Both of these forms of exercise equipment are extremely beneficial and can help you reach your fitness goals. What are even free weights? Machines? What are the pros and cons of each?
Free weights are classified as...
Using these this type of equipment make your body work against gravity to pick it up and move. Free weights challenge a lot more muscles then just the ones you are "working" because you need to stabilize your body.
Machines are classified as...
-Any type of equipment that you sit in or on while you pull or push a lever through a specific range of motion.
Examples would be leg press, smith machine,leg curl, chest press. These are great machines to start on if youre new to the gym to get a feel of how the movement should go before switching to free standing weights.
Then Cable Machines.. Cables are a mix between the two. Yes they have a fixed point where you can attach a handle to a cable but its also not on a fixed range of motion.
So whats good and bad about each?
-core to stabilize
-working a lot of tiny little muscles you don't realize you're using
-poor form (if inexperienced)
-great for isolation
-limited range of motion
Lets take Squats for example. Most people think when doing squats you're just working your quads and thats all there is to it. When actually so many other muscles are engaged. Your inner and outer thighs are playing a part to keep your legs in place. Also your glutes, hamstrings and your core are helping keep your body steady throughout the movement. Now, if you wanted to only focus directly on your quads doing sets of leg extentions would be the go to.
Even though using free weights gives you the most "bang for your buck" don't rush into things. Having good form should be top priority when working out, because with bad form comes injury then you can be out for months. Thats why machines really come in handy because its a lot harder to jack up your form. These usually have picture instructions on them which will tell you how to do the exercise which can prepare you for free weights! Having your body in the correct position means that you will be properly working the targeted muscle the right way. Have you ever done a bicep curl and your back started hurting? That is most likely caused by your back trying to compensate for the weight. You are leaning back instead of standing straight up and isolating the bicep, also the weight is to heavy. Now if you were to sit down at a curl machine you have no choice but to only pull with your biceps.
In the end free weight prevail only for the reason that you are working multiple muscles at once but its great to always add in machines. What i recommend is adding in machine toward the end of your workouts. That way you can isolate the muscle once its nearly fatigued.
An example Leg day workout could look like
-Barbell Back Squats
-Barbell Hip Thrusts
-Dumbbell Step ups
-Abductor SS Adductor
Working both into your routine will show great benefit! Listen to your body and focus on form!