How much resistance does a multi-station home gym provide and is that enough for a good workout? I did some research and found out.
The average all-in-one home gym offers about 180 lbs. of resistance with a range of 110lbs. to 330lbs. 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.
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.
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.
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 5-7% 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.
Gender is another big factor. Males have much more upper body strength compared to females although you can always find exemptions to the rule.
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.
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.