Are machines or free weights better for weight loss?

Remember, losing weight is a matter of creating an imbalance between the number of calories taken in and the number of calories burned. Practicing healthful eating habits and exercising regularly are cornerstones of healthy weight loss.
Exercise, including resistance training is not effective as a stand alone weight loss treatment. When it comes to choosing resistance equipment, experts suggest going for the type you enjoy and will continue to use. You may like certain free-weight exercises over their machine counterparts or vice versa. Use a combination of both. This creates variety and can help stave off boredom.

Be sure to perform resistance training regularly, no matter which type you choose to do. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that you lift weights at least two times per week. Work all major muscle groups from largest to smallest (hips, legs, back, chest, shoulders, arms, abs). Perform at least one set of 8 to 12 repetitions. Always be sure to use proper form and ask for assistance when necessary.

Weight Watchers offers a comprehensive approach to weight loss that can help you reach your goals. Learn more about Weight Watchers and how to join.

As the NASM and Penny mentioned, both Free weights and machines can be used to increase lean mass or muscle which results in a greater amount of energy expended by your body overall. Definitely a plus if you're trying to lose weight (fat). 

However, I feel that using Free Weights or even your own body weight as resistance can be more beneficial than using weight machines and here's why. 

  • Weight machines challenge the muscles usually in just one plane of movement and are usually fixed in nature to isolate specific muscle groups. However, resistance training with free weights and body weight is usually more integrated and not only causes a direct training effect for the muscle groups involved in the specific exercise, but also the stabilizer muscles. Those extra muscles not only use more energy, but they also build balance and core strength. These are all pluses for weight loss, overall health, injury prevention and carry over to make your activities of daily life easier.
  • It's also easier to increase the intensity of your workouts if you use free or body weight exercises. Increased intensity also equals more energy burned. Another big positive if fat loss is your goal.
  • You don't need to belong to a fancy expensive gym to use body weight or free weight exercises in your resistance training workouts. This can save you time and money!
If we are talking about weight lifting machines vs free weights, I would say which ever you enjoy most! Try both or mix it up. Main thing is have fun as you work those muscles to build your better whole body...mind, heart and soul included =)
Any sort of weight training is good for the body. Muscle not only helps you move better, but it also helps to increase the amount of calories you burn. In order to lose weight you must burn more calories than you consume. The type of weight training you perform can help to maximize calorie burn and get results more quickly. Machine weights are a great way to overload the muscle and provide the stimulus muscles need to be more efficient. However, machines are very stable and provide a guided range of motion which will require only one plane of motion. As mentioned, this can be good for muscles, but it does not require the rest of the body to provide stabilization. Fixed-motion weight machines can reduce the potential number of calories that can be burned during a resistance training session. Free weights and performing exercises in a standing position will help to maximize the amount of calories being burned. This happens because the muscles have to work harder to stabilize the rest of the body. Another important consideration is the speed at which the repetitions are being performed. A repetition is one complete movement of an exercise. The slower the repetition, the longer the muscles will have to work and the more calories which will be burned during the exercise. The last point to consider is the amount of rest taken between exercise sets. If a long rest period is taken, allowing full recuperation, the amount of calories being burned is reduced. In summary, when designing a weight training program for weight loss, it is recommended to perform the exercises in a standing position (if possible) or using free weights, with slow repetitions and minimal rest period.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.