Our industry is so black and white. Think about it, you either do CrossFIt or you are a Bodybuilder but somehow the two don't mix together... YET ! There are so many beneficial thing movements that you can learn from one side of the spectrum to the other. I am often confronted with arguments from personal trainers, other coaches and even clients about what the benefits are of using machines/ dumbbells and being "the machine".
This is where you need to see both sides of the equation. Machines are just as important to your training as free weights are. Machines offer the "aesthetics" edge of your training. Ever hear of people wanting to "look" like they workout? Sculpting muscle is very different than training for performance. They do have a place that they mix together very well, it's finding out what works for you and your goals.
If you are from the CrossFit community, you us primarily barbells, bumpers and minimalist equipment like kettle-bells and wallballs. You are the "machine" in essence and you do not use one for training. For starters, what is a fixed machine? It can be either plate-loaded or selectorized (controlled by pulleys and levers) machines. This includes any machine with a fixed pattern of movement that can’t be altered, no matter what angle you pull or push from, is “fixed form.”They do not enforce fixed-movement patterns; they provide the user with multi-planar, unrestricted movement and therefore should be classed as free weights.
How do you get stronger? You create a stimulus for growth. How do you do this? You use the process of hypertrophy which creates muscle growth. In essence, the muscle-building process occurs in response to either the degree of loading or the metabolic demands placed upon the muscle.Stimulus is key because your body doesn't know if you are using a barbell, dumbbell or kettlebell.
Why incorporate free weights into your training? Free weights are without question superior for activating stabilizing muscles. It allows your muscles to increase stabilization in the movement thus creating more muscle growth. The more muscles your recruit the more you will see changes and growth. Using a fixed machine has added benefits for full range of motion under constant tension. This provides a challenge to muscle fibers at different angles compared to free weights, and allows the muscle to work fully through a greater range of motion. This in turn helps to create the overload necessary to promote muscle mass.Increased force output is important for stimulating the activation, and then overload, of muscle fibers.
Maybe trying out a fixed machine like a lat pulldown, leg press, leg extension or hamstring curl can increase your power out put and strength along with giving you the aesthetic look. Unless you try them, you’ll never know. So consider moving away from the free weight area just once, and open up your muscle-building potential.