Plate Loaded vs Selectorized: Maximize Your Workouts in 2024

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Tonya McIntosh

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Plate-loaded or selectorized? When it comes to weightlifting equipment, which is the better option? Let’s take a closer look.

Plate-loaded equipment is a type of weightlifting equipment where the resistance is provided by plates loaded onto a bar. The bar is usually adjustable, allowing the lifter to change weight easily. The Selectorized machines, on the other hand, use a weight stack that is selected by a pin.

Let’s compare plate-loaded and selectorized equipment to find which is best for you.

Are Plate Loaded Machines Good?

It depends on what you’re looking for regarding fitness equipment. Plate loaded machines can be a good option for people who want to build strength and muscle mass, as they typically offer more resistance than cable-based machines and allow you to use free weights, which can better mimic the movements of everyday life.

Plate loaded machines are also often more versatile, as you can add or remove weight plates to change the resistance level, allowing you to do a variety of exercises on them.

Are Selectorized Machines Good?

Selectorized machines are ideal for beginners, as they allow you to quickly change the weight stack and add or remove weight plates with a simple pin.

This makes them great for those who need to learn proper form without worrying about putting on and removing heavy weights.

Additionally, selectorized machines are often more compact than plate loaded equipment, making them great for small home gyms and limited spaces.

Plate Loaded vs Selectorized: Overview

Here is an overview of the plate loaded and the Selectorized equipment.

Plate Loaded Equipment

Plate Loaded Equipment

Plate loaded equipment refers to weight training equipment that allows the user to load weight plates onto the machine rather than using a weight stack.

This type of equipment is often used in strength training and bodybuilding and typically consists of a metal frame with a handle or lever that the user can grip and push or pull to perform the exercise.

These equipment pieces usually have an adjustable bar that can accommodate different weights and sizes of plates, making them very versatile.

Selectorized Equipment

Selectorized Equipment

Selectorized equipment is a weight training machine that uses a weight stack with a pin selection system to change the resistance level. This makes it easy for users to quickly adjust their weight, allowing them to progress from light weights to heavier ones over time.

Selectorized machines are often more compact and easier to use than plate loaded equipment, making them an excellent option for beginners or those with limited space in their home gym.

Plate Loaded vs. Selectorized: Benefits and Drawbacks

Plate loadedSelectorized
Unlimited weight capacityLimited to weight stack
Simple maintenanceHas many moving parts
ReliableRequires more maintenance
Bilateral movementsUni-lateral movements
Needs loading and off-loading weight platesChanges weight between sets
Inconsistent load resistanceConsistent resistance

Benefits of the Plate Loaded Equipment

Benefits of the Plate Loaded Equipment

Read on as I discuss the benefits of the plate loaded equipment in detail:


The main benefit of the plate loaded equipment is that it can be easily customized.

You can adjust the bar to any weight you like and add or remove plates as needed, allowing you to progress through your workout routine easily.

Increased Weight Limit

Plate loaded equipment can also often hold more weight than selectorized machines, making them a great option for lifting heavier weights.


This equipment is typically more reliable and durable than selectorized machines, as there are no pins or other moving parts that can wear out over time.


There are many different types of exercises you can do on plate loaded equipment, making it a great option for those who want to add variety to their workouts.

Existing Olympic Plates Work

If you already have Olympic weight plates, you can use them with plate loaded equipment, which is an excellent option if you are looking for a cost-effective solution.

Drawbacks of the Plate Loaded Equipment

The disadvantages of using the plate loaded equipment include the following:

Hard to Load

You will need to manually load and unload the weight plates, which can be difficult for those with limited strength or mobility.

Slower To Use

It can take longer to adjust the weight or perform an exercise on this type of equipment than with a selectorized machine.

Benefits of Selectorized Equipment

Benefits of Selectorized Equipment

Let’s look at the benefits of using selectorized equipment in detail:

Support Solo Usage

This type of equipment is often designed with safety features that make it easier to perform exercises alone, making it an excellent option for those who don’t have a spotter.

Easily Incorporated Into Workouts

Selectorized equipment is often more compact and easier to use than plate loaded equipment, which is why it is such an excellent option when it comes to incorporating it into your workout routine.


This equipment is usually smaller and takes up less space than plate loaded machines, so it’s an excellent choice for those with limited space in their home gym or a gym that doesn’t have a lot of space to spare.


The pin selection system makes it easy to quickly adjust the weight, allowing you to progress from light weights to heavier ones over time.

Quickly Change Weight Between Sets

The pin selection system also makes it easy to quickly change the weight between sets, allowing for a more efficient workout.

Consistent Resistance Through the Movement

The pulley system used on selectorized machines helps to ensure consistent resistance throughout the entire range of motion for each exercise.

Drawbacks of Selectorized Equipment

These are the potential drawbacks of using selectorized equipment:

Limited to Weight Stack

The weight selection is limited to the weight stack, making it difficult to increase the resistance beyond what’s included in the machine.

More Expensive

Selectorized machines are usually more expensive than plate loaded equipment, so they may not be a viable option for those on a budget.

Weight Range Is Non-upgradable

The weight range is not upgradable, so if you need more resistance than what’s included in the machine, you will need to purchase a new one.

More Frequent Maintenance Needed

You will need to maintain the pulley system more frequently than with plate loaded equipment, as dirt and debris can accumulate over time.

Plate Loaded vs. Selectorized: What Are the Differences?

The differences between the two types of equipment come down to the following:

Structure & Set Up

The plate-loaded equipment is designed as an open frame with weight plates loaded onto the machine. Selectorized machines are enclosed and utilize a pin selection system to change weight quickly.

Ease of Use

Plate loaded weights are manually loaded and unloaded, which can be difficult for some users. Selectorized machines make it easier to quickly adjust the weight without requiring manual loading or unloading.

Targeting a Specific Muscle Group

When using the plate loaded equipment, you must manually adjust the weight plates to target a specific muscle group.

The selectorized machines have a pin selection system that makes it easy to quickly and accurately select the desired weight for each exercise.

Weight Limitation/Capacities

The weight capacity of plate loaded equipment can be limited by the number of weight plates you have available.

Selectorized machines typically have a preselected maximum weight limit that cannot easily be exceeded.


The plate loaded equipment requires no maintenance except regular cleaning and inspection.

Selectorized machines require more frequent maintenance to keep the pulley system running smoothly.

Cost & Warranties

Plate loaded equipment is usually less expensive than selectorized machines but may not have a warranty.

Selectorized machines are typically more expensive, but you can find some that include a warranty.

The Bottom Line

Choosing between plate-loaded and selectorized equipment depends on individual fitness goals, preferences, and circumstances.

Plate-loaded equipment is customizable, can hold more weight, offers more versatility, and is often more reliable, but it requires more maintenance and is slower to adjust.

On the other hand, selectorized equipment is easier to use, takes up less space, offers consistent resistance, and is ideal for beginners. Still, it has limited weight selection and can be more expensive.

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Chief Editor
Tonya McIntosh

Hello there! My name is Tonya McIntosh, and I’m the Founder and Chief Editor of TGFFitness. I’m also a NASM-certified Nutrition Coach and Personal Trainer. With eight years of experience under my belt, I’ve found that one of the most common issues my clients struggle with is remaining consistent.

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