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Multi Gym Buying Guide

The first single station gyms originated in commercial health clubs around the mid 20th century but it wasn’t until the early 1960’s – 70’s when Walter Marcyan pioneered the first automatic barbell that enabled you to perform dozens of exercises with the simple change of a single pin. Developing on this he went on to construct the first compact multi gym patented the ‘all in one’. From there they were adapted by numerous manufacturers across the globe gradually becoming cheaper and more compact so that home gyms are now a viable option for almost anyone.

Most designs operate from a single solitary weight stack normally positioned toward the rear of the gym; the weight can be quickly adjusted by changing the level of the pin selector. As soon as a push or pull motion is initiated from one of the workout stations a series of pulleys and cables lift the selected weight from the rest of the stack to generate resistance.

Different Types

The most common multi gym would have to be the simple single station with single weight stack design but others are available such as dual stations, multi stations, functional trainers and leverage machines. Gyms vary massively in price, appearance and the range of exercise options available with each one, the market is huge so picking the perfect machine can be tricky, you should consider what you want to get from the machine like the size of the weight stack, exercise range and durability. By the end of this guide though you should be able to pick out the men from the boys.

The single station style home gyms can appeal to starters and advanced users depending on how much you spend, they are likely the most popular because they don’t necessarily take up a lot of space in the home and can be very affordable.

Dual stations or multi stations feature more than one exercise area and sometimes have more than one weight stack to allow for multiple users at the same time. They do take up more space but can feature additional highly effective exercises like either a leg press or a pull up station for example which can save you having to buy an extra piece of equipment further down the line.

Functional trainers are versatile pieces of equipment, they feature two height adjustable cable columns each with its own weight stack that provides a huge range of exercises, and some also come with a removable weight bench for greater diversity. They don’t come cheap but if you’re serious about weight training they’re a worthwhile investment.

Leverage machines could be described as either a multi gym or a weight bench; they’re a little bit of a hybrid really. They don’t have a fixed weight stack; instead you simply slide weight plates on or off weight holders for resistance. All of the workout stations are pre-fitted into a fixed plane of motion whether it’s pull or push to replicate exercises like chest press or lat pulldown. The benefit of leverage machines is their safety when training; you can return the weight to its original position with ease no matter the exercise making them perfect for lifting heavy weights at home on your own.

Key Features

Weight Stack

Fundamental to any gym, the weight stack is probably the most important component to get right. Most home gyms use a vinyl weight stack because they keep the price low, more expensive ones will be cast iron but as long as the right amount of weight is there this is not too important.

You have to ensure that you have plenty of weight to allow you to progressively increase your strength because once you reach the maximum weight plate you can’t add anymore. If you’re just starting out look for between 60kg-70kg, intermediate to advanced weight trainers should go for above 80kg. You’re only likely to reach this amount of weight on your compound exercises like chest press or shoulder press but these are vital for consistent muscle growth.

Workout Stations

The right range of exercises can define good workouts from bad ones so you must choose wisely. All conventional multi gyms will follow this set up of stations: chest press, pec dec, high pulley (lat pulldown), low pulley and leg developer. You should have at least these features as a minimum as these will give you a good core group of exercises, if you can afford a gym with a couple of extra options in like a shoulder press option or leg press then we recommend going for it.

Adjustability

Your body must be aligned at the correct level on a gym otherwise it can either exercise muscles you’re not supposed to be doing or even cause injury. To prevent this try and find a machine with a seat height adjustment, some models simply have a fixed seat which is only suitable for users between about 5ft 6’ to 6ft but still not perfect, if you’re below or above these measurements an adjustable seat is a must really.

Pulleys & Cables

They may not be a feature you would really think about or consider when buying a home gym but pulleys and cables play an extremely important role to the operation, cheap models use plastic nylons and bushings with poor cables that add a lot of extra resistance to the weight because of the friction, this makes the selected weight feel heavier than it should. Poor quality also guarantees a juddering, grinding motion making it uncomfortable to train with. For a seamless, smooth feel we stock affordable machines but not cheap ones to avoid this problem. A lot of them even use bearings and most are fitted with 2000lb tensile aircraft cables for long lasting use.

