Cable Machines or Free Weights - Unsure What Suits Your Training?

March 20, 2023 4 min read

Cable Machines or Free Weights - Unsure What Suits Your Training?

It is often difficult to determine which pieces of equipment and exercises are best suited for your own fitness goals due to the plentiful range of options available. We, as well as many personal trainers, often get asked a similar question: Which is more beneficial for creating muscle strength and definition, free weights vs cables? Let's examine both to better equip you with the knowledge needed for your next gym session. Firstly lets explore the cable machine pros and cons:-

The Benefits Of Cable Machines

 Cable machines are ideal for functional style workouts and those new to strength training due to their control-oriented movements which promote effective form and technique. Moreover, such machines minimise the risk of injury by minimizing the force of gravity and can be utilised during injury recovery periods.

 You can also be fantastic for isolating the muscle you want to work on. For those trying to target a specific area of their body to tone and build muscles, cable machines are excellent for isolating and targeting a particular muscle. A good example of exercises that can be performed on a cable machine is tricep pushdowns or bicep curls. 
You can also perform many types of exercise on a cable machine especially  the Inspire Fitness FT2 package, meaning the possibilities are endless.

 The Disadvantages of a Cable Machine

Cable machines provide a great way to isolate muscles. Conversely, ignoring/underworking other muscles is a possible side-effect. As opposed to other equipment, cable machines don't offer the most well-rounded workout. Thus, careful planning and preparation are essential for hitting all muscle groups.


Pros Of Cable Machines
Cons Of Cable Machines
Great for form and technique
Does not offer a well-rounded workout
Great for injury prevention  & Rehab
Requires a workout plan for an effective and well-rounded workout 
Optimal muscle isolation 
Selectorised machines are better for beginners 
Ability to perform a  large range of exercises 
Better for beginners than free-weights 



 What constitutes a "Free Weight"?

Free weights are any type of weight not requiring cables, pulleys, or weight stacks, such as:-


Benefits of "Free Weights"

The free weight's primary benefit is that it replicates natural motions. Unlike utilizing a weighted machine, the free weight does not constrain movement. Users often report a machine's motion to be "uncomfortable" or "forced", as it hinders rotation. For example, when doing shoulder presses, the free weight allows for greater comfort and naturalness. Additionally, using a free weight strengthens other muscles in the body, such as the core, when stabilising yourself.

 Free weights offer a cost-effective advantage over weight machines, in addition to low upkeep costs. With a barbell, plates, and potentially a few dumbbells, a thorough workout can be achieved.

The Disadvantages of Free Weights

 Slow, controlled movement and form are essential when using free weights; improper technique can result in injury, particularly when lifting overhead. Swinging, rather than lifting, the weight may provide the sensation of exercise, but little benefit; heavier loads should preferably be handled with the help of a training partner or spotter.

If you are unsure of the proper technique, then it is always best to get advice from an experienced individual, such as a personal trainer. 

Pros Of Free Weights 

Cons Of Free Weights 

Mimics Your Natural Movement 

Increased chance of injury 

You use multiple muscles while stabilising yourself 

Proper technique is harder to achieve 

More cost-effective than machines 

Less beginner friendly 


 Some Home Cable Machines to Consider


G7 Spec Sheet

 The G7 Multi Gym from Life Fitness, equipped with an adjustable bench, has earned its place among the top commercial cable machines due to its quality design and classic aesthetic. This machine provides excellent value for money, being able to withstand extended usage and suitable for all users from first-timers to experienced veterans. It is further equipped with adjustable pulleys and a 160 lb weight stack for varied workouts.

NOHRD Slim Beam


Find the perfect space-saving cable machine in the NOHRD SlimBeam Cable Machine, boasting a slim and stylish design and seven available finishes - five wood options, one stainless steel, and one white. 

The NOHRD SlimBeam Cable Machine is versatile, with quick, easy cable length adjustments and a variety of cable attachments to ensure a full-body workout. With the durable construction and adjustable resistance levels, you can challenge yourself for maximum results.

Matching NOHRD free weights and cardio machines offer practicality, creating an ideal home gym setup.

When selecting free weights, which ones are a good starting point?


Jordan classic Rubber dumbbells

Jordan Fitness' classic design rubber dumbbells offer great value and are suitable for commercial and boutique gyms, as well as home users. These dumbbells are perfect for a variety of bodybuilding, CrossFit, and functional training exercises, as well as traditional strength-training moves. In addition, they are renowned in the industry for leaving no damage to gym benches and flooring.


Watson Pro Dumbbells


Widely recognised to be world-class, these Watson Pro Dumbbells are made from superior British  stainless steel with a customized knurling pattern and include a choice of rotating thick grip or standard 35mm handles with the ability for custom end plates. Their aesthetic appeal and usability make them a remarkable equipment addition.




Concluding Thoughts

In Conclusion, advantages and disadvantages to both cable machines and free weights can be identified. Ultimately, deciding which to use may depend on individual preference, as well as budgetary and spatial constraints when outfitting a home gym. To gain the benefits associated with each, using both could be a beneficial solution. This variety allows you to maximize the benefits of both, increasing strength and size while providing full-body coordination and balance.

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