Artist: PeopleImages

Machine Training vs. Free Weight Training

by John Harris Fitness

One of the most frequently asked questions in the fitness realm is: Which is better, machine training or free weight training? This question divides opinions among personal trainers, fitness experts, and trainees. However, there is no straightforward and universally applicable answer.

Advantages of Machine Training

Learning Movement Patterns and Exercise Execution

Especially for newcomers to the gym, the machines tend to be the initial attraction. They come with instructions and preset movement patterns. This can be advantageous, particularly in the beginning, as it allows you to focus on specific exercises without juggling too many variables. Beginners can benefit from machines to learn exercise techniques and concentrate on proper execution. The consistent movement patterns offered by machines help coordinate your muscles and nervous system. This experience can facilitate the transition to training with dumbbells and barbells.

Isolation of Specific Muscles

Unlike free weight training, machine training allows you to isolate individual muscles. This can be useful for targeting specific muscle groups. For instance, if you're unable to perform pull-ups, you can strengthen your back using the lat pulldown machine. However, the lat pulldown machine falls somewhere between free weight and machine training, as it involves a more complex movement.

Injury Rehabilitation

Machine training can be particularly effective during injury recovery. It enables you to train around the injured area, gradually reintroducing stress to the affected region as it becomes more resilient.


Free Weight Training

Functional and Complex

The major advantage of free weight training lies in its more intricate intermuscular execution. Since you constantly have to stabilize the weight, multiple muscles are engaged simultaneously. Core muscles receive significant activation during compound exercises, more so than when using machines. This contributes to improved abdominal and back muscles, enhancing posture. Engaging various muscle groups simultaneously also results in higher calorie expenditure.

Tendon and Ligament Strengthening

The interplay of muscles in free weight training not only stimulates muscle growth but also benefits tendons and ligaments. These supporting structures are fortified, reducing the risk of injury. Weak tendons and ligaments are often linked to tension and stiffness, which can be improved and prevented through consistent training.

Artist: Hirurg

Real-life Improvements

Compound exercises such as deadlifts or squats mimic everyday movements. Over time, individuals develop incorrect movement patterns. The deadlift movement pattern can be applied when lifting or carrying heavy objects in daily life. Additionally, deadlifting enhances the stability of spinal discs and the lower back, preventing injuries in everyday scenarios.


As you can see, both approaches have their merits. Both machine and free weight training can contribute to muscle growth up to a certain point. However, if you want to promote overall well-being, including strengthening tendons and ligaments, incorporating compound exercises is essential. Without fundamental exercises like bench press or squats, significant gains in strength and muscle mass are unlikely in the long run. Don't worry, though; you won't end up looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Proper execution is crucial in free weight training to prevent injuries. It's advisable to seek guidance from a trainer to ensure correct technique.


Filter locations:

Nibelungengasse 5 | 1010 Wien


Strobachgasse 7-9 | 1050 Wien


Donau-City-Straße 7 | 1220 Wien

DC Tower

Wiedner Gürtel 9 | 1100 Wien


Marxergasse 17 | 1030 Wien


Untere Donaustraße 21 | 1020 Wien


Opernring 13-15 | 1010 Wien

Executive Club

Getreidemarkt 8 | 1010 Wien

Medical Center

Untere Donaulände 21-25 | 4020 Linz

Donaupark Linz

Mozartstraße 7-11 | 4020 Linz

Atrium Linz

Girardigasse 1c | 8010 Graz

Thalia Graz