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At the Gym: When to Use Machines vs. Free Weights

Walk into any commercial gym and you will find a combination of free weights and machines. For first time lifters or even experienced gym-goers, the choice between lifting with free weights or machines can be a confusing debate. There is a lot of different information regarding the subject, which only adds to the confusion.

The reality is that this is not a black and white debate and there is a pretty significant list of pros and cons for both types of training. Before we get into anything else, let’s look at machine use.

Getting a feel for the movement

Athlete taking his time with bench press

Athlete taking his time with bench press Machines may be a safer way to attempt new exercises. | iStock.com

If you are a beginner in the weight room, machines might be the best and safest way to build muscle while also learning the basic motions of lifting. Allowing yourself to do bodyweight routines to build muscle and incorporating machines to get extra resistance is a great way for beginners to build a base before trying out the free weights.

Even though machines seem super basic, remember that starting light is key, and it also may benefit you to ask someone who works at your gym for help or advice as to what machines are best for your particular goals.

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