The truth is, each has its advantages and disadvantages.
Free weights advantages:
- incorporate the stabilizing muscles
- tend to more closely match the movement patterns you're likely to need
- are more versatile.
Free weights disadvantages:
- you must learn to balance the weight ... this can be potentially dangerous
- to target the muscle you want, you must use very precise technique
- free weights can be swung for momentum rather than lifted slowly and steadily, which works the muscles better
- training alone can lead to injury
- generally safer and easier to use, an advantage for beginners
- some machines are more efficient than free weights at isolating
- machines ensure correct movements for a lift which helps prevent cheating when muscle fatigue sets in
- Most machines involve moving a weight along a predetermined path, making it difficult to strengthen the stabilizer muscles
- Most machines are geared to the average- sized person
Experienced exercisers may want to use free weights because of the additional training benefits they offer. That said, the combination of both free weights and machines can add variety to your workout. Using machines may also be easier and less discouraging if you’re a novice, because free weights require some coordination to use. To read the full story from the American Council on Exercise, click here.