Free Weights Vs. Resistance Machines

“What are better for you resistance machines or free weights?”


This is a question I come across on a day to day basis whilst working with clients in the gym. Both of these methods of training can help us improve our strength; however both have their advantages and disadvantages.


Resistance Machines

If you are new to weight training or in the gym training alone then Resistance Machines are a much safer option than using Free Weights. Although Resistance machines are often used for serious weight training the main clientele that tend to use these types of machine are beginners, elderly and recreational gym users.


  • Helps with control of movement
  • Goes through a guided range of motion which is ideal for sports rehabilitation
  • Targets individual muscle groups
  • Provides proper form throughout movement for user


  • Don’t replicate day to day movements
  • Only targets individual muscle groups (many sports person have to perform many different movement working various muscle groups simultaneously)
  • You can only increase the weight by the set weight usually 7-9kg
  • Have to be a member of a gym to have access to Resistance Machines


Free Weights

Free Weights have been proven to promote more rapid strength gains as they require more balance and co-ordination Resistance Machines. Using free weights tend to recruit more muscle groups and muscle fibres which are used to help with the balance and co-ordination. Free Weights allow more variations in range of motion which incorporate the joint stabiliser muscles.


  • Replicate day to day movements
  • You can perform sport specific movements with them
  • You can target a number of muscles groups at the same time
  • Require more co-ordination and control than Resistance Machines
  • Free Weights are more challenging, no assistance given with Free Weights
  • Cheap to buy compared to Resistance Machines


  • Correct form must be learnt before attempting Free Weight exercises to prevent injury
  • A spotter may be required if lifting heavy or challenging weights