Cables vs Free Weights – Which Is Better For Muscle Gain?

Cables vs Free Weights

Is it free weights or cables? You might be confused about which equipment to use for your next workout. Both types of equipment offer benefits and can help you develop muscle definition and strength. If you’re still trying to decide which training method is better, take a look at what each offers.

Free Weights 

Free weights are weights such as a barbell, dumbbell set, kettlebell set, weight plates and sandbags that are not attached to another structural device and can be lifted using your body weight and your strength.

Cable Machine

The cable machine is a piece of gym equipment that has adjustable cable pulleys or gym attachments. It allows you to perform many different exercises with the resistance of the cables. Some machines have one or two cable stations, while others have multiple. For you to use cables, you need to have cable attachments like:

Difference between free weights and cable machine

The main difference between free weights and cable machines is that free weights can be moved around by you during your workout. With cable machines, you have to move the weight around yourself using an attached handle or pulley system. In addition to this difference, free weights require some space while cable machines can be compacted into one area.

Are Cables better than free weights?

To have a deeper understanding, let us look through the benefits of both pieces of equipment.

Benefits of Cable Machine

Safe & Secure

You can use cable machines safely because you don’t have to worry about weights dropping on your body or the floor. However, it’s not recommended to regularly drop the weights because this can damage your equipment and also be an improper technique for most exercises.

Easy to use

While cable machines can look more complicated than free-weight machines, they are easier to use and create a more fluid, guided workout experience. The nature of a cable crossover machine means that the cables guide you through the range of motion in each exercise, and they’re known to improve workout form by targeting specific muscle groups. Gym stations often have workout diagrams as well as diagrams that show which muscles are being targeted at each station.

No Resting Point 

Some cable machine exercises have no rest points, meaning that the muscles are kept working throughout the movement. This maximises the advantages of each exercise and makes sure that each action is being worked at the same intensity. You’re also constantly working your core with every cable machine exercise because most require users to stand and keep their balance at all times. This will help improve athletic performance by forcing users to work as a team throughout each exercise; this is especially important for athletes who must implement proper mechanics when hitting a ball or swinging a bat.


Cable machines are great for targeting specific muscles, enabling you to create a personalised workout plan that works your body the way you want it to. Examples of such exercises include tricep pushdowns and bicep curls.


Cable machines are more adjustable and customisable than dumbbells or any other types of resistance training equipment, allowing users to target specific muscles in a variety of ways. Seated row handles can be swapped out for one that is more comfortable, while pulley handles allow for an additional level of customisation.

Benefits of Free Weights

Variation & Versatility 

Free weights allow for greater variation in training because there is no limit on how much you can lift – unlike with cable machines where there is only so much weight that can be pulled up at any one time before. Free weights can be used without a machine to perform exercises such as squats, lunges, deadlifts and bench presses. They can also be used with machines like flat benches or leg presses to perform assistance exercises such as leg curls or calf raises.

Range of Choice

Free weights are a broader category of gym equipment and include both dumbbells and barbells along with many other choices like a medicine ball, Y bells, weighted balls, kettlebell set and sandbags are just a few examples of the kinds of free weights you can choose from whatever works best for your fitness level.

Larger Weight Range

Free weights provide a wider range of options for weight control and equipment, which allows you to choose what weight range is best for you. Cable machines have a maximum weight that can be increased, but they also have limitations such as how much you can lift and what equipment is available.

Space & Cost

Free weight requires lesser space as compared to cables as cable machines can differ in weight and size; some are too bulkier. Free weights usually have lower costs of entry. It’s possible to find many affordable, good-quality weights, while cable machines will almost always cost more and often require expensive upkeep.


We train so that our bodies can do better and be healthier. For this to happen, we sometimes use various training equipment. When it comes to building muscle, many people are torn between using cables and free weights. Cable machines can help you build definition and strength, while free weights give you the chance to feel the strain of the greater weight. The exercise equipment you use may depend on your personal preference, budget as well as fitness goals.

Muscle Mad is your one-stop shop for premium gym equipment. We keep our equipment affordable so you can achieve your fitness goals regardless of where you are. If you’re planning to start doing cable exercises, then make sure you check out 6 Must-have Gym Attachments For Cable Exercises here. Happy workout!

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