With proper training techniques and coaching, you can achieve your best possible body using very little equipment at all. There is an enormous difference in effectiveness between being led through an exercise passively by a machine, and asserting the isolation and stabilization of your muscles using just your anatomy and your brain.Your personal trainer, whether in a gym or at home, should always be coaching you on how to make each repetition better than the last, teaching you visualization techniques on how to be in complete control of the constructiveness of the exercises, and... staying away from weight machines! Weight machines are okay if one needs the stabilization done for them - mostly in rehabilitative situations. For the healthy, balanced individual, your trainer must teach you to use your muscles to stabilize. This fine-tunes the mind-body connection (integral to top-notch results), burns significantly more calories by recruiting more muscles into use, and boosts the metabolism by doing so. You can strengthen and lean out your core, just by teaching it to stabilize you while you properly isolate whatever other muscle you are conditioning. By teaching your muscles to grip tightly while you execute an exercise, you are also coaching them to protect your joints for life - warding off the uncomfortable effects of aging such as arthritis.
If your trainer is following you around with a clipboard, and counting repetitions, more interested in what is written on their piece of paper than the physiological happenings in your body right before their eyes.... they don't love this stuff enough to hold an expert opinion on your training. You can use the grass, the floor, a chair, a table, stairs and your BODY to train every single muscle group. You simply need the right directive, and to know how to assign certain muscles as assertive and certain joints or muscles as passive in an exercise. Throw in a medicine ball, stability ball, pair of dumbbells or BOSU and you will have endless possibilities for your body's achievements!
If you're interested to find out how, contact me for a comp workout. You'd be surprised.
Cables and dumbbells of course have their place, but it's really the knowledge and coaching that makes the biggest difference in training.