Multi Gym & Home Gym Buyers Guide

A lot of people come to us looking to set up an awesome home gym – it’s one of the things we do best after all.

Perhaps, like them, you have put aside space in the spare room or garage, and are keen to scope out the best options for equipment to fit the area.  

We often recommend that a multi gym could the perfect option. Here’s why.

What is a multi gym?

Multi-gyms (sometimes referred to as “home gyms”) are extremely popular due to the vast array of strength exercises that can be performed on just one machine.  

They may have weights, rods, resistance bands, pulleys and handles so you can work just about every muscle group. Mid-range multi gyms will allow you to do an average of 30 exercises. That’s amazing value for money.

Here is what a multi gym can look like in action: 

This video is of an Inspire M3 MultiGym which is on the high-end of the price scale. But it gives you an idea of how many exercises they can do, all in one. 

Aside from budgets, choosing the right machine will come down to your fitness level and goals.

The range of requirements we see is huge; from serious bodybuilders after hard-core cable machines and large weights, to someone with an injury who wants a rehab-focused workout, or an elderly person who wants to maintain fitness, or an experienced gym-goer who is setting up a home gym.

If you’re in the latter category this page is a good starting point. If you have needs that aren’t “standard” – still do come and chat to us about specialised options.

Multi gym benefits

If you’re on this page, you’re no doubt tempted by some the advantages to having a home gym – but what about the cons?

Pros:

  • flexibility to work out in your own time
  • buying equipment is generally more cost-effective than joining a gym in the long term
  • more private
  • no waiting to get on machines
  • no grubby sweat all over machines left by random strangers  
  • save on travel costs
  • you can blast those speakers as loud as you like.

Cons:

  • short term set up cost of new machinery and initial overheads can get pricey
  • you need physical space available in your home or garage
  • you’ll need to do a few things to maintain your machine
  • you probably won’t have access to as much equipment as a full-scale gym (although most machines have a surprising array of exercises!)
  • you have to understand how to ‘change things up’ and tweak your exercises – both for physical advancement but also to overcome any lack of motivation (we will help with that!)
  • the neighbours may complain about the music blasting out the window.

How much space will a multi-gym machine take up?

This is a big concern for many people. It’s probably not helpful for us to say, ‘how long is a piece of string?’. But the thing is, multi gyms can come in many shapes, sizes and heights.

But let’s work on averages so you can get an idea. 

Ideally you’ll need a space that allows for the machine to be erected and used easily – around 4×4 metres works for most multi gym machines.

You’ll need some space around the machine for ‘breathing room’ and some decent airflow if it’s a small room.

What to consider when buying a multi gym

Everyone wants fast results. So choosing a multi-gym that has a decent variety of strength exercises to keep training interesting and maximise results in the quickest time is a priority.

What exercises should multi gym cover?

You’ll want a machine to work on each main muscle group. Most multi gyms will at least feature these basics, that cover a range of exercise movements:

  • Pulldown (for arm / chest / back etc)
  • Leg extensions
  • Low pulley points (for bicep, tricep, shoulders etc)

But as you will discover, there are heaps of exercises on each machine – customers are always surprised at how they transform.

Best multi gyms by price

Pricing on multi gyms out there varies from between $400 through to $8000. That’s a big range! So what is the difference between them and is it worth paying the extra cash?

Multi gyms under $700

To put it bluntly, we would advise against purchasing any multi-gym under $700.

They will more than likely be constructed out of a very thin framework, have inferior pulleys and cables, connection points on the arms and frame will be weak and will flex under loading.

All of these factors mean your movements will be hugely inefficient, which is bad for your progress.

It’s also potentially dangerous for you (physical injury can come with bad machinery). Plus, it’s hard on the wallet long-term if you need to fix broken mechanics and fixtures.

Multi gyms $700 to $1500 range

Most multi-gyms within this standard price range offer similar exercise options – that is, the “basics” for the main muscle groups as outlined above.

At the more pricey end of the scale, you’re essentially investing in more helpful features such as a seat height adjustment for better positioning, adjustable chest arm and pivoting back pad to allow for seated row, stronger tubing, better pulley systems, steel weight stacks instead of plastic, and better upholstery that will last.

We think these extra additions are worth it. The ability to make more personalised tweaks to your position mean a more comfortable workout for starters, but importantly you’ll get more effective movement and therefore better results.  

We’ve seen a lot of multi-gym machines on the market come and go over the years in this price bracket. Based on this experience we’d recommend international brands such as Marcy. They’ve been around for over 35 years for a reason, and have cornered the multi-gym market by offering great quality and great design for a reasonable price. A big tick in our books! 

Best option: Marcy Club 200lb Home Gym

 

Multi gyms $1500 and above range

Multi-gyms at this price point and above have a unique advantage. It all comes down to efficiency, build quality and biomechanics.

Manufacturers of these home gyms build them exceptionally strong with only the highest grade steel*. And they design the nifty pulleys and cables to enable unbelievably smooth movements and position the user into the best angle for the efficiency of movement.

