Machine Assisted Weights VS Free Weights

Many of us know that a strength-based workout is essential for anyone wanting to build the physique of their dreams. But what’s the best way to complete these workouts? Walk into any good gym and there will be a combination of both free weights and machines to choose from. But is there a difference between the two? And if so which is best?

We wanted to look further into the debate and find out which, if any, will help us reach our fitness goals quicker. So, we have enlisted the help of fitness and wellbeing coach George Pearce, to shed some light on the argument.


Most gyms should have a wide variety of different machine-based weights, which can be great for beginners. Machines like; leg presses, seated rows, lat pull downs – a good gyms have machine weights that cater for every major muscle group, allowing you to do a full workout using just the machines. The average gym induction will also teach you how to use these machines properly and their normally fairly intuitive so they’re great for beginners who may not have mastered the correct form for using free weights. It’s then a question of using these machines consistently and gradually increasing the volume of resistance and reps over time to see the best results.


Free weights can unquestionably be a great addition for making your workout count. Incorporating these into your workout enables you to make exercises such as bodyweight squats or lunges significantly tougher, so they’re great for adding resistance to workouts.

Where they’re not so valuable is if you haven’t yet mastered the basic exercises. Without knowledge of how exercises are carried out correctly, you risk reinforcing poor movement patterns or worse, sustaining injury. It’s vital that if you’re not 100% on an exercise that you work with a trainer to ensure that your form is helping you work towards – rather than against – your goals.

Where does this leave us in the free weight vs machine debate? Well, I would argue that variety is key. Ask yourself: what are you training for? It sounds simple but the answer is often multi-faceted. Perhaps there’s a 10k race or a tough mudder event coming up. Your training programme should reflect this diversity, which means there’s a time and a place for both machine and free weights. A smart gym programme will take advantage of both sources in pursuit of a strong, mobile body.

As a fitness and wellbeing coach, whether it’s physical or mental benefits, I always witness the best results in individuals who manage to develop a rapport with exercise. The key to all success is consistency and the only way to achieve this is to find a physical form of exercise that you can tolerate – regularly! So, whether that’s machine weights or free weights, find something you love and get to work!

Looking for some training tips and advice? Then head over to our Training category where our athletes and experts explain everything you need to know.


Welcome to the SportsShoes Training Hub! We’ve teamed up with athletes and experts to bring you the very best advice on how to maximise your workouts and achieve your best results.

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