Machines or Free-weights: All You Need to Know

If you’re new to the gym, then it’s very normal you have quite a few questions about machines or free-weights. However, free weights are the most efficient instruments for muscle growth. Machines can still have a place in your exercise routine, but many lifters of the old school will claim that free weights are the only way to pack serious muscle and that the machines are a waste of time. In fact, free weights stimulate more muscles than machines, which are ideal for muscle building in the long run. However, at the end of the workout, when your muscles are exhausted, machines are better and will help you continue your training safely.

Machines or Free Weights

- Advertisement -

Free Weights including dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, and anything you can keep and pick up, will make your body work against gravity. You may need a bench to sit on or lie on for certain workouts, or other facilities such as a squat cage to work with the weight. Machines include anything you are sitting in or on while pulling or pushing a lever through a particular movement range. A leg extension machine, for instance, or a pressing machine for the chest. However, machines are not always a bad thing. (1)

At the end of a gym session, bodybuilders sometimes use machines to target particular muscles. While someone can agree that free-weight compound exercises are the most efficient lifts that can be performed in the gym. However, there are many instruments that will boost muscle growth both inside and outside the gym. For instance, eating nutritious foods also builds muscles. Similarly, machine cannot replace traditional barbells and dumbbells. In fact, free-weight exercises should be the cornerstone of your lifting routine because of their overall effect on muscle growth and overall body anabolism.

Related article: 9 advantages of an elliptical machine workout


Increasing your weight and reps and executing your workout in proper form should be your primary focus in the gym, particularly on the large muscle group lifts, such as squats and deadlifts. Some machine exercises, however, are efficient and will have a place in your regular workout routine.

Suggested article: Most effective aerobic exercises and their benefits


  1. Wirth K, Keiner M, Hartmann H, Sander A, Mickel C. Effect of 8 weeks of free-weight and machine-based strength training on strength and power performance. J Hum Kinet. 2016 Oct 15;53:201-210. doi: 10.1515/hukin-2016-0023. PMID: 28149424; PMCID: PMC5260589.
- Advertisement -
Naeem Durrani BSc
I am a retired pharmacist, nutrition expert, journalist, and more. My interests include medical research, and the scientific evidence around effective wellness practices, which empower people to transform their lives.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter and get notified about new articles right in your inbox.

Your privacy is important to us.