The best multi-gym is not exactly for the faint hearted, or Fitbit step-counting folk. Not to be confused with the best home gym, which can include multiple machines, weights and wall fittings, the best multi gym is a single self contained unit. If you’ve got limited space at home but would still like to see some muscular development and strength gains, the humble home multi-gym could be the answer.
Plus, if you speak to any fitness expert worth his or her salt, they will almost unanimously agree that targeted strength training (when performed properly) is one of the greatest weapons in the war against flab.
These compact lever and pulley systems (and the more sumptuous Bowflex alternative) pack a lot of features into an extremely compact get-up, with the ability to adjust various sliders in order to work a multitude of body parts.
Granted, the spread of weights in the more affordable models might be a limiting factor for some, but it’s amazing the progress that can be made with a multi-gym rig, some well-planned workouts and good form.
Best multi-gyms: supply is short
There is, for obvious reasons, a lot of interest in multi-gyms right now and it has obviously taken brands and retailers by surprise, as many have sold out. To reflect this, we have re-ordered our recommendations to favour the multi-gyms that are actually available to buy at this time.
You can also browse the following retailers’ selections for inspiration:
- USA: Shop for multi gyms at Amazon
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How to buy the best multi-gym
Multi-gyms cover a number of muscle-sculpting bases, with numerous levers, handles and pulley things used to tone and bulk up. As a result, they tend to take up a fair amount of room.
They are also heavy, difficult to set-up and can err on the really bloody expensive side, but for those with the space, patience and budget, they can literally be all you need to obtain that dream body.
Part with upwards of £10k and you will receive a multi-gym that wouldn’t look out of place in a professional establishment.
A still-very-good compact home multi-gym (the kind that works both upper and lower body) can be found from around £600 at entry-but-not-rubbish level to more complex and sturdier versions at about £1,500.
The main considerations you must make is how much space you have to spare at home, how much time you have to assemble the thing, how heavy you need the weight stack to be in order to achieve your fitness goals and how many different muscle groups you want the machine to cater for. Oh, and how fussy you are about the smoothness of the workout.
Insider tip: the more affordable units tend to use cheaper pulley systems and, as a result, the resistance motion can sometimes feel a little jerky and unnatural.
However, the best multi-gyms will offer everything from a lateral pull down to a weighted leg press and pretty much all in between, negating the need to visit a dank and sweaty gym ever again. Bonus.
Second insider tip: make sure your floors can cope with the amount of mass contained within some of the heavier multi-gyms. Repeatedly slamming a weights rack could lead to unexpected falls through the ceiling.
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The best home multi-gyms to buy now
One way to ensure you receive a gym-quality workout is to purchase the sort of equipment that resides in your local fitness centre and slap it in a spare room at home. The Life Fitness G7 multi-gym is a professional-grade setup for private use, featuring hefty dual weight stacks, fully adjustable twin pulleys and the option of a malleable bench that hits several incline and decline settings.
Throw in the chin-up bar and you have an all-encompassing system that has the ability to workout almost every conceivable muscle group in the body. To do so, it measures over two-metres tall, around two-metres wide and the same depth, which is quite a lot of floor space to take up. It’s not cheap either.
However, the US-built contraption is designed and constructed to last for many years and that hefty initial outlay does include free installation, a training DVD with two workout routines, an exercise book with over 60 exercises and a bunch of pulley attachments to ensure you hit every muscle that counts. Also, it removes the need to workout near people. Money well spent, then.
This rig might look like some sort of Elizabethan torture device but it is, in fact, an extremely handy tool for those who like to hit more traditional workouts and build solid bulk.
Designed for functional strength training, the rig caters for bodyweight-based pull-ups and dips, as well as resistance exercises if you had the numerous purely system accessories. There are also numerous height adjustable bars for help when squatting big mass and racks for assisting with heavy curls.
The rig is very basic though and doesn’t come with any sort of weights, as a result, you’ll probably want to add a barbell, weight plates and a bench to make the most of it. Still, it’s awesome for those CrossFit-style, Olympic lift routines that are all the rage right now.
With a 57kg weight stack and a pulley system that equates to a maximum resistance of 150kg on the leg developer pads, this beast from Weider offers great bang for the buck and is great for anyone looking to pile on the mass.
A chunky construction and comfortable pads make up for the fact that the amount of adjustability on the back pad is limited (no flat press here), but it’s still possible to conduct all manner of exercises without the space typically required by free weights and barbells.
