The debate surrounding which weight training method is better – free weights or machines – has been going on for a long time. Much of the answer comes down to personal preference.
Weight machines are often considered a quick and dirty way of improving one’s strength since increasing or decreasing weights is much easier and faster (often moving a pin or dial) and there is less focus on proper form and technique (often resulting in less injury). In most cases, using weight machines requires less skill than free weights.
Free weights can provide additional benefits to your strength training program as they require the use of additional musculature to stabilize the body part(s) being exercised and typically involve a more natural coordination of several muscle groups — meaning they can simulate real life activities better than machines.
Some people find they prefer weight machines while others prefer the benefits provided by free weights. Therefore, depending on your fitness level, goals and needs, either may prove to be a good choice for you and your training program—many people find it beneficial to work with both. If you are unsure of how best to use a piece of equipment, please speak with a fitness professional and before starting any new fitness program, consult with your doctor.