Difference Between Free Weights and Weight Machines

Machines and free weights only apply a small amount of stress to your muscles, therefore they are typically equally effective for promoting muscular growth.

The choice of exercise is always a personal decision based on each person's goals, talents, and history with exercise. Additionally, depending on height, limb length, and torso length, the way that particular exercises are performed might differ from person to person, affecting which muscles are used more intensely than others.

The length of your thigh and shin bones, for instance, will have a big impact on how upright or bent over you become as you lower into the movement when executing a squat. A hack squat or leg press may be a better alternative to the standard squat if necessary.

There is a lot of conflicting advice about which is better for assisting you in reaching your fitness goals. Do using free weights and machines together have to be mutually exclusive or is there room for both? In this article we will understand the difference between free weights and weight machines.

What are Free Weights?

Free weights refer to a broad range of equipment types, including barbells, kettlebells, medicine balls, and even weighted ankle cuffs. Dumbbells may be the first item that comes to mind when you hear the word "free weights," but many other items also fall under this general category.

In essence, a free weight is any weight that is unrestrictedly movable in any direction. The form and size of free weights can vary. Dumbbells, which are small bars that have the same weight on both sides and that you hold in your hands, can be used. Since you lift using your shoulders, back, or both hands at once, full-size bars are longer and often allow you to carry more weight. Plates that slot into the ends of each bar makeup bar weights

Gaining strength causes your heart rate to rise, which simultaneously causes fat to be burned. Your body develops strength by managing each muscle's contraction during the first four weeks of strength training with free weights.

What are Weight Machines?

Each machine also comes with instructions, which you should carefully follow. For example, take the time to adjust the seat, handles, and any other components before adding weight. A light set or two to fine-tune the settings is also a good idea because it can help to warm up the muscles you're about to concentrate on.

As long as you utilize equipment that can be adjusted to your body's measurements and permits your joints to move in their normal ranges of motion, machine weights can also be useful weight training equipment. Machine weights are generally secure when applied correctly. They are easy for many people to learn to use as well.

Weightlifting machines' joints and levers can show you how to move through the necessary range of motion. Machines can be particularly useful for isolating just one area if you're injured and can't utilise certain muscles or want to make sure you're only training one single muscle group, like your chest.

Similarities between Free Weights and Weight Machine

  • Both free weights and machine weights can help you increase your strength.

  • Compound motions can be carried out using both weight machines and free weights.

  • Exercises for the single joint can be done with both free weights and weight machines.

  • Isolation workouts can be carried out with both free weights and weight machines.

Difference between Free Weights and Weight Machines

The following table highlights the major differences between Free Weights and Weight Machines −


Free Weights

Weight Machines


Weights that can be moved in any direction freely could be considered a free weight.

Weights that are sturdy, and cannot be moved freely are considered a weight machine.


Free weights are Inexpensive

Weight machines are expensive.


Due to their design they allow movement in any direction.

Due to their fixed and rigid design, they restrict movement and allow it in only single direction


Free weights are versatile.

Weight machines are not versatile.


When utilised properly, free weights are thought to be a safer alternative.

Weight machines can be considered quite risky at times.


Free weight don't hyper focus on building a specific muscle as they are very flexible.

It is possible to grow certain muscles very quickly because weight machines often hyper-focus on one muscle or muscle group.

Your personal preference, degree of physical fitness, fitness objectives, and access to equipment will all influence whether you choose to use free weights or machine weights. Stacking plates on barbells and removing dumbbells from racks can be tedious when using free weights. Weight machines, however, typically contain a weight stack that makes things much simpler - just moving a pin will do the trick if you need to quickly modify the weight you're using.


Both machines and free weights can be a part of your workout regimen. Many people frequently complete a circuit using the weight machines while adding a few free weight exercises to spice things up, burn more calories, or take the place of specific machines that they don't feel comfortable using.

Regardless of the weight training mode you select, both alternatives will help you build strength, burn calories, and sculpt your physique.

There are countless instruments available at gyms that you can utilise to increase your strength. Since there are so many choices, it might be difficult to decide whether to use machines or free weights. In any case, it entirely depends on the individual's preferences and primary objectives. It is usually preferable to consult someone with more expertise on the matter if there are any questions about what to use.