The best home gym 2020

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The rise in popularity of Crossfit and other hybrid fitness workouts has seen a handful of hench folk transform their garage or patio area into some kind of industrial Marine boot camp.

At this time of year, when the will to shed some additional pounds is strong, the temptation to follow suit could prove a little too much for some. Old tractor tyres, hammers, ropes, Olympic squat racks and colossal kettlebells are just a few items that one might find in a typical shrine to competitive fitness sport, but you don’t have to go down this route.

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 (not you, Bowflex) 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.

What is the best home gym?

If we’re talking about a good blend of build quality and budget, it is very difficult to ignore the Marcy Eclipse HG3000, but the absolute best, without spending absolutely stupid money, is the recently updated Life Fitness G7.

It costs a packet but this really is gym-quality machinery for the home, with dual weight stacks, some 20 pulley adjustments per column and a chin-up/pull-up bar covering every muscle group and fitness base imaginably.

Admittedly, you’ll need a Bruce Wayne-sized man-cave to house this thing but it will be all you’ll ever need to tone, sculpt and hone that dream bod.

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… but that’s just silly.

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.

The best home gym setups, in order

1. Life Fitness G7 Multi Gym

Reasons to buy

+Comprehensive workout+Massive weight stack+Gym-quality

Reasons to avoid

A tad on the large side

One way to ensure you receive a gym-quality workout is to purchase the sort of equipment that resides in your local fitness center 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-meters tall, around two-meters 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.

2. NordicTrack Fusion CST

Super high-tech machine for versatile workouts

Reasons to buy

+Looks great+Interactive training+Good for HIIT workouts

Reasons to avoid

Resistance levels are limited

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?

3. Marcy Eclipse HG3000

Best, more affordable and compact home gym

Reasons to buy

+Excellent build quality+Compact dimensions

Reasons to avoid

68kg weight stack is a bit light

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 makes 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.

4. Adidas Home Rig

Best home gym for bodyweight exercises

Reasons to buy

+Great for functional strength+Caters for legs

Reasons to avoid

Ugly and bulkyNo weights included

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 via the lat pulldown bar, straight bar, dual foam-padded hand grips, and ankle strap.

There are also numerous height adjustable bars for help when squatting big mass and racks for assisting with heavy curls.

While the rig does come with six weight plate storage bars with Olympic plate attachments and spring collars, you will have to purchase the actual weight plates separately, which could get expensive. However, at least it means you can get exactly the weight spread you want.

You’ll also want to invest in a decent barbell to make the most of the squat rack and safety rods, as well as a decent bench for upper body exercises. Just as well the rig itself is relatively affordable, then.

5. Weider 8700

Chunky unit for crafting chunky units

Reasons to buy

+Solid build+Hefty weight stack

Reasons to avoid

It’s heavy (duh)

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 space typically required by free weights and barbells.

6. Bowflex Xtreme SE Home Gym

The smarter home multi-gym

Reasons to buy

+No noisy weight stack+Super compact

Reasons to avoid

Feels a bit weedyFiddly to upgrade Power Rod System

Rather than relying on a heavy and noisy weight stack, this clever home gym utilizes 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 simply shaping up as opposed to bulking up, is your priority, it could be right for you.

7. BH Fitness Multi Gym Plus Titanium Foldable

The most convenient home multi-gym

Reasons to buy

+Space-saving foldable design+Great value

Reasons to avoid

Some areas lack the sturdiness

Although not as robust as some of the other machines on this list, the mouthful that is the BH Fitness Multi Gym Plus Titanium Foldable does save a lot of space at home with its uniquely retractable seat.

Featuring a smooth, linear bearing system and ultra-tough pulleys, this 92kg multi-gym can handle users that weigh over 20 stone, it provides up to 67kg of resistance and offers up a multitude of exercise options.

Unfortunately, some of the ancillaries feel a bit cheap and the comparatively low resistance weight stack won’t be able to compete with some of the chunkier models but as a starting platform to any burgeoning home gym, it’s well worth a look.

8. Technogym Unica

The best luxe multi-gym for the home

Reasons to buy

+Only the finest materials+Impressive weight stack

Reasons to avoid

Decidedly premium

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 allows 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 finishes to the frame sets off the fussily stylish aesthetic.

And so it should, because with a price tag of around 5K, although those muscles might come easy, they won’t come cheap.

9. Opti 29KG Home Multi Gym

Best budget multi-gym

Reasons to buy

+It’s really cheap

Reasons to avoid

Lacks weightNot the smoothest operator

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.


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