Free Weights Or Machines For Seniors?

According to WebMD, researchers assert the need for seniors to do strength training more than younger adults to build more muscle mass and maintain healthy muscle size. It’s for this reason that I sought to delve deeper into this subject and find out which one is better for seniors between free weights and machines. When it comes to the question of free weights or machines for seniors? what comes out quite clearly is that multiple factors determine whether seniors should use free weights or machines for their weight training exercises.

While there might be a preferred option, both are vital for increasing strength and building the much-needed muscle mass for aging seniors. Some of the factors that influence one’s choice between free weights and machines include access to equipment, one’s fitness level, preference, and training goals.

Indeed, living healthy and quality lives is contributing greatly to the need for people, including seniors, to engage in strength training. It’s dawning on seniors that the more active they are, the more they secure healthier and quality lives.

Nowadays, more than ever before, seniors above the age of 60 are not afraid of doing weight training to increase their strength and power. That is why the question of whether seniors should do free weights or machines is worthy of an in-depth discussion.

Every passing day welcomes many people to the seniors’ category. Is it important for them to do strength training? How should they do it? Certainly, the need to learn more about free weights and machine weights is timely, given that more and more seniors are either engaging in strength training or would like to begin such exercises.

Free weights and machines are different and dynamic; thus, it is worth to know much about them in regards to seniors’ strength training workouts. This information is of significant value to seniors engaged in or willing to do weight training.

Strength Training Among Seniors

Is strength training important for seniors? Yes, of course. Just like their young adult counterparts, seniors need to do strength training exercises often.

Research published by Clinics in Geriatric Medicine in 2010 shows that older citizens are in dire need of weight training more than young adults. The older a person gets, the harder they have to work to maintain their muscles. According to Mayer et al (2011), it’s proven through scientific research that strength training exercises are a viable option for building muscle strength.

Muscle loss is evident as people age; hence, they must get involved in active workouts that help them to add a substantial amount of strength to their bodies. Seniors need strong muscles to enhance their mobility and quality of life.

Therefore, consistent strength training is good for older citizens who wish to remain healthy for a long time. It doesn’t mean that if one is old, he or she has to stop being active, right? Research affirms that doing exercises that maintain muscle mass is an imperative recipe for healthy aging.

As seniors join the group of weightlifting individuals, there are two options that they can go for. It can be either free weights or machine weights. Various factors contribute to one’s decision to opt for either free weights or machine weights. Irrespective of the training option that one settles for, though they are different, with proper technique and consistency, it’s possible to achieve quality results.

Weight training is, without a doubt, a valuable strength and muscle building formula for older populations as it allows them to maintain active, happy, and independent lives even as they age. At this point, knowing the difference between free weights and machines will help to comprehend the subject further.

The Differences Between Free Weights and Machine Weights

There are various notable differences between free weights and machines. To gain a deeper and detailed understanding of whether seniors should go for free weights or machine weights, it’s prudent to know the differences between the two.

To begin with, in terms of building body strength and muscles, free weights are known to build more body muscle and strength compared to machine weights. With free weights, the body can adjust naturally to the strength and muscle building process.

In the same vein, machine weights are good when one wants to isolate particular muscles to increase mass and strength. Moreover, for seniors who don’t have experience with weightlifting, machine weights are the best option because of their supportive nature and ease of use.

Another element that distinguishes between free weights from machines is the techniques involved. Free weights require one to have mastery of technique to do weight training exercises effectively. Unlike in machine weights, a user doesn’t have a fixed path to follow when doing free weights. The ability for one to comprehend the technique involved in free weights is vital in avoiding strain on muscle joints.

As a result of the technical aspect of doing free weights, it’s essential to have someone assisting when doing workouts. In respect to the technical element of machine weights, a user is usually guided, meaning that there is no technical burden as it is in free weights. Thus, there is no need for one to work with another person for assistance.

In regards to the burning of calories, it’s worth noting that free weights burn more calories than machine weights. Since machine weights utilize fewer muscles, they burn lesser calories than when using free weights. Therefore, free weights are more applicable to those who want to lose weight.

Factors Influencing the Choice between Free Weights and Machine Weights

Seniors have different circumstances surrounding them and affecting the decisions they make in their daily lives. In terms of choosing between free weights and machine weights for seniors doing strength training, there are a couple of factors worth exploring. The first aspect to consider is the goals of a user.

If the goal of a senior is to add strength and muscles in the most effective way possible, then the better option to consider is free weights. Also, if you want to lose bodyweight and fat, free weights are the way to go. Again, if your goal is to exercise in a safer environment, being a beginner, then machine weights happen to be the better option for you.

Another significant element that influences the choice between the two strength training techniques is one’s preference. Seniors have the liberty to choose the option they prefer depending on the knowledge they have about it.

Furthermore, the fitness level of an older citizen can affect his or her decision to choose either free weights or machine weights. If one’s physical fitness level is high, it’s possible to use free weights because it’s more strenuous compared to machine weights.

If the level of physical fitness is low, it’s prudent to use machine weights for exercises to avoid straining connective tissues. Moreover, access to equipment plays a crucial role in a senior’s final decision regarding weight training. Free weights are cheaper than machine weights; thus, it’s easier to acquire and access them.

