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Is there a difference between fixed weights and free weights?

Unless you’re in one of those god-awful hotel gyms, most gyms have a mixture of fixed weights and free weights.

You see these little fitness trends. Machines used to be the go-to for people wishing to build muscle. Then free weights were advocated as most beneficial. So which is it?

As most of my other vlogs have highlighted: it depends on the individual. Depends on their goals, preference, access and so many more variables. Lets look at the pros and cons of each and I’ll let you decide:

Fixed weights


- Easy to use. Picture on the machine explaining how they’re used and can only move in the way that they are supposed to be worked.

- Stabilise the joint for you. They isolate the muscles you wish to work allowing you to go heavier and in turn increase muscle growth. This can also be good for rehab. As they isolate muscle groups they allow you to focus on the muscles you want to work whilst taking away the stress of existing injury.

- You can go heavy without a spotter. Don’t need to stress about dropping that barbell on your face. Especially important if you like the way your teeth look.


- They get so busy during peak times.

- Don’t work the stabilising muscles that you get from using barbells or dumbbells.

- Less variety – can get repetitive and boring.

- Working in one movement pattern so not very ‘functional’. We all have different length levers so assuming one machine is suited for every person is just unrealistic. Some machines don’t feel comfortable for me to use so I avoid them.

Free Weights


- Can get more experimental as not restricted to one plane of movement. The human body doesn’t work in one plane, so why should we exercise like that.

- In my experience, far more enjoyable as many more exercise options.

- During peak time there is ALWAYS something you can do, even if the gym is Sergio Ramos.

- Put more strain on stabilising muscles.


- Greater skill set is needed as there is so many teaching points for each lift.

- This then means that there is a higher chance of injury.

- Spotter is beneficial. Training partner is needed to get started if you want to start lifting heavy.

There you have it. I prefer using free weights mainly due to enjoyment. I will throw in the odd fixed weight machine to keep things varied. Pick what you enjoy and go for it!

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