Are you trying to figure out if you should go for a free weight or resistance machine workout, but don’t know how to decide? In this article we will share the pros and cons of both so you can make an informed decision.

The decision should be based on factors like what your exercise goals are, what you enjoy doing, what equipment is available to you and the amount of time you have to exercise per week.

Free weights

The advantage of free weights includes being able to choose the movements that work best for you. The word “free” is applicable since you have the freedom to move the weight around, which enables you to attack specific muscle groups.

Also, they are affordable and you can easily have free weights in your home without them taking up much room. That’s perfect if you don’t enjoy going to the gym.

The drawbacks include the increased learning curve for beginners that have no idea what exercises to perform. Each movement needs to be done correctly with the right posture to get the most benefit from the exercise. Therefore, you’ll see a lot of beginners using machines where movements are self-explanatory in most cases.

Resistance machines

Most resistance machines including Bowflex home gyms are beginner friendly since setup is straightforward and each one has extensive instructions. You can watch a quick YouTube video on how to operate resistance machines when there are questions.

Isolating muscle groups with machines is simpler since it’s hard to mess the movement up. They are designed for specific movements so there is no confusion as to what muscle group you will work out. Lastly, there is no need for a spotter to exercise safely, whereas with free weights you’ll need one when approaching your limits.

The drawbacks of resistance machines include their large size, which is not ideal if you want to buy one for your home. Furthermore, you are restricted to specific movements, so there is no room to attack the muscle group you want.

Also, competition can be fierce for resistance machines in some gyms where they are in short supply. Therefore, you may need to wait, which could hinder the flow of your workout session. They can also break down rendering them useless. Free weights will never break so it’s another concern you can take off your mind.

The Pros and Cons: Free Weights Versus Resistance Machines

Let’s look at the pros and cons of free weights and machines.

Free Weights


  • Greater activation of stabilizer muscles
  • More natural movement
  • Cost-effective
  • Versatile


  • Injury risk
  • Need for spotter
  • Difficulty in targeting specific muscles
  • Potential for muscle imbalances

Resistance Machines


  • Target specific muscles
  • Lower injury risk
  • Ease of use
  • No need for a spotter


  • Limited range of motion
  • Cost and space
  • Not one size fits all
  • Limited functional training