Multi-Gym Equipment

Home fitness – Not all multi-gyms are created equal

As the term home gym or multi-gym suggests, this piece of equipment attempts to bring the functionality of the gym to your home. It sounds great in theory – a single piece of gym equipment that merges several standalone machines into one. But this is where things can go horribly wrong! Over the years, designers have attempted to squeeze as many exercises into one machine as possible, and while this makes marketing the machine a lot easier, nearly all exercises are compromised in their functionality, or they don’t include the essential exercises.

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Multi-Gyms – The good, the bad, and the ugly

That’s why we stand by the fact that not all multi-gym equipment is created equal. Just take one look at our selection of multi-gyms and you will realize that we bring something different to the table, and the differences are far more than cosmetic. To find out more about the pitfalls of buying a cheap multi-gym, and the difference quality can make to your home workout sessions, read on down the page.

The mere mention of the term “home gym” can send a shiver down the spine of any serious weight trainer. Multi-gyms or multi-station gyms as they are also known can be pretty cheap and nasty. If you have ever searched for gym equipment online, you will be familiar with the plethora of cable-style home gyms that are very attractively priced. They promise the workout of your life, but the best workout you will ever get from these multi-gyms is dragging them out to the front of your house for the next council rubbish pick-up!

To minimize their footprint, most manufacturers will use a weight stack. This requires the use of cables. Now, cables are fine as long as they follow simple paths. But on multi-gyms with multiple exercises, the paths are long and complicated. Often this results in a mechanical advantage – so you might only need 50kg of force to lift 90kgs. This isn’t good if the machine only comes with a 90kg weight stack. Complicated cable routes also generate uneven resistance curves. So during an exercise, the resistance will be stronger during different parts of the exercise. This often gets worse over the life of the multi-gym as the cables start to stretch and the pulleys deteriorate.

Are there any decent multi-gyms out there?

A good quality cable home gym is fine, but they can be very expensive. The cheap multi gyms that are on eBay and Gumtree are just a disaster. Not only do they have terrible biomechanics and the issues outlined above, but the cables and pulleys fail as they are poorly made. I always tell people that these types of gyms are great only if you don’t ever use them!

This is where the original Powertec Leverage Gyms took a completely different approach.

The original designer of the Powertec gyms was part of the team that developed the early leverage machines that you see in commercial gyms today. He had the idea to combine these elements into single machines for home use – make gym equipment that had the look and feel of the commercial leverage machines but at a fraction of the cost and space.

The result was revolutionary. Personally, I took one look at these machines on the Powertec US website and was blown away. It was one of the reasons why I started Sam’s Fitness. I just had to get these multi-gyms into Australia!

What sets these multi-gyms apart from the competition?

What I and the rest of the customers who have made these multi-gyms so successful globally liked about these gyms was the simplicity and functionality of their design. Instead of trying to cram as many exercises as possible into a single machine, they have included the exercises that deliver the most bang for your buck. You can do the compound movements like bench press, squats, lat pulldowns, and rows. All with very generous weight load capacities.

Even better, these multi-gyms utilized leverage on most exercises – so you are able to load weight plates instead of being restricted to a weight stack. This meant some exercises could use up to 500lbs! Plus it eliminated the need for complicated cable paths. For the exercises that did use a cable, the paths were simple so you get direct and smooth resistance.

Later on, ATX took the Powertec designs and applied their German design philosophies with great success.

Now a lot of weight training enthusiasts will still turn their noses up at these leverage-style gyms. These trainers generally only worship one God – the barbell – and nothing can sway them. What they don’t take into consideration is that some people simply don’t like training with barbells. There is a lot of setups that take place as you get the barbell into position. The multi-gyms avoid this as you just throw your plates on and away you go.

The ATX Triplex is much more compact than a power rack gym. Its bench detaches, so you have even more flexibility in how you house your gym.

But what I like most about these multi-gyms is the almost limitless variety of exercises that you can perform with them. I mentioned previously that these gyms were initially designed to perform critical exercises with optimal functionality. However, over time, users from all around the world have come up with new exercises or variations on old favorites. Even after playing around with these gyms for over 10 years, I am still learning new things about these multi-gyms.

Still not convinced about their effectiveness? Lee Priest has used the multi-gyms in both the US and Australia. You will see many videos of him throwing around a lot of weight on these gyms – he even trained on these machines exclusively for his preparation for the San Francisco Pro, which he won.

