Free Weights Vs Smith Machine: Head To Head Comparison In 2021

Among the gym equipment, free weights and Smith Machine are two famous. Both have almost the same usage but different features. Both free weights and Smithe Machine do the same things in different ways. These differences between these two gym instruments can confuse most people. Here in the free weights vs Smith Machine article, I am going to show you all the differences between these two. After reading this article, you will get a complete idea about both of them.

What are Free Weights?

What are Free Weights?

Free weights are some physical strength training or exercises that are done by using some free objects. These exercises are like bench press, deadlifts, weight leg exercises, chest presses, back presses, and many others. The free objects people use in these exercises are dumbbells, barbells, and kettlebells.

The piece of weight people lift in this type of exercise does the main tricks for their muscle force production. If you can maintain regularity in these free weight exercises then you will clearly find the difference in muscle. They will be stronger and working for your body.

What is a Smith Machine?

The smith machine is one of the most used and discussed exercise equipment. It has various usages in the resistance exercises. The main use of it in weight training or smith machine squats. It has a lot of features that make it unique. Among these features, smith machine bench or weight bench, chain system barbells are most used.

After Jack LaLanne invented this, the machine squats lovers fell in love with this. Still today, people love doing machine squats by using Jack LaLanne’s invention. Its safety, range of motion, and many other good sides take it to the top of all other equipment people use in the gym. Some people think of a power rack as a substitution for this machine but some advantages and disadvantages of this machine differ from the power rack.

What is a Smith Machine?

Difference Between Free Weights vs Smith Machine

If you are thinking of buying one or preparing yourself to use them then the free weights Vs smith machine discussion will help you select one. We can categorize differences in the following ways. Let’s have a look at them.

Types of users:

The Smith machine is the best way of muscle activation. It has a huge number of other usages. Among them, heavier weight lifting, bench press exercise, etc. Like other weight squats, this weight machine also has a barbell squat. But for the new members of a gym, it is hard to lift these heavy weights.

They can not maintain the balance of it. Less control over the weight barbells may create a risk of injury. For this reason, the Smith machine has very good technology that makes it easy to control. This technology controls the bar motion to make this weight Machine safe for new users. The inexperienced lifters will be risk-free in Smith Machine. 

On the other hand, free weights are free, they have no control and the user gets no support from anything. Some gym owners keep a free-weight squat rack in their gym for basic support. Because it is not helpful for beginners. For this reason, people think free weights to be for the experts.


Another matter of discussion of exercise machines is their safety. In recent times, machine training is popular. People use machines like treadmills, smith machines, Rowing machines, Upright bikes to be fit. But the question of injury risk comes just behind their name.

Some people tag them as safe on the other hand some say they are unsafe. In the case of Smith Machine, we can say that this is safe and easy. It has no chance of falling Weight Barbells on you or someone. The fall of training wheels on you may cause numerous injuries. So, we can say that the smith machine is safer than the free weights.

Difference Between Free Weights vs Smith Machine

The bench press facilities:

Another main facility of the smith machine is its weight bench. The weight bench will help you do bench press exercise which is best for muscle growth, muscle mass, and strengthening the primary muscles. The bench you will get in this machine is different from the regular bench.

This benefit of this machine makes it exceptional from the free weight. In free weight, you will not get any bench to perform its special workouts. Here is a difference between these two most discussed exercise equipment. The weights for the bench should be according to the participant’s ability. The overweight may cause major muscle injury.


Weight movements in the time of weight exercise are a big deal. Sometimes we have to move the weight vertically and sometimes horizontally. The two-weight exercise equipment in today’s discussion has different features in the case of movements. The Smith machine will only ensure the vertical movement of weights.

The up and down range of motion is only offered by the smith machine but the free weight will help you to move in any direction. The prime mover in the machine makes the main difference. We can say that the discussion of movement makes the free weight more advanced.

