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So you want to build muscle and are trying to decide on the fastest and most efficient way to do it.

Naturally, one of the questions that come up is: should I use free weights, machines, or a combination of both?

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each to see which is superior for building muscle fast.

free weights vs machines for building muscle

First, we’ll start with weightlifting machines.

Weightlifting Machines

Advantages of Weightlifting Machines

1. Weightlifting machines are good for beginners because it is not so intimidating and the range of motion is fixed, so a weightlifting novice doesn’t need to worry whether he is lifting correctly or maintaining proper form.

2. Also, weightlifting machines are easy to use. Most have instructions right on them or a gym professional can quickly show you how to use it.

3. Weightlifting machines can be safer than free weights as you generally can’t drop a weight or need a spotter to oversee your set.

4. Finally, you’re able to isolate muscles so that you can focus on a specific muscle if you’re suffering from another muscle injury which you shouldn’t be working out.

Disadvantages of Weightlifting Machines

1. On the contrary, weightlifting machines can also increase injury risks since the range of motion is fixed and repeated workout will place tremendous stress on the same joints, tendons, and muscles because you are lifting on a fixed pathway.

2. Because of its isolation of muscles, your workout hits only the targeted muscles with little involvement of supporting or synergistic muscles;  thus your muscle gains will be slower and less balanced.

3. Since weight lifting machines have fixed configuration, your workout does not factor in your body frame and structure. Whether you have a big or small build, narrow or wide shoulders, you will be using the same pathway range of motion and width of grip. This will raise your chances of being injured as well as result in poorer muscle development.

Now that we’ve looked at the pros and cons of weightlifting machines, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of free weights.

Free Weights

Advantages of Free Weights

1. Free weights recruit stabilizing muscles and more synergistic muscles are involved. So you are actually exercising more muscles and therefore will develop more muscle growth and strength.

2. Free weights will Improve your balance and muscle coordination since you need to balance the weights during your lift and this will work on multiple muscles, unlike machines which only isolate one muscle. This will improve muscle coordination and your balance will naturally improve.

3. Free weights are more convenient and inexpensive since you don’t need to join a gym and free weights are much less expensive than machines (if you’re looking to workout at home).

Disadvantages of Free Weights

1. There can be an increased risk of injury if you lift with the wrong form and technique.

2. Can be more time consuming because you need to bring the weights from one area to another or physically taking time to adjust, add, or decrease weights (note: can you tell that I’m really stretching here to find “disadvantages” to free weights?)

So which is better for building bigger and well-balanced muscles?

Hopefully, the answer is obvious, hand down the winner is free weights all the way when it comes to burning fat and building muscle.

As a matter of fact, using free weights and compound exercises is my number one tip to building muscle fast.

I don’t mind you using machines to finish off a muscle group at the end of your workout routine, but your primary focus should be using free weights as they are the superior option to gain muscle in the gym (or at home).


Chris Cannon
Chris Cannon

Hey Chris Cannon here, founder of Free Muscle Building Tips. I hope you enjoyed this post. If you haven't done so already be sure to subscribe to our newsletter and get your free Six Pack Abs Secret Weapon Workout!