Even the barbell fanboys have to be impressed with that!

Weight StackFrequently Asked Questions

Can you add Weights to a Multi Gym?

Some multi gyms have a weight stack. Depending on the build quality of the weight stack and the related structure, you can add some more weight by using a GymPin. This may void your warranty. In this case simply doing more reps or performing them slower may be a safer way to add intensity.

The ATX Multiplex and ATX Triplex both have stations that are plate loaded, meaning you can load Olympic plates onto the sleeves. On the pressing station, you can load 125kg per arm. This means you can press up to 250kgs which is more than enough for most trainers.

How to use a Multi Gym?

This will depend on the type of multi gym you own. Generally, multi gyms will have dedicated stations for each exercise. Or they will be able to be adjusted to perform specific exercises.

The ATX Multiplex has a dedicated pressing, lat machine and squat station. On these separate stations you could perform multiple exercises. For example, on the squat station you can do standing calf raises and lunges.

On the other hand, the ATX Triplex multi gym has one station. By making the necessary adjustments you can train chest, back and arms. By wheeling the bench out of the way, you train legs.

Are Multi Gyms good for Building Muscle?

There are so many multi gyms on the market. Their designs differ greatly. So does the quality. Therefore, it is very hard to make a blanket statement here.

A cheap cable multi gym is garbage. If you are serious about training, I cannot recommend strongly enough to avoid these. The exercises are often not biomechanically correct. Whether it be poor range of motion or just an awkward feel – you often can’t properly target the muscle you want to hit.

That is not the main problem. The poor-quality construction leads pulley and cable failure. We have made a business out of supplying replacement pulleys and cables. It is not uncommon for someone to spend $300+ replacing failed components.

If you are going to buy a cable multi gym, make sure it is good quality and then you will have a chance to build some muscle. However, make sure that you get one that you can do some quality compound movements – pressing, rowing and a leg press. Progressing on these exercises will be your best chance of gaining some size.

The draw back with a quality cable multi gym will be the price.

The best value option for a multi gym to build serious muscle is a leverage style multi gyms. The ATX Triplex and Multiplex are some of the best in the world. You can do compound exercises with plenty of weight. The movement of the exercises feel just like a machine from the gym.

The only drawback is that you must change weight plates. This will not be an issue if you are aiming for muscle growth. After a heavy set of bench presses you will need to have a break. You will only pack on muscle if you are pushing your body to grow.

What exercises can you do on a Multi Gym?

The exercises that you can perform on multi gym will depend on the brand and type you purchase. If you are serious about training, then get a decent gym. A quality pressing station, lat/row and leg press or squat option is a must in my opinion. These movements are what will deliver the best results.

If these stations are present, you can usually perform quality variations on those stations. For example, on the lat/row you should be able to train biceps, triceps and shoulders.

Before you get your wallet out, I would strongly recommend you confirm what exercises your multi gym can do. Ideally it would be beneficial to seem some video. First to see if you can perform the stated exercises in the correct fashion. Secondly to see if you can some decent weight.

Are Multi Gyms hard to assemble?

Some multi gyms like the ATX Triplex gym are relatively easy to build. The instructions are done by Germans (in English too) and are very logical making them easy to follow. If you have assembled some flat pack furniture in your time you will be right with this.

The Multiplex is a bigger gym and takes longer to build. The assembly is more complex. Once again if you had some assembly experience and take your time it is not that bad. If you can rope in a mate or two and feed them a couple of beers it is a great Saturday afternoon project.

The Smith Cable Racks are more complex and if you are not confident, I would definitely recommend some assistance.

The hardest multi gyms to assemble are the multi station cable gyms. Not only are they complicated and time consuming to build, once you have finished the structure you have to run the cables!

Why buy a Multi Gym?

If you don’t like training with barbells, smith machines or dumbbells, then a multi gym would be your best bet. Performing barbell and dumbbell exercises do take time to nail the form. Plus, there is more set up time involved.

Properly designed multi gyms – like the ATX Triplex and Multiplex – get you into the right position for the desired exercise. The leverage format is a lot quicker to master. This way you can get to adding more weight quicker.

A four-station gym like the ATX Multiplex allows multiple people to train at once. It is just like have a mini gym. This is particularly handy in a family situation.