Multi-Gym Fitness Machines
for Home Gyms



Fitness machines fall into two separate categories: 1) resistance equipment for strength and muscle building, and 2) cardio machines, such as treadmills and ellipticals. There can be some conditioning overlap, but each type has its primary purpose.

This section is about resistance machines for strength and muscle building, and which ones may be practical for home gyms. It doesn’t cover the many isolation exercise machines found in most commercial health clubs.

Strength building fitness machines use different means of providing resistance. Gravity, elastic or rubber bands, hydraulics, and weight stacks are among them.

Practically any barbell or dumbbell exercise can be duplicated, or come close to being duplicated, using a well designed resistance machine. For all around fitness purposes, a multi-gym machine may make sense for some home trainees. Most pieces are compact and some are even collapsible for convenient storing.

They are not, however, devices for competitive bodybuilders or weight lifters for their regular training. Their specific goals require heavy free weights.

At the bottom of the page, I’ll list some well known fitness machines. Some of them are advertised on TV. Don’t condemn them on that basis. Some actually perform as well as they claim. The silly infomercial devices that are just a waste of money are not on the list.

My personal preferences are for machines that incorporate cables and in some instances bands. They have a more free weights feel to them. That is, they don't only move on a fixed plane, upward and downward or forward and backward (a Smith machine, for example). Cables and bands, on the other hand, move in all directions, thus bringing into play stabilizer muscles, and I believe a better workout.

Prices can begin as low as $100 for a quality set of elastic bands (although I probably shouldn’t categorize them as an exercise machine). A reasonable amount to pay for a good multi-gym machine that will work all the major muscle groups is from $500 to $1000. Paying more than that takes you into the category of commercial grade machines, or you may be paying for bells and whistles that may not be necessary.

(However, with treadmills and ellipticals for cardiovascular work, paying more usually means greater reliability. It is often worth it.)

I have used most of the machines on the list in at least a limited way, simply to get the feel of them. Your conclusions about some models may be different than mine.

My final word of advice is to try out the multi-gym machine that appeals to you before you buy one. Or find out if there is a return policy, in the event that you get it home, try it, and don’t like it.

The following are resistance machines that may be appropriate for your home gym . . .

  • Universal Machine
  • Band Flex
  • Total Gym
  • Smith Machine
  • Resistance Bands
  • Bowflex
  • Weider Crossbow
  • Soloflex


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