In the same vein, machines occupy more space compared to free weights. What this means is that if one will want to have weight training exercises at home, then it’s easier to settle for free weights. With these factors, seniors can choose the training option that suits them best.

The Pros and Cons of Free Weights for Seniors

Free weights are a feasible path that seniors can take to increase their strength capacity and muscle mass. As they age, they need to build more muscle because of the changes happening in their bodies. This brings us to the most significant advantage of free weights. Free weights work well in building more muscle mass and strength.

Seniors who use free weights to strength train are better placed to build multiple muscles. As they build more muscle mass, they are adding their strength significantly and, thus, improving their quality of life. Also, free weights help users to lose weight faster. If you are an older citizen and you would like to lose body fat, you can settle for free weights.

They will do a better job in burning extra calories in your body. Of great importance still, free weights are cheap to acquire, therefore making them more accessible. For seniors looking for easily accessible weights, then free weights are a viable option for them.

There are cons associated with free weights that are worth considering. One of the cons associated with free weights is that they are highly technical. This means that you might need someone to assist you when doing workouts.

Especially for older citizens who might not be experienced in using free weights, they will need extra help, which is quite limiting. You can only do workouts when there is someone to help you. Besides, free weights can cause injuries easily.

It’s possible to drop the weights, hence increasing the risk of injury to seniors. For this reason, older persons wishing to use free weights should consider the pros and cons involved before embarking on their workouts.

The Pros and Cons of Machine Weights for Seniors

Machines weights are also valuable for seniors wishing to maintain their strength and muscle mass. One of the major pros of machine weights is that they are safe to use. Compared to free weights, seniors can rely on machines to be safe as they do their workouts.

Fundamentally, machine weights guide users, thus decreasing the likelihood of injuries. Since seniors are vulnerable to injuries, using machine weights, especially for beginners, is the better option for strength training exercises.

Additionally, when it comes to structural bodybuilding, machines are advantageous because they can isolate particular muscles and work towards increasing their strength and mass. Furthermore, most seniors need a lot of support when doing workouts.

This is where machine weights come in handy. They are not only supportive but also easy to use. It’s for this reason that they emerge as a better option for weight training for many older persons.

In regards to the disadvantages of machines, it’s important to talk about the burning of calories. Machine weights burn fewer calories compared to free weights. Given that machine weights only utilize fewer muscles, they can only burn fewer calories.

This is a disadvantage to persons who want to lose weight through weight training. Another disadvantage of machine weights is that they are expensive. If you want to buy your own equipment, you will need to spend more money compared to free weights.

Consequently, accessing machine weights is not as easy and flexible as in free weights. Thus, it’s limiting for some senior persons to use machine weights for strength training.

Verdict: Which One Is Better?

The question of which one is better between free weights and machines for seniors is, indeed, an important one. It’s cardinal to begin by pointing out that both training methods are valuable and essential for senior persons doing strength training.

However, the decision to choose either of them or both depends on different factors. For instance, if you want a training method that will help you gain more strength and muscle mass faster, you can consider using free weights for your workouts. In the same vein, free weights are better when it comes to losing excess body weight.

On the other hand, if you are a senior citizen in need of a safer workout method, you can always consider going for machine weights. Older persons should exercise in a safe environment, especially if they are not experienced in weightlifting.

You will reduce the likelihood of injuries if you use machine weights for your workouts. For seniors who can use both training methods, you can combine the advantages associated with both and have more effective workout sessions. The bottom line is that seniors can choose either free weights or machines, depending on the one that suits one’s needs and preferences best.


Quality of health is paramount for seniors. Older persons are vulnerable to depreciating health, and that is why working outcomes in handy for them. Weight training is highly valuable for maintaining strength and strong muscles during the aging process. Hence, free weights and machines can be used by seniors to ensure that they have stronger muscles and bones.

Since both training methods work differently and have diverse dynamics defining them, it’s important to consider the one that works well to be effective during workouts. Certainly, developing a deeper understanding of each is the building-block to knowing the one that brings effective and quality weight training workouts.

Related Questions:

How often should seniors lift weights?

Seniors should lift weight depending on various factors, including their workout goals and their fitness levels. Their experience and technical ability also contributes to their frequency of workouts

Can you combine both free weights and machine weights?

It’s possible to combine both free weights and machine weights, as long as it’s convenient to do so, given that they have different characteristics

Is it healthy for seniors to lift weights daily?

It’s not healthy for seniors to lift weights daily, as this could negatively affect their workout goals. Additionally, the body needs time to rebuild for more workouts.

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Latham N. &Liu CJ. (2010). Strength training in older adults: the benefits for osteoarthritis.

Mayer, F., Scharhag-Rosenberger, F., Carlsohn, A., Cassel, M., Müller, S., & Scharhag, J. (2011). The intensity and effects of strength training in the elderly. Deutsches Arzteblatt international, 108(21), 359–364.

WebMD. (2019). Older People Must Work Out More to Keep Muscles. WebMD.

Tomasz Faber

HI, MY NAME IS TOMASZ, and welcome to my site I’m a weightlifter, and I’m very much interested in health and fitness subjects. Throughout a few years of my weightlifting training, and diet experience, I managed to make my body much, much stronger, as well as build endurance and athletic figure. I live in London, UK, where I enjoy my weightlifting more...

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