Connect with us

Thai Life

Excuse Buster: Man versus machine

Legacy Phuket Gazette



PHUKET: Walk into any gym and you’ll find a mix of machine weights and free weights. Less than five years ago, the fitness industry was loving machine weights, boasting how good they were for building size and strength. This has its truths, but after a while people have started to realize the lack of movement and mobility they had with machine weights, and even a decrease in their sports performance.

So, which is better? Straight off the bat, I would recommend free weights, but depending on your goals and abilities, machine weights do have a role. Let’s check out the advantages and disadvantages of both.


Most machines are pretty self-explanatory. They’re easy to use and relatively safe with multiple safeguards in case you get too carried away. In short, they allow you to attempt heavy weights without the need of a spotter. They also have a lower risk of injury. I see them used properly most often by bodybuilders who like to isolate muscles, and those who want to improve specific weaknesses in their physiques.


The disadvantages would be that they are non-functional. Our primal movement patterns (push, pull, squat, twist) are the movements we use every day, and are bio-mechanically natural for us.
The Smith machine, for example, locks you into place, which does not allow you to do a natural squat, but certainly allows you to slap on a lot of weight.

In my opinion, this is a recipe for disaster, not to mention the resulting neglect on many smaller muscles. Since most machines lock you in position, the muscles that are meant to stabilize you become disengaged. Your primary movers will get a workout, but smaller muscles will become weak.


Free weights allow functional movement patterns in a full range of motion and activate stabilization muscles, keeping your joints healthy and fully operational. This, of course, reaps great benefits for everyday movement and activities, such as playing football with your kids or carrying the shopping. Mobilization is also one of the most important things for athletes who want to achieve optimal performance.


Free weights take a bit of practice to learn the proper technique. You’d be surprised how many bad habits I see in the gym because people have never learned the right way. Bad habits can lead to injuries.

Start lifting a free weight with a joint out of alignment and you can expect to tweak something, especially if you’re going heavy.

Make no mistake about it; if you’re going heavy you will almost certainly need someone to spot you, as there are no safeguards against gravity.

So, which one should you use? My vote is for free weights. Unless you’re a body builder with a specific goal, or someone going through rehab, I would avoid machine weights. If you’re a beginner, I would stick with super-light free weights or hire a trainer to show you the proper form so that you don’t slip into any bad habits.

Krix Luther is a fully qualified personal trainer with nearly a decade of experience specializing in strength and conditioning. For more information about Krix and his services, visit

— Krix Luther


Want more from the Thaiger family?

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS for instant updates on your mobile
📧 Subscribe to our daily email newsletter
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🔔 Subscribe to or Join our YouTube channel for daily video updates

Leave a comment below or join the discussion on Thaiger Talk Forums.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Tourism11 hours ago

Pattaya October reopening hampered by obstacles

Coronavirus (Covid-19)12 hours ago

Thong Lor again: 31 arrested in club violating Covid-19 rules

Coronavirus (Covid-19)13 hours ago

Pfizer vaccine application received, review process begun

Phuket Sandbox July 1st


Thaiger is getting behind local businesses for the restart of tourism in July - up to 50% discounts across all advertising packages in June!

Sponsored by image

Visa16 hours ago

Covid-19 prevention leads to 14 arrests of longterm overstays

Coronavirus (Covid-19)17 hours ago

Covid UPDATE: 3,277 new infections and 29 deaths, provincial totals

Thailand17 hours ago

Red tape and restrictions suggest a slow Phuket reopening

Phuket17 hours ago

UPDATE: Tourism Minister reportedly says July 1 ‘sandbox’ won’t happen

Tourism18 hours ago

Koh Samui eyes August 1 reopening, “Samui Sealed Route”

Weather19 hours ago

Village need rain? Have you considered a giant penis?

Coronavirus (Covid-19)22 hours ago

Covid UPDATE Saturday: 3,277 new infections and 29 deaths

Coronavirus (Covid-19)1 day ago

8.3% of Thailand’s 50 million vaccine target reached so far

Coronavirus (Covid-19)1 day ago

Site launched for June 14 vaccine signup for all foreigners

Coronavirus (Covid-19)1 day ago

Free quarantine accommodation for arriving Thais to be cancelled

Thailand2 days ago

Thailand News Today | Sandbox – bar, clubs closed? Local AZ problems, Sex toy arrest | June 11

Drugs2 days ago

UN report: Changes in Southeast Asia drug trafficking during the pandemic

Thailand3 months ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism3 months ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket3 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism4 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand4 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism4 months ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Southern floods, Face mask fines, Thai Air Asia woes | January 8