Last Updated on May 21, 2023 by Michael Brockbank
Now that I’ve been going back to the gym on a regular basis, I almost forgot how much I love weight machines. You can actually get a decent workout without using free weights as long as you push yourself. So, why do I love them so much?
Well, there are a few reasons, really. But at the end of the day, I just prefer machines over free weights. Everyone is different.
6 Reasons Beginners Should Start with Weight Machines
Aside from just preferring machines, let’s go over a few practical reasons why they are ideal for beginners.
1. Easier for Proper Form
When you’re using free weights, and even some machines, improper form can lead to injury. In fact, I’ve tweaked my shoulder and elbows a couple of times by not using proper techniques.
I guess it’s how you learn, though.
Still, weight machines often have that in mind in their construction. You have less of a chance of hurting yourself by not holding weights at a certain angle or moving your body in an improper position.
2. No Need for a Spotter
Most machines I’ve used are tailored to be a one-person show. This means you don’t need a spotter to grab the weight in case you press more than you can handle.
Though, I’m not one to ego lift and fully know my limitations when it comes to weight and reps. It seems a lot of people don’t really know their capabilities.
Anyway, one of the nice things about machines is that you can be the only person in the gym and not worry about getting trapped under too much weight.
Again, though, that depends on the type of machine you’re using.
3. Easy to Isolate Specific Muscle Groups
In many instances, it’s easier to focus attention on specific muscles and groups when working out with machines.
Take the AB Crunch Machine, for example. It’s one of my favorite devices because it focuses the work specifically on the abs. Since this is one of my current trouble areas, it’s often the first machine I hit when going to the gym.
In other words, if my arms are sore as hell from curling too much, I can easily jump on the ab machine.
4. Simple to Increase or Decrease the Load
One of the biggest conveniences of using weight machines is the ability to adjust the weight on the fly. If you start and realize your reps are too easy or too hard, you can just reach over and choose a better amount of weight to use.
Since some machines have 0, 5, and 10-pound increment adjustments in addition to the overall weight, you have quite a bit of control over exactly how much you can handle.
Never underestimate how just five extra pounds of weight can amplify the workout in a set of 20 reps.
5. Safe for Beginners
This goes along with not needing a spotter. But, for the most part, weight machines are safer for beginners than free weights. As I mentioned above, improper posture and sporadic movements can lead to a myriad of problems.
These kinds of devices can get you used to specific movements and weights before trying other exercises. You won’t have to worry about balance issues or stumbling over yourself if you ramp the weight up too high.
Not only that, but machines can also help you find a baseline of what you can actually handle without injuring yourself or others. And understanding what you can handle can help you create future strategies for your specific workout routine.
Case in point, I know I can handle 20-pound dumbbells including the number of reps thanks to finding my limits on the Bicep Curl Machine.
6. Takes More Effort to Work Up a Sweat
Because you are seated when using most weight machines, you’re not exhausting as much energy standing or keeping yourself balanced. This means that it can take a bit more effort to actually work up a sweat.
But that is one of the things I like most. I’m not trying to bust out as much weight or as many reps as I can in a day. I’m all about the workout, sweat, and calorie burn.
Once you get into a good routine of constant improvement, though, you’ll find it much easier to push yourself to work up a decent sweat.
What About Free Weights?
For the most part, there’s really nothing inherently wrong with free weights. In many ways, they can provide a better workout, especially since the rest of your body has to make adjustments with every rep.
For instance, certain workouts with dumbbells will activate core muscle groups to keep you from toppling over. There is a lot more that can be done with free weights from an exercise perspective.
So, I’m not totally against free weights in general. In fact, I have a pair of 20lb dumbbells I use at home.
When it comes to going to the gym, I guess part of my issue is more mental. I feel self-conscious about picking up weights and busting out a few reps in front of others.
I know…it’s a weird problem to have.
But if you’re keen on using free weights over weight machines, then go for it. I’m not saying there is anything wrong or that one form of workout is better than the other.
It all comes down to personal preference and what gives you the most of what you want to get. For me, it’s definitely the Ab Crunch Machine.
When Should You Go From Weight Machines to Free Weights?
In reality, you can pick up free weights as a beginner. There’s no right or wrong way to transition from machines to something like dumbbells or even the Smith Machine.
As I said before, it all comes down to what you want and what is going to be better for your goals.
Personally, I think using the weight machines is great for a beginner to at least test the waters of lifting. You’ll find your limits a lot faster and know what you can handle when picking up the actual weights themselves.
As for a definitive time frame, I’d say whenever you feel confident you can do free weights without hurting yourself.
Now, I’m not saying that free weights are dangerous. But, it is a lot easier to hurt yourself when compared to weight machines. Take it slow and don’t be pressured by those around you.
Going to the gym is all about self-improvement, not competing with people who’ve been going for the past five years.
Check your ego at the door.
The Best Workout Is Whatever Works Best for You!
When it comes to a workout, everyone has their preferred method. Just because something works for one person doesn’t mean it’s the best method for you.
Find something you enjoy doing that elevates your heart rate and keeps you engaged. Because the moment you start thinking something is boring, you’re more likely to give up.
For me, it’s all about self-improvement and breaking person records while using weight machines. And I have a lot of fun doing so. Then again, I’m a data dork with a spreadsheet.