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Strength Training: Free Weights or Circuit Machine?

The circuit machine may be the best place for a beginner to start when planning a strength training regimen. However, if you have been working out with machines for some time and you are not seeing the results you want, then free weights can help.

Building strength and muscle is what you want from strength training, but the tools you use depend on several factors. Let's look at them:


The weight room can be an intimidating place for beginners. There are a variety of machines and a bunch of barbells and dumbbells. The circuit machines offer ready-made workout routines. There will most likely be a description of the machine, how it works and what part of the body it works out. For the person who is just starting out, these machines can be of great value. They can demonstrate and help maintain proper form. They can make a workout easier by their user-friendly capabilities.

But if your experience level is more advanced then you may already know the benefits of free weights. These weights are the dumbbells and barbells. It is a fact that free weights work the muscles differently than circuit machines. Using a barbell or dumbbell will require proper form and will also bring into play other muscle groups. The circuit machines are more isolating and free weights require knowledge and strength.

Injury Rehabilitation

If you are coming off of an injury, then the circuit machines are essential because of their lower impact on the body. It can be difficult to come back from a serious injury, and strength training is required if you want to get back to top form. The circuit machines offer the best and safest way to do this. The machines allow the user to set the weight she wants and to safely let go if needed. With a dumbbell or barbell you may need a spotter, but with a machine you can go at your own pace and intensity.

Body Type

Strength training can build lean muscle and develop a healthy cardiovascular system. But it can also build muscle bulk. If you are looking for a leaner body and toned muscles, then circuit machines can work best. Circuits provide the isolation needed to concentrate on specific muscle groups. This will help you key in what you want to build. Circuits are there for those who aim for lean, athletic bodies.

If the goal is to build bulk and mass, then free weights can help you to get the body type you want. Because you have to maintain your own form while using free weights, the act of lifting takes more energy and intensity then a circuit machine might require. This can lead to more caloric intake so you can compensate for the intense free weight workout. The more free weight strength training you do, the more the muscles will grow in size.

In the End

An all encompassing strength training workout should involve both circuits and free weights. Because both have their own advantages it is good to gain from both.

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