Best multi-gym 2021: full-body workout machines for your home gym

Is the best multi-gym the ultimate home workout purchase? It’s certainly one of the most versatile ones

The best multi-gym is an all-encompassing home gym equipment
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The best multi-gym – or best home gym for them American folks – is an essential part of the best home gym setup. A multi-gym is a self-contained workout unit, and although this type of fitness equipment can be rather sizeable, it can also provide a full-body workout in the comfort of your home. Usually, you can perform loads of exercises using multi gyms, no wonder they are so popular.

If you've got limited space at home but would still like to see some muscular development and strength gains, the multi-gym could be the answer. Plus, if you speak to any fitness expert worth their 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 many features into an extremely compact get-up, with the ability to adjust various sliders 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.

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Best multi-gyms, in order of preference

The NordicTrack Fusion CST is T3's top choice for best multi-gymT3 Award

1. NordicTrack Fusion CST

Super high-tech machine for versatile workouts

Specifications
Type: Cable machine
Weight bench included: No
Max resistance: No information available
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?

Read more about the Fucion CST here: Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE vs NordicTrack Fusion CST

The Life Fitness G7 Multi Gym is the most versatile "traditional" multi-gymT3 Award

2. Life Fitness G7 Multi Gym

The most versatile "traditional" multi-gym

Specifications
Type: Cable machine
Weight bencg included: Yes
Max resistance: 161 lbs (73 kg) per cable
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 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.

The Bowflex PR1000 Home Gym offers a quiet workout experience thanks to its Power Rod systemT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Bowflex)

3. Bowflex PR1000 Home Gym

Best quiet multi gym

Specifications
Type: Bowflex's Power Rod system
Weight bench included : Yes
Max resistance: 210 lbs (95 kg)
Reasons to buy
+Unique Power Rod system is quieter than standard weight stacks+Bowflex quality+Adjustable bench
Reasons to avoid
-Bending rod-technology is not to everyone's taste-Switching between weights is more effort than using a pin on a weight stack

The Bowflex PR1000 is a multi-gym that's equally as capable as it's weird (at first anyway). Unlike traditional home gyms that use a weight stack, the PR1000 uses Bowflex's Power Rod system which is essentially an arrangement of bendy metal rods that provide resistance as you try to bend them. The more rods you're trying to bend in the same time, the harder it gets, simple.

The idea might be simple but the execution is anything but. Operating the rods is only marginally more difficult than using a pin on a weight stack: you just need to clip the carabiner the desired rod and off you go.

One thing worth mentioning is that although the maximum resistance of the PR1000 multi gym is 95 kg (standard multi gym weight stack is around 70 kilo), due to the bendy nature of the rods, the resistance is expressed gradually. It's like doing curls with resistance bands: it'll be easier to pull them at the beginning than it's at the end of the motion.

Don't let this put you off though. The resistance might not be constant but the muscles are worked nevertheless and as I mentioned above, the Power Rod system is way better for a home gym environment than a traditional multi-gym, not to mention, you will be able to perform over 26 exercises, including bench press, lat pulldown and more using the Bowflex PR1000 Home Gym.

The MuscleSquad Phase 2 Quarter Rack & Pulley system is the best cheap multi-gym

(Image credit: MuscleSquad)

4. MuscleSquad Phase 2 Quarter Rack & Pulley

Best cheap multi gym

Specifications
Type: power tower/cable machine hybrid
Weight bench included: No
Max resistance: N/A
Reasons to buy
+Extremely versatile+Hooks and spotter arms rated to 286 kg
Reasons to avoid
-Bench is extra...-... So is the weight plates

The MuscleSquad Phase 2 Quarter Rack with Pulley is a bit different from the multi gyms above as this one is more of a started pack as opposed to a complete setup. Here, you have a a heavy-duty freestanding rack that can hold up to 286 kg of weight but said weight is not included in the price, nor is a weight bench.

That said, this rack is a can provide a lot of versatility for your workouts, especially if you like heavy compound exercises such as the bench press or squats. This bad boy also has a high and low pulley system, a landmine attachment and a pull-up bar with various regular and cannonball grips. Sweet.

Included in the price is a plate-loaded cable pulley system (rated to 70 kg), a cannonball grip chin-up attachment (rated to 120 kg), a bar storage, two weight plate storage poles, two monolift attachments, two J hooks (rated to 286 kg in total), two spotter arms (also rated to 286 kg), a lat pulldown bar attachment and a curl bar attachment.

Practically, this one unit can form the backbone of your home gym setup, all you have to do is shop a barbell, some weight plates plus a weight bench and you're all set.

The Weider 8700 is a chunky multi gym unit for crafting chunky human unitsT3 Award

5. Weider 8700I Multi Gym

Chunky multi gym unit for crafting chunky human units

Specifications
Type: Cable machine
Weight bench included: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Solid build+Hefty weight stack
Reasons to avoid
-It's heavy (duh)

With a 57 kg 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. 

The Bowflex PR3000 Home Gym is a smarter home multi-gymT3 Award

6. Bowflex PR3000 Home Gym

The smarter home multi-gym

Specifications
Type: Bowflex's Power Rod system
Weight bench included: Yes
Reasons to buy
+No noisy weight stack+Super compact
Reasons to avoid
-Feels a bit weedy-Fiddly to upgrade Power Rod System

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. 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 several 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 enable users to carry out natural feeling squats for mega glutes, hamstrings and quad muscles.

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.

Low angle view of a weight stack of a multi-gym machine

(Image credit: Getty Images)

How to buy the best multi-gym

Multi-gyms cover several 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 the entry-but-not-rubbish level to more complex and sturdier versions at about £1,500.

The main considerations you must make are how much space you have to spare at home, how much time you have to assemble the thing, how heavy the weight stack should be 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 movement 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.

Expanding your home gym? Have a look at the best treadmills, best exercise bikes, best rowing machine guides and get more informed about home cardio equipment than ever before.

Where to buy the best multi-gyms/home gyms right now

You can also browse the following retailers’ selections for inspiration: