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When imagining an ideal gym setup, the image which often springs to mind is one of the classic home multi gyms. This complete muscle building, body toning and fat burning behemoth is often considered king of home gym setups – and there are plenty of reasons for this.
To make life easier for you (because we love you – you know that, right?!), we’ve done all the research to save you the time. So here is the Fitness Savvy Multi Gym Buying Guide, in all its informative savvy glory. Grab yourself a coffee (or tea, water, protein shake or gin – if that’s your thing), put your feet up and have a good old read.
An Introduction to Multi Gyms
Once upon a time, there was a guy called Jim. Before you ask, no, he did not invent the multi-gym. But that would make a fantastic story, wouldn’t it! Anyway, let’s get back on track with the important stuff so you can improve your knowledge and make the right choice!
With a huge range of products available, shopping for the right multi gym can prove daunting. When deciding on which one is right for you, these are the attributes and features which should be considered.
Types of Multi Gym
When you begin your quest to find the perfect multi-gym you’ll find there’s a wide selection to choose from. So, to get you started, here are some of the more common terms and phrases you are likely to come across:
Single station multi gyms – these don’t take up as much space, and are more affordable options. A great place to start for those on a budget or who are new to training. In the single station arena, you will find things like leg curl machines, lever rowing machines and dipping stations. Pros, as mentioned are cost and space, cons are that they are limited – both in terms of exercises you can perform and scope for upgrading.
Dual station & multi-station multi gyms – comprising of multiple areas, a wider selection of exercises can be performed on these machines. Often, you will find there are extra weight stacks which allow multiple users to train at once. As you would expect, these tend to be more expensive than the single station options. Pro’s are that you can perform a wider range of exercises when you train, and that they are upgradeable with multi gym accessories. Con’s are that they take up more space and can be costlier.
Functional trainers – if you are serious about your training, you have space, and the budget, you will probably be more interested in these bad boys. They’re versatile machines, featuring two height-adjustable cable columns. Each column has its own weight stack allowing for many exercises that will improve core strength, body balance and overall stability. Personally, I would love one of these in my gym, so I could do awesome exercises like cable flys. But the con’s – space and cost – are holding me back. The benefits speak for themselves – so much you can do with these awesome machines.
Multi Gym Key Features
Weight Stack – if you’re just starting out, you will want something that allows you to begin on a low weight – around 5kg or 10lb. But as you advance, you will need to ensure that you don’t outgrow the multi-gym. For this reason, you should either look for a gym with a large weight stack (100kg/220lb) or one which you can upgrade by adding extra stacks as you increase in strength. Cheaper models will come with vinyl weight plate, whereas the better-quality model plates are made of cast iron. The difference? Cast iron weight stacks offer a smoother range of motion and are more durable.
Cables & Pulleys – this is probably the last thing on your mind, but I can tell you from experience that the cheaper PVC coated cables (or wire rope, as it is sometimes called) and plastic bushings won’t last long. These lower quality components also create friction which can make the weight feel heavier. Grinding, squeaking and shaking are the results, so certainly something worth considering. Look for machines with nylon coated galvanised steel wire, or if the budget allows, aircraft cable coated with black pressure-extruded nylon.
Build Quality – we’re probably stating the obvious here, but a better quality multi gym will be built with a higher standard parts and components, and will – in most cases – cost more. Better built models will come with heavy gauge tubing, solid welds and steel frames. A good way of broadly determining build quality is by the maximum user weight. Those with a higher max weight tend to be more sturdily manufactured.
How to Use a Multi Gym Safely
Your personal safety is highly important when operating multi-gym equipment – or any fitness equipment, for that matter.
Weight stacks are often used in multi gyms. These can be hazardous if adequate precautions are not taken. This is because there is a risk of crushing. Be vigilant when adjusting the pin as not to trap your hand between the weights. If you have toddlers, or young children, ensure that they are kept away from the multi gym at all times. You can purchase a shroud for the weight stack to protect when not in use. This is certainly recommended if you have children.
We advise you to consult your doctor before starting any kind of exercise or workout programme to minimise chances of, or to prevent injury.
Other Factors to Consider When Buying a Multi Gym
A few things we thought are worth mentioning. They might sound silly, at first, but believe us when we say – many people have spent a lot of money on a multi-gym, only to find that – for whatever reason – they could not use it
Dimensions – sounds silly, but really – you must check the width, height and depth of the multi gyms you’re considering buying. Measure the space you want to use, and look at the dimensions. On the Fitness Savvy website, we have tried to include as many specs as we could, but remember, manufacturers and retailers are constantly changing models, and even a small change to dimensions on a new production run could mean the item does not fit as required.
Space – following on from dimensions, don’t buy something that will “just about” fit in the dedicated space. Always allow several inches each side of the multi-gym. If in doubt, take a look at the manufacturer’s website to see if there is anything else need to know. A classic example is that the item is one width at the bottom, but actually wider at the top. Keep this in mind
Your height/weight – if you’re standard height you should be okay. What’s standard height, I hear you cry… well if people often say – “Crikey, you’re tall!” or call you “shorty”, chances are, you’re not standard size. If the multi gym does not have adjustable seats you might be too short or too tall to use it comfortably. If you’re wider than the average bear – be that super buff, or maybe carrying extra weight that you’re looking to shed (with your brand new, shiny multi-gym), then the machine might be too narrow for you – defeating the whole point of it!
If you are pressed for space, or don’t have the budget, there are plenty of other options for you to consider for your home gym. If you have the budget, but available space is limited, you should check out adjustable dumbbells. While more expensive than their interchangeable siblings, they are more cost-effective than purchasing a whole set, and take up very little space.
Our Final Words
Exercising has a ton of health benefits. That’s what we want to promote, here at Fitness Savvy. Cardio is great; however, resistance training is an absolute necessity for improving body composition, increasing insulin sensitivity and upgrading your overall general health.
And what better way than with a multi-gym, where you can perform complete body workouts from the comfort of your own home?
We could go on all day about what you should, could or might look for in the perfect multi-gym, or what we would recommend for this, or for that. But we haven’t got all week to write it, you haven’t got all day to read it, and we want to keep this as short and sweet as possible. Just remember to look for a product that suits your size, is safe for you and your kids or pets (if you have them) and has enough weight to keep you going.