The best thing for a beginner to do is begin
. Start moving weight. Now. Tell us how it worked out. What do you like about the machine? Dislike?
StHarrison: if those machines are what you have, then use them. Start light and add weight each session. I'm sure you've picked up a barbell or two in your life
, but if the machines are what is there, use 'em and find out what they're like.
The differences between machines and free weights are very real, but they tend to get hidden behind dogma. The reality is:
1) machines provide far more isolation. Pro: work a specific muscle. Con: less carryover to other lifts and real life, because you never really use muscles in isolation. (Example quote by Rippetoe: "the only place in the universe where the quadriceps are used in isolation is in a gym on a machine designed for that purpose.")
2) Kettlebells are the opposite extreme, where you cannot isolate a muscle because you put so much effort into maintaining balance. E.G: kettlebell press, you can barely move any weight because all of your effort goes into stopping the bell from falling over. This is the extreme opposite of machines.
These days I avoid the dogma around these arguments. I have my preferences, which lean towards barbells and dumbbells, but we have machines in my gym and I use them. My only real dogma is to get into the gym and move weight.