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Weight Training Equipment Choices - How To Decide Between Free Weights And Weight Training Machines

Author: Julie-Ann Amos


Once you have made the decision to invest in weight training equipment for your home gym, the next step is to determine which kind of equipment to buy. Most fitness enthusiasts who want to include a weight training routine as part of their overall fitness efforts will opt for either free weights or a weight training machine.

Free Weights

Free weights include several separate components that you can combine in a number of ways to vary your weight training routine. A complete set of free weights will typically include:

One barbell (sometimes two)

Weight plates and safety collars

Weight bench and rack


With these basic pieces of weight training equipment, you can easily adjust the type, intensity and frequency of exercises performed. Because the components are separate and not attached to each other, many fitness enthusiasts find free weights to be the easiest type of weight training equipment to fit into various sized spaces in their home.

If you are into very heavy lifting, you will want to invest in a power rack. This is a heavy duty rack that adjusts to fit your height, allowing you to squat and put the barbell across your back. Then you simply stand up, do your specific exercise, and return the barbell to the power rack. This is the safest way for you to do heavy lifting with your weight training equipment.

Weight Training Machines

Some fitness enthusiasts opt for a weight training machine that provides several workout stations and options, all attached to a single steel frame. A typical weight training machine will allow you to do the following:

Bench press

Lat pull down

Leg extension

Leg curl

Bicep curl

Low row

The type of weight training resistance will differ from machine to machine. Some use adjustable weight plates while others use flexible rods of various stiffness to modify resistance. There is also some training equipment on the market that uses the weight of your own body combined with gravity to create resistance, but be cautious about selecting this type of home gym. They are not always of the highest quality, and many are limited in terms of the types of exercises they can handle.

Which one is right for you?

Choosing which type of weight training equipment is right for you free weights or a weight training machine will depend on a number of factors. Before making your choice, think about the following:

Space How much space do you have to accommodate the equipment? Remember that you need enough room for the equipment itself, and also enough room to walk around it and safely perform exercises.

Experience If you are a seasoned weight training enthusiast then you can be equally well-served by either type of weight training equipment. If you are a novice, though, make sure that you understand and use proper techniques for whichever type you buy.

Budget Good quality weight training machines typically cost more than good quality free weights, but either type can fall in a range from inexpensive to top of the line. Be especially cautious of machines that are extremely inexpensive, as they are likely make of inferior quality materials.

Julie-Ann Amos is a freelance writer for, your complete guide to the best home fitness and exercise equipment. She has contributed numerous articles on ab machines and weight training equipment.

Copyright 2006