An all-in-one home gym can be a good solution for your home gym. You really want to buy the right one though. How much resistance does a multi-station home gym provide and is that enough for a good workout?
On average all-in-one home gyms offers 180 lbs. of resistance. Home gym resistance ranges from 110lbs. to 330lbs before upgrades. A young adult male needs a multi gym that offers 200-250 lbs. of resistance. A middle aged woman only needs about 150 lbs. of resistance.
What’s the difference between different models and what are your options if the resistance is too light? Keep reading to find out.
Multi-station gym resistance list
Here is a list of 28 models of all in one gyms and how much resistance they can provide. This is the resistance not necessarily the weight of the stack. More on that later.
Some models can be upgraded with extra weight. Usually a few extra weight plates but it can also be different rods in the case of BowFlex. That’s why there are two columns with resistance. One is the standard resistance the machine comes with. The second one is the total resistance including upgrade. If there is no upgrade available, the second column is left empty.
|Brand||Model||Resistance type||Max Resistance (Standard)||Max Resistance (Upgrade)|
|Total gym||Elevate Encompass||Body weight||Adj. % of Bodyweight|
|Total gym||GTS||Body weight||Adj. % of Bodyweight|
|Total gym||XLS||Body weight||Adj. % of Bodyweight|
|Argos||Men's Health 90kg||Weight stack||231|
|Life Fitness||G4 Home Gym||Weight stack||160||210|
|Life Fitness||G2 Home Gym||Weight stack||160||210|
|BodyCraft||Xpress pro 200 lbs.||Weight stack||200||400|
|Body Solid||BSG10X||Weight stack||160|
|Body Solid||Fusion 500||Weight stack||210||310|
|Body Solid||G6BR||Weight stack||210||260|
|Body Solid||G1S||Weight stack||160|
|Gold's Gym||XR 55||Weight stack||330|
|Gold's Gym||XR 45||Weight stack||210|
|Best Fitness||Sportsman||Weight stack||150|
As you can see, the average maximum resistance of a multi gym is about 180 lbs. The resistances range from 110 lbs. to 330 lbs. in standard form. 110 lbs. really isn’t enough for most people but it depends on what your goals are.
For significant muscle building, you want about 200 lbs. to have some room for growth. In the beginning you might not need that much resistance but if you follow a good workout program, you might be surprised how quickly you build up new strength and muscle.
Many brands offer a weight upgrade for people that need a little bit extra. Most brands offer a 50 lbs. upgrade option. Some go a bit further and have a 100lbs. upgrade available. However, BowFlex takes it to the next levels by having the option to almost double the original resistance.
An honorable mention goes to the BodyCraft Xpress Pro. That machine can double the weight to 400 lbs. by adding a leg press extension. That resistance is only available for the leg press and bench press however.
Adding resistance to your home gym
If you already have a home gym and ran into the limits of it’s resistance, is there anything you can do? There are a few options although sometimes you won’t be able to get that much extra resistance. Which options you have really depends on your specific model though.
I’ve written a whole article on how you can add extra weight to a weight stack. Click here to find it.
The article linked above is about any gym machine with a weight stack. Let’s look at the options for multi-gyms specifically.
The only machines that use resistance rods are BowFlex. The good thing is that those rods are pretty easily upgraded. Most Bowflex home gyms come with 210 lbs. resistance rods. But most models are quite easily upgraded to 410 lbs. To get to 410 lbs. you’ll have to buy two upgrade kits. First the 310 lbs. one, then the 410 lbs. kit. Of course you can buy both at the same time but be aware you need both.
Most home gyms besides bowflex have weight stacks. A weight stack is often not upgradable although some models do have that option. Contact the manufacturer of your multi-gym to see what the options are. If there is a heavier stack available, that’s the best option although it’ll be expensive.
Many models don’t have any heavier stack available though. What are your options then?
- Platemate: Platemate is basically a big magnet. You stick it onto anything metal and it’ll stick to it, making it heavier. This is a good solution if you’re just looking for a little bit extra. They don’t get very heavy though so it doesn’t add too much resistance.
- Pin extension: This is a weight plate holder that is a pin that goes in the weight stack on the other side. That means you can attach a weight plate which can add anywhere from .25 to 45 lbs. The drawback is that the extension and plate can interfere with the rest of the machine but this really depends on the specific model.
- Change your workouts: This is a workaround but there are ways to make an exercise tougher with the same resistance. Slowing down your repetitions, increasing repetitions and shortening rest periods are some variables you can play around with that will make your workout surprisingly tougher.