Here are few important things to consider:

The Strength Curve:

Every muscle can be tracked while exercising by what is called the ‘strength curve’, a graphical representation of muscles working.

Basically this means that because of joint angles, the resistance or tension of an exercise isn’t constant – there are weak and strong points. The changing tension is depicted by a curved line. 

If the resistance applied to the muscle during the movement can match this curve then the exercise will be much more effective. 

Multi-gyms under $1500 don’t match the strength curve, multi gyms above $1500 do.

There are different ways in which the resistance can be applied to match the strength curve;

Rod technology:

Rods help to make an exercise very smooth, so there are no weights banging together, and also it’s nice and quiet to use. The rod technology has an elasticated feel rather than weight-lifting feel.

Bowflex, in particular, is a great company who has mastered this.

Best option: Bowflex 2SE Home Gym

 

Body weight resistance:

Weight plates are expensive to manufacture and difficult for the end user to manage. Designers of the top multi-gyms have come up with technology that allows you to use your own body mass as a weight plate. The movements feel exceptionally smooth.

Best option: Inspire BL1 Gym

 

Machined weight plates:

Most multi gyms will have weight plates in some form. But when they are engineered to glide smoothly and are attached to state of the art pulleys and cables that maximise the way the weight is applied, this means that you’re getting a more efficient and safe work out.

The aim of top USA brands is biomechanical perfection, and brands like Inspire Fitness are at the pinnacle of technology.

Best option: Inspire M2 Multi Gym

Best multi gym brands

Purchasing a multi-gym from an established, recognised USA brand such as Marcy, Inspire Fitness, Bowflex, or our own range of Elite Fitness multi gyms means that you are buying a more effective workout, quality gear that lasts, excellent after-sales service and importantly, peace of mind.

Top brands offer the assurance that the development, innovation, and testing of their multi gyms are of the highest international standards.

The brands we stock are responsible for hundreds of patents and are continually striving to design and engineer products that are at the cutting edge.

Their quality is also reflected in their outstanding warranties.

 

Online workout programmes

A few years ago the top brands (including us) would give customers a glossy workout poster with their new purchase. Picture the athletic ‘nineties’ models donning leg warmers, displaying a few standard exercises. Although it could be argued that a vintage poster is still a good addition to a home gym wall, thankfully today there’s a myriad of digital options to help take your training to another level.

Trusted companies such as Bowflex and Inspire Fitness have pioneered the trend to serve up insightful and educational workout apps to support and really inspire users to get the most out of their machines.  

When you’re considering a purchase, always ask about what additional programmes come with it. This could really make or break your commitment once you’re all set up at home, and help to tweak and charge-up your workouts. 

Multi Gym installation

All of our multi gyms are easy to erect. You are given full instructions and you will have the support of our Elite team as well. 

If you would still like some help we will do our best to arrange installation, for a small fee. We should also say (disclaimer alert) that it may depend on where you are based, but generally if your home is near one of our stores we will get someone over, pronto.

Multi gyms compared to other strength machines

Multi gym or Power Rack? Or Smith Machine? Or Functional Trainer? These are questions we get asked regularly.

Generally these machines are for the more serious strength training enthusiasts out there. These machines will also take up a lot more space. Some of the other main differences are:

Multi gyms versus Functional Trainer:

  • both good if you don’t like free weights
  • functional trainer has smooth motion
  • functional trainer will likely be more expensive

Multi Gyms versus Power Racks and Smith Trainers:

  • the latter are used mainly for quads and glutes, and can handle a lot more weight than a multi gym
  • you’ll need space for heavy weight attachments.

Servicing and warranties

When buying a multi-gym make sure the retailer or supplier can service and support your product for years to come.

Please be wary of the “cowboys” out there. We see a lot of cheaply advertised products with little to no after sales support. Always buy from a reputable source that can offer parts and service from experienced and qualified technicians.

The top USA brands usually offer a ten-year warranty, and two-year parts warranty.

Manufacturing warranties from leading brands like those we choose to stock reflect the highest grade and standard of componentry incorporated with their products – as they are required to meet strict European standards such as CE, GS, TUV, ROHS, IS9001.

But having said that, don’t rely on the warranty information alone as a safeguard. The company selling the product still needs to able to support the purchaser for the duration of the warranty.

So do your homework and ask loads of questions. And have a look at independent customer reviews online as well. 

Try before you buy at any Elite Fitness store

We encourage you to try as many multi gyms as possible before making the leap. Testing them out will help you to make the right choice for your personal exercise goals.

You’ll get a good feel for each machine and each of their fitness components.

It’s also a safer option to pop in and have a trial, as knowledgeable staff can give you tips and insights to fit your abilities and they can talk you through how to use each component safely.

So grab the activewear and pop on in for a no-pressure chat with us today.

Written by Elite Fitness Team,

November 13, 2018