Build Quality

When you’re training you want to be focused and in the right mind set, what you don’t want is to be worrying why your brand new multi gym is wobbling and rattling when you use it. To avoid this you need a good standard of manufacturing with solid welds, steel framework and ideally heavy gauge tubing. The maximum user capacity can be a great way to see how stable a machine is, the heavier the user limit the more stable and durable it should feel.

Benefits

  • Multi gyms are completely safe for training at home alone as they don’t require a spotter reducing the risk of injury through training
  • They have a great range of fundamental exercises; different gym attachments can also be added to increase your exercise range
  • They’re great for starters as most exercises have a fixed path of motion to control your direction
  • Can be more cost effective than an expensive gym membership especially if more than one person is using it you can soon make your money back
  • The convenience of training at home frees up time because you don’t have to travel 
  • It can be more hygienic because you have less people using it unlike a gym where machines are been used relentlessly most of the time
  • Consolidates all of your training into one compact machine to reduce the space it takes up at home
  • Allows you to train in complete peace and privacy so there’s no more waiting around for the machine you want to use
  • Studies show that regular exercise 3-4 times a week help to reduce stress levels and counter the effects of depression thanks to the release of endorphins from working out

Key Exercises

We have listed some basic exercises that you can perform on almost any multi gym to enable you to get the most out of your machine.

Chest Press

Station to use: Chest press station

Muscle Groups: Chest, shoulders and triceps

How to do it: Keep your elbows in tight and don’t flare them out, bring the weight down slowly toward and hold for a second at the bottom before pushing quickly upwards.

Lat Pulldown

Station to use: High pulley with lat bar

Muscle Groups: Upper Lats, Lower Lats, Serratus, Biceps

Note: Keep a wide grip and pull the bar straight down in front of you, squeeze your shoulders blades together at the bottom of the contraction then slowly bring the weight back up.

Lateral Raises

Station to use: Low pulley with d-handle

Muscle Groups: Shoulders (Side deltoid)

How to do it: Stand to the side of the gym and lift the handle straight up to your side away from the machine, keep your arm straight and hold at the top for a second before bringing down slowly in a controlled motion.

Tricep Pushdowns

Station to use: High pulley with straight bar or lat bar

Muscle Groups: Triceps

How to do it: Stand over the gym facing toward it with your arms shoulder width apart on the bar in front of you, push the bar down keeping your elbows locked and tucked in and hold at the bottom for a second before returning to start.

Bicep Curl

Station to use: Low pulley with straight bar

Muscle Groups: Biceps

How to do it: Keep arms straight at the bottom then curl up towards you and hold at the top for a second before returning to the arms straight position.

Ab Crunches

Station to use: High pulley with lat bar

Muscle Groups: Upper abdominals

How to do it: Seated on the gym grab the lat bar with a supinated grip and place behind your neck, next bring your head down toward your knees to contract your abs then return to start.

Leg Extensions

Station to use: Leg developer

Muscle Groups: Quadriceps

How to do it: Hook your legs underneath the foam rollers whilst sat on the gym, simply curl your feet upward so your legs are almost straight and hold for a second before returning to start.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Are they hard to assemble and do you offer an installation service?

Answer: The assembly process depends on the size of the multi gym that you’ve purchased, most single stations will take approximately 4-6 hours but bigger models can take longer than this. We can offer an installation on certain models to certain areas, if you would like a quote for installation please email sales@purefitnessandsports.co.uk with your address and the product you would like.

Question: How do they come delivered?

Answer: For our smaller gyms we do use a 1-man express courier service but for most of our larger models we prefer to use our 2-man room of choice courier to make life a bit easier.

Question: I just want to tone up and lose a bit of weight, how do I train for that?

Answer: For this type of training you need to increase the amount of reps per exercise, for toning and weight loss you want to be doing between 12-15 reps per exercise which will almost create a hybrid cardio weight training effect for you combining the benefits of both.

Question: How do I train just to build muscle mass?

Answer: This requires the opposite method, to gain muscle mass when training you need to decrease your reps to between 6-10 reps and increase the weight. Use large compound exercises like chest press and lat pulldown to start off with and isolation exercises to apply definition. Nutrition is also vital as well; you need to increase your calorie intake with high volumes of protein taken intermittently every 2-3 hours. Results won’t come overnight but with perseverance you will see changes after a month or two.

We hope you have enjoyed reading this buying guide and found the information useful, please feel free to view our multi gym range.