How much resistance do you need?
All those numbers are pretty meaningless without knowing how much resistance you need. Some people might already know how much resistance they need for certain exercises but not everyone will.
How much of resistance do you need?
That depends on a few factors;
- Training level
The exercise is a big factor in how much resistance in enough. Humans are not equally strong on every movement.
Age makes you weaker. It’s sad but, after about your 30th birthday, you can expect a 5-7% loss of muscle mass every decade. Of course you can correct this with exercise but, it means that the older you get, you’ll get weaker in general. This is why exercise isn’t just important for young people. The older you get, the more important it gets to do resistance training to make up for muscle atrophy.
Gender is another big factor. Males have much more upper body strength compared to females although you can always find exemptions to the rule. Females tend to have more lower body endurance.
Bodyweight is one of the biggest factors in strength. Heavier people can generally move more weight. Bigger people already need more muscle to move around in daily life so they are a bit stronger.
Thinking about your future goals is also a big deciding factor. Do you want to become as big as humanly possible? You’ll need more resistance (although free weights are probably a better option in that case). If you’re just interested in general fitness and creating a ‘normal’ physique, you need a whole lot less resistance.
Finally, your training level is very important in how much resistance you can handle. If you look at www.strengthlevel.com, you can see the massive differences in training levels. However, most people will never reach the intermediate level of weightlifting. To reach that level will require about 2 years of consistent training for strength while following a good program and keeping your diet in check. Many people won’t reach this level.
Average exercise weights
Let’s take a look at some popular exercises on strengthlevel.com to see how much weight two different example lifters can lift. The numbers listed are from the ‘intermediate’ column on www.strengthlevel.com since most people don’t have the intention to become a world famous lifter or bodybuilder anyways and most people won’t progress past the intermediate level since it takes a lot of dedication.
Example 1: Male, 30, 180 lbs.
Example 2: Female, 50, 140 lbs.
|Pec Deck Fly||200||72|
Keep in mind: These are numbers from intermediate lifters. That means after about 2 years of serious weightlifting while following a good program, diet, and paying attention to recovery. If you’re a beginner, these numbers will be much lower but you don’t want to buy a machine you can only use for a few months. Also, not everyone will be interested in strength. There are ways to grow muscle without lifting heavier every time.
What you can see there is that for example 1, the best option would be to start on a machine that offers 200 lbs. of resistance and to upgrade the weight stack later when necessary.
Example 2 could get a machine that only offers 150 lbs. of resistance. Even 100 lbs. would be almost enough
For both examples, the normal machines don’t offer enough resistance for the leg press exercise. For example 1 there is no multi gym that offers enough leg press resistance although the BodyCraft Xpress Pro comes close. For example 2, it’s possible to get a multi gym with leg press that offers enough resistance but, that would cost quite a bit extra while only offering a benefit on a single exercise. You have to decide for yourself if the extra cost is going to be worth it for a single exercise. For me personally it wouldn’t be.
Summary: A young adult male needs a multi gym that offers about 200 lbs. of resistance with an option to upgrade to about 250 lbs. A middle aged woman only needs about 150 lbs. of resistance at most. That’s to have enough resistance to progress to an intermediate level.
Weight stack weight vs. resistance
The weight of the weight stack in the machine isn’t necessarily the same as the resistance you feel at the levers.
In machines with a weight stack, there is a cable and pulley system that connects the weights to the levers. That system can be used to change the actual resistance you feel. The levers themselves can also be used to multiply the resistance. Humans are naturally stronger in some movements than other movements. 100 lbs. resistance on a leg press isn’t much but it’s a lot for bicep curls for example.
For most movements on a weight stack machine, the ratio will be 1:1. That means that 1lbs of weight on the stack translates to 1 lbs. of resistance on the lever. However, some machines utilize different ratios to maximize the resistance for the right exercises.
Home gyms sometimes have a 1:2 ratio which means that if you add 1 lbs. to the weight stack, you actually have to lift 2 lbs. more. The drawback of this is that the resolution of weights is a bit lower. Every step up is actually double. On the other hand, you need a lighter stack with this method. A lighter stack means lower production costs and therefore a lower price.
Can you build muscle with a multi gym? Yes, to build muscle you need a big enough training impulse, enough food and enough rest. A multi gym that offers enough resistance (for you), can absolutely help you grow muscle. You still have to do the work though.