Rather than relying on a heavy and noisy weight stack, this clever home gym utilises a bespoke Bowflex Power Rod system that sees a pulley mechanism flex a series of metal rods. The thicker the rod, the higher the resistance and this puppy can deliver the equivalent resistance of a 95kg weight stack without the jerky inertia or risk of joint pain usually associated with free weights.
However, the Bowflex technology doesn’t limit the spread of exercises on offer, with numerous attachments and harnesses allowing for a number of motions to be carried out.
New to the system is an abdominal crunch shoulder harness, which allows the user to physically wear a harness that loads up the resistance for powerful six-pack toning. Other notable features include the three-position lower pulley and squat station that can be used to carry out natural feeling squats for mega glutes, hamstrings and quad muscles.
Better still, the Bowflex Power Rod system can be upgraded to offer more resistance, with the equivalent of 185kg rods available for around £90, although installing these things can be fiddly and time consuming.
Also, those used to a classic, thumping and clunking weight stack will likely find the ‘feel’ of this system a little weedy, but if shaping up, as opposed to bulking up, is your priority, it could be ideal for you.
If money is no object then the Unica from Technogym is well worth a look, as it straddles a fine line between home fitness equipment and piece of contemporary art. With leather pads and the imposing metallic structure available in a number of hues, it practically oozes class, while the ergonomically designed system of levers allow for over 25 exercises to be performed in just 1.5 square meters of space.
All materials used are of exquisite quality, with chrome plating covering many of the levers and handles and a thermosetting powder coating finish to the frame setting off the fussily stylish aesthetic. And the price? Well if paying 5K+ for a multi-gym doesn’t motivate you to use it, I don’t know what will…
If the thought of gigantic, heavy metal machinery is enough to have toes (rather than biceps) curling, then take a look at this basic but perfectly okay multi-gym.
With just 29kg on tap, it’s not for serious iron pumpers, but it makes a great entry into the world of weight training, with enough small incremental increases to ensure development is slow but steady.
Naturally, the frame is going to feel a lot less robust than others on this list but that’s not such a bad thing. It’ll be easier to set up, for one, and its lack of mass means it’s not likely to come crashing through the ceiling during particularly vigorous workouts.
This rather rugged looking contraption is arguably one of the best on this list if you prefer to use free weights and like the benefits felt when lifting barbells, dumbbells or free weights.
Yes, this still features hinges and relatively fixed arms, meaning exercises will be restricted to a certain plane, but it uses Olympic rubber weight discs for resistance, rather than a pulley system.
This will feel more natural to those who perhaps frequent a good gym often, while the numerous settings and set-ups means it is possible to work the entire body using just one piece of equipment.
The arms can be raised for an effective chinning station, or lowered to your preferred height for dips. A low pulley station – complete with a straight bar cable attachment – lets you add rows, bicep curls and more into your routine. Or, work your back, biceps and triceps with the pulldown station, complete with a multi-grip lat bar and durable foam leg hold-down.
It’s a pricey piece of kit, but arguably more accomplished than some of the fancier pulley systems on this list.
is currently out of stock, and NordicTrack CST is not available elsewhere
Although not a traditional multi-gym, this futuristic number from NordicTrack cleverly blends strength-focussed activities HIIT workouts and other forms of cardiovascular fitness. Complete with a 10-inch Android tablet, the brushed silver system also features high-energy LiveCast pre-recorded studio workouts. The personal iFit robo-trainer will automatically adjust the resistance of the machine, ensuring you receive the best workout for you and your goals.
A sleek, versatile design that doesn’t take up too much space and looks badass. What’s not to like?
• Currently sold out
The first thing you notice about the robust Marcy Eclipse is the excellent build quality for the price, with the provided tensile aircraft cables (able to withstand up to 2000lb of pressure) offering peace of mind to anyone worried about the machine falling apart mid-rep.
This quality is carried through to the padded seat, comfortable foam leg rollers and cool black and red paint job that make it look a little bit like the hot hatch of the multi-gym market.
The unit also comes complete with a number of attachments that allow for numerous exercises to be performed back-to-back with little adjustment or mid-session faff.
For example, the free-floating arm levers can be used to perform a seated bench press and pectoral fly, or tucked away and the overhead high pulley used for triceps push-downs and wide lat pull-downs.
And if you don’t know what any of the above meant, there’s a handy exercise chart located above the weight stack for reference.
Granted, that 68kg weight stack may restrict progression once the guns really start popping and will likely be too feeble for a number of leg-based exercises, but it is a solid all-rounder nonetheless.
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