Machines or Free Weights What is Better

Machines or free weights what is better for women?

This is a common question many women ask, most modern gyms offer a variety of machines that can help you tone muscle and gain strength. In this article, I will discuss the difference between free weights and machines.

Machines or free weights what is better for women

Ask any female bodybuilder or fitness model what training methods work better and 99% of them will tell you free weights are better, but a lot depends on what you are trying to accomplish.

Machines make exercising easier

Exercise machines are more convenient to use, in most situations, you do not have to load or unload heavy plates. Machines require little effort to use, however, they do create resistance which is important for toning muscle and gaining strength.

Machines do not stimulate as many muscle fibers

Regardless of the machine, most of them have a limited range of motion, they do move seamlessly up and down or side to side, this makes movements easy and uniform, the downside to this is that it limits muscle fiber stimulation.

Free weights help stimulate more muscle fibers

With free weights, there is no faking it, if used correctly with proper form, free weights can help stimulate more muscle fibers, there is no way around this because your body is doing all the work.

Free weights require more effort

There is no doubt free weights require more effort, for example squatting with a Smyth machine versus squatting with a barbell is a very different experience. Using a Smyth machine requires no balance, deadlifting with a barbell not only requires strength it also requires balance which helps stimulate muscle growth, improve flexibility, and coordination.

Putting things in perspective

I personally believe free weights work the best. I find them more effective for increasing muscle, strength and burning fat, however, some of the best training routines can implement both machines and free weights.

Machines should be used to complement a workout or add the finishing touch at the end of a free weight training session. If you want to improve muscle tone and definition you should train until you have reached total muscle failure, this is what causes new muscle tissue to grow.

Let's take a look at a basic triceps training routine using both free weights and finishing off with a cable pulley machine. The workout would consist of the following:

    • 4 sets 10-12 reps dumbells kickbacks
    • 4 sets 10-12 reps dumbells skull crushers
    • 4 sets dumbells triceps extensions
    • Finish up with cable pulley pushdowns 8-12 reps (machine)

Performing the routine above will train your triceps to failure, as a finishing exercise doing triceps pushdowns will hit other muscle fibers creating total muscle failure. You can apply this principle when training most muscle groups.

How to do triceps dumbells extensions

How to do cable pulley pushdowns

Which are more prone to cause injury, free weights or machines?

One of the most important things you can do when training with either free weights or machines is to focus on proper form. Most modern machines use exact movements which make it hard to injure yourself. I am not saying it is impossible, but you are less likely to get injured if you use moderate weight and warm up properly.

Most injuries come from using free weights. One of the biggest causes of injury with free weight is trying to lift more weight than you can handle. I can't emphasize enough on how important proper form is. Using moderate weight with good form will decrease the chances of you getting hurt.


For most women free weights are the best way to increase muscle and strength, combining machines with free weights will give you the best of both worlds. If you are just looking to maintain toned muscle, machines are probably your best option.