Can I use weight machines?

The debate on whether or not weight machines should be used as part of a well-rounded strength training program has raged on for decades. In one corner, you have those who rely on bodyweight and free-weight training for functional exercise. In the other corner, you have those who rely on machines to build strength and reduce the risk of injury while training.

So who’s right?

I’ll be honest, the answer lies somewhere in the middle. It also ultimately depends on your own preferences, goals, and experience level.

For many of you reading this I’m going to assume you’ve likely done some sort of functional training. Maybe you’re just beginning or have been training for a while. You’ve done things like squats, lunges, push ups, free-weights, and core exercises at varying skill levels.

I mean, it’s what seems to be the most popular form of strength training right now (and for the past decade or so). These activities are touted to help you live life better and provide you greater functional capabilites. It makes sense.

But a common question I get asked from those who do some of their fitness-ing at commercial gyms is, “Is it okay to use machines if….?

Before I fully answer that question, let me get it started with this one thought.

The best fitness activity is one you actually enjoy AND one you will actually do.

If you’re consistenly doing your thing, let the haters hate. Beyond that, let me share some other reasons you could incorporate strength machines into your fitness journey.

  1. You’re not confident with free-weights. Whether you’re a fitness newb or just haven’t had enough experience with free weights to feel confident on your own, machines are a great option. They require little technical skill and most gyms will even provide a bit of instruction for free dollars.

  2. That’s all you have access to. Only have access to a hotel or building gym that has minimal equipment or just a few machines? No problem! You can still get a great strength training workout and even incorporate a few bodyweight and core exercises if you like.

  3. You’re recovering from an injury. Another common reason to incorporate machines is you’re recovering from an injury. You might have limited, non-painful range of motion or have extremely diminished strength. Machines are a great way to safely build strength back.

  4. You’re not strong enough for bodyweight exercises just yet. I get it. The best way to learn to do push ups is to do push ups. I will say, however, that sometimes just building pushing strength with machines like the pec deck may expedite the process and get you nailing push ups sooner. Just saying.

  5. You want to build strenght and size. Want to get strong AF and put on some size quickly and efficiently? Machines are a great way to overload and tax working muscles in a safer way than free weights for most humans.

  6. You want some more variety in your training. Want to make your stale routine a bit more spicy? Throw in a machine press instead of pushups one day or, heck, just do a full body circuit of machines one day. You’ll leave feeling #SpicyAF

  7. You just feel like it dammit. Aaaand back to my initial point, the best fitness activity is one you enjoy and will actually do. Whether you only will use free weights for strenght or just want to sprinkle them in every once in a while to keep it fresh, follow your heart. I beleive in you.

Whether you have someone in your life who has poo-pood training with machines or assured you (insert mode of training) is far superior, perfect is still the enemy of good enough.

While we have a specific set of beliefs and training style we adhere to at First Guess Fitness, we don’t believe there is anything inherently wrong with incorporating machines into your fitness endeavors. They might even prevent you from plateauing and keep it spicy enough to help you get your fitness on when training abroad.

And if you’re a human who isn’t quite sure what to do in the gym and/or the limiting factor for you training with free weights is confidence or knowledge, we can help. From effective programming to keeping you injury-free to making training fun, our trainers job is to help you fall in love with fitness …or maybe just have fun while you workout.

After all, fun is what helps the medicine go down.

Whether you just want epic fitness results, want to learn more about functional training, OR just need all the accountability and support to kick fitness butt…

We can help you spice it up.

And even if you decide to date us for some training, we won’t get offended if you’re still in a relationship with the machines at your gym. We support that and will be honored to help with the other stuff.

Not a machine (or am I?),


P.S. Still not ready to go back to a gym or can’t make it to AMP in person? Check out our LIVE virtual classes with a no-commitement 14-day challenge HERE.