This article may be viewed at I apologize for any inconvenience.
I thought I’d try something a little different in this month’s newsletter. Howzabout a little Q&A? Cool? K, here goes…

Question: Which is better, free weights or machines?

Answer: This is a really good question, to which I have a really good answer. My short answer is: Why choose between the two when you can have both? I really do believe that a mix is the best of both worlds. Just alternate them out and it's a win-win situation.

But, you knew I couldn't just stop at the short answer, now didn't you? Hence, therefore, and thusly, I digress. I will try to keep this short, but you may want to grab a snack (a healthy one of course) just to be safe.

Here goes: Both forms of strength training have their pros and cons, so I will quickly touch on them here. Machines are great for novices, seniors, and recreational athletes because they provide a controlled motion and they can specifically isolate certain muscle groups.

For this same reason though, they also provide even the seasoned lifter with the option of going heavy without the need for a spotter. Free weights, on the other hand, require more balance and coordination and recruit more muscle groups than machines do, and research has shown that they promote quicker strength gains.

Since free weights do require balance, they tend to induce the joint stabilizer muscles as well as the actual muscles used to perform the chosen exercise throughout its full range of motion, whereas a machine may restrict the range of motion and tends to isolate muscle groups more than many free weight exercises. Therefore, both modes have their place in a well-thought out routine.

Of note: Free weights can require a spotter and may result in injury if you are not careful, so a PERSONAL TRAINER truly is a great investment if you want to take full advantage of your workout playground and learn proper and safe technique with free weights. Come on, you didn't expect me to get through this whole newsletter without tooting the personal trainer horn just a little, did you?

Now, there are several ways one can alternate these fine exercise options, thereby truly getting the best of both worlds. Let's use the chest press for example:
  • One workout you may do a free weight (dumbbell) chest press as shown below

    and then the next workout you could do a machine chest press as shown below.

    For more demonstrations of exercises click on either of these two pics.

  • Or that same workout if you do a free weight chest press you may want to follow that with a machine chest fly (also known as Pec Fly Machine or Pec Deck).
  • Another option would be to do a machine chest press and follow that with a free weight fly (also known as DB (dumbbell) Fly). Get the picture?

    Free weights may be more practical for home workouts, but even then you may want to try a mix of bands, free weights, Swiss ball, etc. If you have a piece of equipment such as a Total Gym (excellent choice in my opinion) you would still do well to incorporate some free weight work into your workout, along with any of the other accessories I just mentioned.

    There are so many options out there that you really can get a good workout at home these days too. However, the plethora of choices a gym has to offer is the best way to ensure variety and an optimal workout.

    Plus, at the gym you have the added benefit of being with others of like mind and broadening your horizons with the likes of all us folks who just can't seem to get enough of the sound of clanking dumbbells and buzzing treadmills whilst swapping new ways of doing old exercises in the latest attempt to tweak our bodies into optimal health, or at the very least to try and lift our sagging butts and bellys and defy gravity just one more day.

    Let's face it: There is no magic pill, but the closest thing to the fountain of youth you will ever find truly is EXERCISE AND FITNESS.

    So, there you have it!! Now let's hit the gym and grab a dumbbell (and I'm not talking about your partner) and work that body! Happy lifting!!

    If you enjoyed this newsletter, please feel free to pay it forward to anyone you think would like it too. That is the best compliment you could ever pay me, and I appreciate it very, very much.

    And don't forget to tell everybody about where they can get all the free fitness info their heart desires and sign up for this newsletter while they are there.

    From my heart to your health,

    Linda Burke, CPT

  • Buy The Now What? Fitness Series Books Here!

    Please go to or Smashwords to purchase any version your little ole' heart desires.

    healthy body giveaway

    To Get a Free Copy of The Gym Equipment Handbook
    and Much, Much More...Simply Click on the "Click Here" Button Above or Click on My Book Below and Enjoy All the Free Gifts on That Page That You Want!

    Sign Up Below For Your Free Monthly Newsletter, The Straightforward Fitness Flash!

    Enter your E-mail Address

    Enter your First Name (optional)


    Don't worry -- your e-mail address is totally secure.
    I promise to use it only to send you Straightforward Fitness Flash.