A popular strength-training debate is on the topic of machines versus free weights: Which is better for adding slabs of new muscle mass? Let’s end that discussion right now because the truth is that both free weights and machines have their advantages and disadvantages. In fact, the strengths of one style of workout can be the exact reason the other one falls short, and vice versa. However, without getting too deep into science, biomechanics, and physiology of how these workouts differ, we can assure you that a proper balance of both free weights (usually involving barbells and dumbbells) and machines (plate-loaded, selectorized, and cable) is the most effective path to building the physique you are after—not just one or the other alone.

Trainer and fitness coach Eric Broser shares some of his favorite machine-based exercises and why they are valuable in building muscle. Most of these machines are common in any commercial gym.