Free weights and lifting machines can often be found in fitness facilities across the world. Often people ask, which is better to use. There are always many suggestions as to which is better. But, the following information is something that I concluded from what I have learned in school and what I have learned from working with clients:
Free weights allow for more range of motion when completing an exercise. You have the ability to contract and use more muscles fibers which in return allow you to stabilize your muscles. This has been proven to yield maximum results.
Using free weights allow for the most variation with your workouts. You can create the most unique (or simple) workout with the assistance of weights. You can have more fun and take your workouts practically anywhere where you use free weights.
Free weights are also more affordable. You can typically purchase (or even make) your own weights for a reasonable price.
HOWEVER, it is still wise to incorporate lifting machines in your workout. It is always wise to vary your workout between various different movements, machines, and exercises. Free weights exercies can be the most rewarding if incorporated with a well balance workout routine.
These are great for first time gym rats. Most machines display a guide that will direct you on how to use the machine. Some machines also show you which muscle groups you are targeting. Some machines go a step further and can show you various exercises to do with that particular machine.
Allow you to isolate certain muscle groups and target them while lifting. This can also be done with free weights, but it can be more effectively done with a machine.
A downside is that machines can be big, bulky, and expensive! You not only need the space to have the machines you would like, you will also need the money to collect the amount of machines you would like to get a well rounded workout.
With machines, you will also NOT need a spotter if you are lifting heavy weights. Most of them have some sort of safety mechanism that allows you to drop or release the weight if it is too difficult for you to lift.
So I would have to say, go for free weights if you have the chance. It is always wise to spice up your workout and use machines. BUT do not allow machines to be the main thing that you use during your workouts.
Variation is key! And you also want to try to vary your workout to keep it fun and exciting!