I am certain that this question has crossed your mind more than once. One is not necessarily better than the other, but we’re here to give you a breakdown of the differences.
Range of Motion
Our body normally moves in different dimensions—forward, backward, horizontally and vertically—and free-weights allow us to move in those directions. When we move like that with free-weights, stabilizer muscles come into play and make each move more challenging, but beneficial.
Machines tend to move up and down or back and forth, making them much better for isolating one muscle. However, if you are strictly using machines all the time, certain muscles are missed and this could cause injury outside of the gym if not all of your muscles are evenly trained.
Free-weights leave greater room for an injury if you’re not performing something correctly. For example, it’s very easy to think you are squatting correctly, but are your knees over your toes? When you perform bicep curls using free weights, are you using your back because the weight is too heavy? These are both just two common improper form issues, amongst many, many others.
Since all that can be changed on a machine is the weight, they are less likely to cause an injury. If you are newer into weight lifting and you want to start building muscle, it may be smart to wise to begin with machine, helping to ensure proper form.
It’s important to mix in both free-weight and machine exercises into our workout regimen to ensure your hitting a variety of muscles. Most workouts should begin with a compound movement for a particular body-part and free-weights are the preferred choice to do so. Free weights use more muscles; which causes will cause quicker fatigue. Machines are great for accessory work for a particular body part after your compound movements. However, one of the most important factors is to always make sure that you’re not compromising form when there is no support from a machine!