Lifting free weights is one of the best ways to strengthen your muscles, burn calories, and become better at pretty much everything you do.

If your strength exercise is limited to resistance machines, it is time to get up and grab some weights. Not only are they convenient and cost-effective if you are exercising at home, but using free weights may actually beat out traditional gym equipment in the performance department, too.

According to trainers, incorporating them into your workout routine is one of the best ways to strengthen your muscles, burn calories, and become better at pretty much everything you do.

Free Weights Are Functional

The best exercises are the ones that improve your performance out of the gym-whether that means running a half-marathon, moving furniture around your room, or climbing onto your kitchen counters because your home was designed for tall men and women.

Those exercises are what trainers call”functional,” and by and large, they require free weights.

Free weights give your body an opportunity to move throughout all three planes of motion, so that you move throughout space like you would in normal life.

Machines generally have you sitting down and lifting a weighted load while confined to a single plane of motion. In life out of the gym, you are rarely if ever pushing, pulling, or lifting while seated.

Even a basic free-weight exercise, such as a standing dumbbell biceps curl, carries over into daily activities like lifting up grocery bags or shopping bags. Now, that’s a basic exercise.

Free Weights Are Efficient

Since free weights, unlike machines, aren’t fixed to a certain path, that means you don’t just have to push or pull in one direction. You also have to keep the weights-and yourself-from wobbling. That’s a great thing for all of your muscles.

Because your body has to work to support the weight and control the motion, your larger muscles, stabilizer muscles, and core all work together to control your movements.

Free Weights Improve Your Balance

Free weights don’t just work a variety of muscles at the same time. They make them work together, which is critical for balance and coordination.

As an example, a study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that people who performed free-weight exercises improved their balance almost twice as much as those who performed similar exercises on resistance-training machines.

Free Weights Burn A Great Amount Of Calories

The more muscle you work during a given exercise, the more calories you are going to burn with every rep.

And while any free-weight exercise is likely to tax your smaller stabilizers more than resistance-machine exercises, free weights also allow you to perform compound movements that work your entire body at once, he says.

Think about a squat to overhead press: By hitting your legs, core, arms, and shoulders, the movement sends your calorie burn through the roof.

There Are No Limits With Free Weights

Free weights are arguably the most versatile exercise tool. All you need are the weights and a few square feet of empty space, and you can perform hundreds, if not thousands, of exercises to strengthen almost every muscle in your body.