The result of  workouts:

There are some purposes for weight workouts.  Among these purposes, muscle growth, activation of muscles,  to get stability muscles, and leg training are main. But if you search for any easy exercises then you will not get the expected result. For this reason, you have to choose the right weight exercise.

Also, the right piece of equipment must get the best workout result. In the smith machine vs free weight discussion, we already discussed some advantages of the previous one. But this one is in favor of free weight training equipment. The weight squat stand will help you to control the weight barbells. But if you try to do some natural movement then you will lose your balance. Balance is very important in a weight workout.

Muscle activation rate:

Most people try to make a difference between these two weight exercise equipment based on their real results on our bodies. Among these results, the muscle activation rate is one. Different studies are showing that the pectoralis major, medial deltoid, and anterior deltoid muscle activation rate of free weight is more than the smith machine are different.

In the case of the pectoralis major, the previous one has almost 90% 1RM load or repetition maximum but the latter has a 70% 1RM load or repetition maximum of this rate. This is showing the difference in the direct impact of these two pieces of equipment on our bodies.

Use of stabilizer muscle:

As I already mention that the smith machine is easier for beginners. The main reason behind it is very obvious in front of us. The prime mover in this machine gives a fixed range of motion. That motion during movement needs less use of stabilizer muscle. This is the main reason for muscle imbalance.

This has some bad effects on the development of stabilizing muscles. This is a bad side of the smith machine. The free weight is more user-friendly in this case. It uses more stabilizer muscle during workouts. For more use of these small muscles, the result of weight exercise becomes more effective for our body.

Are Smith Machines Less Weight?

Are Smith Machines Less Weight

The people who don’t know about Jack LaLanne’s machine properly, have a lot of questions. They have some confusion and some asking. Among them, some people want to know whether the machine is less weight or not. Let’s try to answer that question to remove this major doubt.

The first thing I want to say is that the weight depends on the barbells. The more weight you want you can add to it. But some people accuse that the weight machine is less weight. This is also true. The weight power racks are free.

The more weight you will add to it, the more it will be weighty but the smith machine or weight machines have a guard system that takes some 10,15 or 20 pounds less than the free weights machines or weight power rack. So, we can say that the weight machine’s being less weight is true but the amount it lessens is not huge.

Are Free Weights Better Than Smith Machines?

This is a very tough question to answer because both have some advantages and disadvantages. Both have different squat exercises, variations in regular squats, barbell bench, and many others. These two are good for different age weight lifters. One is best for amateur weight lifters and another is good for experienced people.

The weight power rack is best to learn to balance the weight. On the other hand, the weight machine is safe. Smith machine squats are beginner-friendly but the free weight is for experts. Both the gym equipment has some good and bad sides. You can make your decision on this question.

But if you ask my own opinion then I will give some credits to free weights. If you are a beginner they try to start from less weight to more gradually. This will give you true fitness and the best result.


What is stabilizer muscle development?

We know the small muscles of our body as stabilizer muscles. These muscles work while the primary mover acts as their primary movements.

Can you build muscle with a Smith Machine

Yes, You can build muscle with a smith machine. But you have to perform some proper form of weight benching. You have to perform your favorite movement and also secondary movement.

How much weight do smith machines take off

Actually, the smith machine can not take off any weight. Jack LaLanne designed it to perform the straight line movement of weight bars. The person who uses this machine takes off the weight. It has no limit.

Can you lose weight using weight machines

Yes, you can lose weight using the weight machine but you have to perform all the weight loss exercises regularly in proper form.

Is smith machine easier than free weights

Yes, the smith machine is easier than the free weight. For these reasons people use this machine at the beginning of their gym day.


Finally, the Free Weights Vs Smith Machine discussion comes to an end by providing huge knowledge to the readers. One is good for the beginner and another is good for pro-people. One ensures safety, the other is riskier.  One has a regular bench and the other has nothing like that.

The differences and similarities between these two weight machines are very complex to identify but they come to obvious now. If you complete reading this article then you have the ability to make a difference between them.

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