P-SS Powertec Shape System

The Powertec Shape System was one of my favorite machines. At the time of me writing this – 30th April 2024 – I am still in possession of one. Granted it is nearly out the door after moving it out of my gym. Given these were last made in 2008 that speaks volumes of what I thought about this machine.

What Was All The Fuss About?

Functional trainer cable machines are a dime a dozen these days. So what made the Shape System so special to me? At the time Powertec did not have a cable crossover. Cheap cable crossovers were common. They were absolute junk. You know the ones. Cheap pulleys and concrete filled weight stacks.

Good quality cable crossovers with weight stacks were so expensive. To top it off they took up a lot of space. At the time, the Shape System offered something smaller and more affordable.

The most underrated part of this machine was the attached bench. I can hear you now. Why not use any gym bench? On some equipment this is easy, on others it isn’t. On the Shape System flipping the bench down was just so easy. No lining up. No movement under load. Yes it was a luxury, but a luxury that I grew to love.

Plus the attached gym bench also accepted all the Powertec bench attachments.

The Best Chest Exercise?

The Hammer Strength seated chest press was all the rage. Bodybuilding fans inspired by Dorian Yates would crave getting their hands on such a machine. They were expensive and took up a lot of space – even many commercial gyms could not afford them.

The seated chest press on the Shape System was one of my favourite exercises. One of the things that made it so good was the ease to perform it. I still do them now on the ATX Smith Cable Machine. But it is a pain in the ass getting it all lined up. First world problems I know.

It was easy to adjust the angle of the movement. So you could do the equivalent of a decline, incline and flat press with quick changes. This made it better than the Hammer chest press in my mind. The fact that you could do so many other exercises was just even more a reason why it was such a great piece of gym equipment.

Great Machine, Just Not Idiot Proof

If the machine was so great, why did Powertec get rid of the Shape System. The main reason was that they had some damages claims. People were able to tip the machine over.

When I first heard this claim I honestly did not believe it. Considering I had loads of experience with this particular machine, I could not comprehend how it could be tipped. Then we sold one to the boys at the local surf club. They managed to figure it out.

If you had the cables fully extended. With the weight carriage at the top. If you kept pulling, the Shape System would tip over. I am not sure what exercise they were actually doing. They probably did not know either!

In the US, the home of litigation, the machine must be take into consideration improper use. And that was the end of the Shape System from Powertec.

The Original Silent Achiever

The Powertec best sellers like the Leverage Gym sold because of their unique look. Back then a simple promo video was a rarity. So the combination of a cool looking gym with Jay Cutler using it was enough to blow minds. To sell the Powertec Shape System required a bit more work. We did our best. We got Lee Priest doing cable crossovers!

It also got a few bad wraps on the bodybuilding.com gym equipment forums. People would go into the local Dick’s Sporting Goods store and see a unit that had been incorrectly assembled by a 15 year old gronk. The weight carriage would stick with no weight. They concluded that it was not smooth.

Although it was never the smoothest, it was smooth enough. Smoother than a lot of machines in the gym. But the lack of positive content and the presence of some negative, made it harder to sell.

Powertec Shape System Official Promo

Functional Weight Training System with Compact Footprint

The redesigned Powertec Shape System has taken the traditional cable crossover to new levels. The compact footprint and folding bench allows you to perform many functional exercises. The adjustable pulley heights enable you to target specific muscle groups.

The Powertec Shape System offers an alterative to traditional barbell and dumbbell training. This makes this Shape System a perfect home gym or a valuable addition to an existing home gym.

Official Shape System catalogue page


Footprint: 210cm wide x 150cm deep with the bench down or 90cm with the bench folded up. Height: 210cm Weight: 117kgs Weight Load Capacity: 110kg per upright