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Having some trouble choosing between a multi gym and separate machines? You’re not alone. Here are the pros and cons of both so you can make the right decision.
Multi-station home gym versus separate machines: For most people, a multi-station home gym is a better solution than separate machines because they are cheaper and take up less space. All-in-one gyms provide enough resistance to build muscle and strength for beginners and intermediate lifters.
For a more in depth explanation why all in one gyms are cheaper and a few more pros and cons, keep reading.
What is a multi-station home gym?
If you’ve ever been to a commercial gym, you probably know what gym machines look like. In a commercial gym there are a lot of different machines that all do something different. They let you make different movements so they train different parts of your body.
A multi-station home gym is a bit different. This is a piece of equipment that tries to give you an all-in-one gym. They combine as many movements into a single piece of equipment as possible. These movements aren’t done at the same time but you can do them on the same machine. That means you sit on the same seat every time. While with separate machines, you have to change machines.
What’s the practical difference? Let’s get into it.
Multi-station home gym: Pros and cons
First, let’s take a look at multi-station gyms. What are the pros and cons of an all-in-one gym?
- Takes up less space: One of the biggest benefits of a multi gym is the space savings it brings over most other forms of home gyms. Separate machines take up much more space in total if you want the same functionality.
- Cheaper in the end: While multi gyms aren’t cheap by any means, you get a whole lot of functionality for your money. Most all in one home gyms provide you with enough options for a full body workout. Buying all the separate machines that allow you to do the same movements is going to take much more money.
- You’re always on the correct machine: You can change the movement by just putting your hands on a different handle or change positions. With separate machines, you have to change machines. It’s a small benefit but a benefit nonetheless.
- Less maintenance: While there are a few more moving parts on a multi gym than on other gym machines, in total, an all in one machine has fewer moving parts than a lot of separate machines. There’s only one machine you have to maintain instead of multiple.
- Just for you: Since you only have one seat, it’s just you in your home gym. This could be a pro or con depending on if you like to work out alone or with a buddy. You can still just take turns using the machine of course.
- Check out my recommendations for multi-station home gyms by clicking here.
- Single point of failure: The fact that there is less maintenance to do is also a weakness at the same time. It means that when your multi gym breaks, you don’t have any machine to work out on. With separate machines you’ll still be able to do all the other exercises because those machines are still working. If a multi gym breaks, you’re dependent on the service of the manufacturer for replacement parts and service. It’s going to take some time to get it repaired.
- Can’t change a single movement: With separate machines, if you don’t like a certain movement, you can just change that machine. With an all in one gym you’ll have to exchange the whole machine.
- Limited weight: All in one gyms can be a bit limited in resistance. Especially for lower body exercises where people can handle more resistance. It really depends on your training level if that’s a problem.
Want to train with free weights instead? Check out my eBook to build the best free weights home gym you can imagine.
Separate machines: Pros and Cons
You probably got the idea but let’s take a look at it from the other side. Here are the pros and cons of separate machines.
- Get exactly what you want: With a multi gym, there might be a certain aspect of the machine you don’t like too much but the other parts are good enough to get it. With separate machines you can have every movement as you like it. Since every machine does one (or maybe two) movements, you can get the exact one you like without having to change all the other ones.
- Easier exchange: If one machine isn’t exactly what you want, you can change just that one. Sure, you can exchange an all in one machine as well but that means you change everything.
- Options: If one machine breaks, you’ll still have a ton of other machines to work out on. Missing one machine for a few days isn’t a huge deal. With a multi gym you won’t be able to work out at all if it’s broken down.
- Possibly better muscle and strength gains: Because every movement is exactly how you like it, you might be able to get a better workout than with a multi gym. This really depends on the specific machines your situation and your workout program though.
- Room for more people: More machines means more seats which means that you could work out with more people at the same time. In most home gyms people will work out alone but it might be nice to work out with your spouse or a workout buddy.
- Weight is matched to movement: The weight stack of separate machines is matched to the strength people have on that movement. You have a heavier weight stack for leg presses than for bicep curls.
- Takes up a lot of space: Commercial gyms are large. Sure they need to house a lot of people but it’s also because they need space for a lot of machines. Every machine needs space to be places and some room around it to be able to use it. If you want to have a similar setup at home, you will need quite a bit of space.
- Expensive: Gym machines are not cheap. A good multi gym might be more expensive than a good single separate machine or even two. However, an all in one machine offers options for a full body workout. Getting all the separate machines that provide the same versatility is more expensive in the end.
- More maintenance: More machines means more things that can fail. You’ll have to maintain more things. This doesn’t take too much time but it’s still necessary if you want to keep your machines working correctly.
Which one is better?
So which one is better? It really depends on a few things;
- Training level
Most home gyms are not very big. Of course you can always find exceptions and if you’re in the lucky position to have 1500 sq. ft. of free space, congratulations! However, most people don’t have that luxury. That means most people can’t fit all the machines necessary for a full body workout in their home gym.
If that’s you, you’re better off getting a multi gym than getting just half or a quarter of the machines you need.
With very limited space, free weights are a better option. Check out my eBook to find out exactly how to build a free weights home gym.
While multi gyms are not cheap, they do a lot of things. They usually cost about the same as two average separate machines of similar quality. Of course there is a big price range of both all in one gyms and separate machines.
Two machines isn’t going to provide you with a full workout. To get a full body workout you’ll need more than two different machines which means that in the end, a multi gym is cheaper.
The more muscle you have, the more difficult it becomes to grow more. Multi gyms are focused towards beginner and intermediate lifters. That’s not to say you can’t build a great body with one because you can if used correctly. However, the resistance limitations mean that a multi gym won’t be very effective for advanced lifters. But, for beginners, the resistance will be more than enough and with proper programming you can build a decent amount of muscle.
Most advanced lifters will use a combination of free weights and separate machines.
That brings us to the elephant in the room; free weights.
Free weights have a lot of benefits and are generally considered to be the most effective at building muscle and strength. However, for many people, they are intimidating. Free weights can also be unsafe for untrained people that don’t know how to use them.
Free weights and multi gyms are for different target audiences. So for beginners, the multi gym is a great solution.
For most people that aren’t very well trained, have limited space and money, a multi gym is a good solution. The only limitation is the maximum resistance that these machines can provide however, many exercisers will never run into those limitations.
But, if you want to get really big and strong, free weights + machines are the way to go.
Can a multi gym build muscle? Yes, if you’re a beginning or intermediate weightlifter, you can build a decent amount of muscle with an all in one gym. For advanced weightlifters, the resistance offered won’t be enough to grow muscle. If you’re not used to lifting weights, you’ll build a good amount of muscle with a multi gym provided you follow a good program.
Best Cable Machine Accessories
Make your cable trainer experience even better with these accessories.
- Attachments: No cable machine is complete with a good set of attachments. Click here to find the best set of attachments
- PlateMate: One or two platemates (Amazon link) can help you increase the weight more gradually on your weight stack. Just stick them onto your weight stack.
- Bench: A good adjustable weightlifting bench like the CAP Deluxe (Amazon) adds many exercise options to a cable machine like bench presses and shoulder presses.
Find the most complete functional trainer that includes most of these accessories by clicking here.