Going to the gym, but don’t know what equipment to use? Free weights or selectorized machines, which one is better? Let’s look at the benefits that each bring.
The instability of free weights helps build stabilizing muscles, which is great for improving balance, coordination, and athleticism. Unfortunately, selectorized machines usually have you seated or placed into a fixed position that takes instability out of play. Free weights also lets you follow a natural bar path, meaning you can move the weight in a pattern that comes natural to you, making it great to replicate functional, real-life movement. Therefore, free weights are great for performing a wide variety of exercises. Whether you want to do olympic lifts or deadlifts, free weights are the way to go.
Selectorized machines are also good in their own right. Stability from machines are great for your form to reduce the risk of injury, or when going through rehab. Since most machines provide a fixed movement pattern, the learning curve drops way down, making it perfect for beginners and the elderly. Fixed movement patterns also means you can isolate muscle groups much better. For example, if you want to workout your biceps, try using the bicep curl machine.
Both free weights and machines have advantages that the other doesn’t. They both can do a good job in building muscle and strength, depending on what you’re striving for.