Which do you prefer, if any?
Continue reading to find out the advantages and disadvantages of using both machines, and free weights.
Some machines are more efficient in isolating a muscle or muscle group for overload.
Machines are easier to use, and therefore faster workouts are possible - less time is wasted changing plates and waiting for a spotter (if needed).
Most machines are built to accommodate the average-sized person. Very short (like me) or very tall people, find it challenging to use many of the machines out there - this can potentially lead to a host of overuse injuries such as stress fractures, etc.
Not all machines are alike, but most require the moving of a weight along a predetermined track, making it nearly impossible to derive synergistic or stabilizer muscle strength.
FREE WEIGHT ADVANTAGES
Greater overall strength can be achieved using barbells and dumbbells.
Other aspects of fitness - including size, flexibility, reduced body fat, and muscle "toning" are achieved more efficiently through the use of free weights.
FREE WEIGHT DISADVANTAGES
You often need large spaces to use barbells and dumbbells - it can be hazardous for large groups of unorganized people to use them in a small space.
In certain exercises, it's difficult to derive maximum isolation of a muscle or muscle group.
THE BOTTOM LINE?
Different pieces of equipment are designed for different purposes. Use the machines, free weights, etc. that best meet your objectives! But when it comes down to the science of things, dumbbells and barbells reign supreme in my opinion.