight. Now in my situation, I get intimidated by machines because there is constantly new ones and they all look and work differently.. I think of machines as a learning experience sometimes because just when you think you know what you are doing, you find out you haven't been using it correctly.  In both cases this is why some people stick to the treadmill or the elliptical to avoid having to deal with either one & I don't think this is a good idea because you should want to feel confident using a weight machine and free weights as confident as you feel when you are walking on the treadmill.  


Today I am going to talk about both and hopefully this will challenge people to try something different, give you the okay to explore, and motivate you to step outside your comfort level to give something a go. I think the hardest part about this challenge is not knowing if what you are doing is the right way of doing it and feeling insecure because you see people around you lifting heavier weights and using equipment that intimidates you.  Trust me I have been there in both situations, for the longest time I stayed away from free weights at the gym because I was scared of what others would think, I didn't feel confident doing the workouts, I felt weak compared to others and I didn't want to humiliate myself trying to better myself. Same went with the machines, if there was a machine I have never seen and didn't know how to use it, I would avoid it for that reason because I didn't want someone else to think I didn't know what I was doing and I didn't want to look incompetent.  It took the longest time for me to slowly progress outside of my comfort level and try something new; I think my classes helped me and my learning from others helped me to better understand workouts and how they should be done.  If anything the most important thing you need to worry about when you do either of these is making sure you have the correct form and technique down. 


Free Weights


  • Dumbbells, kettlebells, barbell, body weights, sandbags, weighted bars, weight plates, medicine balls, stability balls, resistance bands, etc
  • dumbbell curls, kettlebell swings, barbell curls, plated bicep curls, medicine ball throws, etc
  • Allows you to train functional movements
  • Can use full range of motion
  • Places a greater demand on stabilizing muscles
  • Endless variations
  • train anywhere
  • less expensive equipment
  • Takes skill to learn proper technique
  • Greater risk of injury when not done properly
  • Need a spotter when lifting heavy weight during a squat and bench press
  • good for rehab purposes
  • athletes should free weights
  • bodybuilders should use free weights
  • most people can benefit from using free weights (anybody)

Weight Machines:

  • Easy to learn and use
  • Isolate muscle groups more efficiently
  • Allows you to train with heavier weights without assistance
  • May be more useful for the elderly population and some types of rehab
  • None functional - won't train the complete human movement patterns
  • Neglects smaller stabilizer muscles
  • May cause injury directly and indirectly
  • Fill up during peak hours at the gym


Both of those list have the pros and cons and give you a perspective on how to go about deciding which path to take.  In my case I do a mixture of free weights and weight machines because I want to gradually learn and challenge myself on both; not to mention some exercises are best on one or the other depending on the muscles you are working on.  Anybody can do either one and everybody should try to do either one just to see where you stand with it.  Exercise is about what feels right to you, and no one can tell you which one is best for you, except for you (depending on your own goals).  I can recommend to my clients what one I would have them do but it doesn't mean they like it for themselves, I can tell someone I prefer free weights but doesn't mean they have to prefer free weights, everyone is unique and will find their "niche"; takes time but you will find it! Good luck!



Your fitness Blogger Shay-lon xoxo



Published by Shay-Lon Moss