B uilding a home gym or putting together a workout corner at home can be quite a challenge, which comes mostly from the diversity of gym apparatuses you can find on the market. The problem is that they are quite expensive, so you may need to renounce some pieces of equipment that may have helped you develop other muscles groups as well in favor of a more versatile one that incorporates multiple stations.
Since there has been quite a discussion lately around the use of multi-gyms instead of power cages or vice versa, and since both machine types offer excellent models that have received great reviews, we have decided to perform a more detailed analysis of what stands behind these systems and how they can help you bulk up and define your muscles. Let’s see which will be standing in the end as our champion.
This multi-station product is one of the athletes’ favorites, and for a good reason. It is easy to use, most models allow you to adjust the resistance without having to move weight plates, and you can get the most of strength training per session.
Multi-gyms come in a lot of different configurations, but most of them have the same principle of operation: a resistance component which can be represented either by free weights, a stack of weight plates, or, for more forward-thinking products, SpiraFlex plates and a set of pulleys that are connected to the resistance option on one side and the apparatus on the other side.
These machines consist of multiple stations: most of them have a chest press. Then, you have models that offer an arm press, a leg press and a leg developer, an EZ bar, or a preacher’s curl. You just need to decide how advanced your workout will be and how much you are willing to spend.
Also known as a power cage, this is a must if you are looking to do barbell workouts, especially if you are working out without a spotter. It will be your safety mechanism, and you should get one if you are planning on getting serious with your bodybuilding program.
It is basically a big heavy steel frame that comes with J hooks and safety bars where you can place the barbell at the end of the exercise or even while executing it if you feel that you can no longer control the movement. In this stage, there are not many workouts you can do with it, and this is the big catch with the power rack: you need to buy other accessories to make the most out of it. For instance, you will need to purchase the weight plates separately, or you won’t have what to lift. If you are planning on doing barbell chest presses, you will need a workout bench, as the rack doesn’t come with one.
Now that you have had the chance to see how these machines work and what are their strengths and weaknesses, it is time to think about what you expect from a weight machine. These are the most important criteria you should consider:
Cost and space: First thing first, if you have a limited budget, it will eventually decide your pick. While it may seem that you will get cheaper with a power rack than with a good multi-gym, you may end up paying more on the other gear pieces you need to make it functional. A multi-gym is often more compact, so it is a better choice for a small space.
Winner: Home Gym
Workouts: The number of workouts is high in both options, with the difference that the gym allows you to do them all from the start, having all the stations included, while the rack requires you to invest more money to be able to do more exercises. Nevertheless, the rack has a higher potential for expansion, and it allows you to do combined exercises that will engage all the muscles in your body.
Winner: Power Rack
Safety: Both the rack and the gym offer you more protection than traditional weight lifting, but the gym is considered safer, as the position of the pulleys only allows you to do controlled movements, which means you have almost no chances of getting an injury. Studies have shown that this type of training is the most adequate for people who are in a recovery stage after suffering an injury.
Winner: Home Gym
The option you pick depends a lot on your purpose. For example, if you are looking to get more muscles and obtain a more defined look, a power rack can definitely help you get it, as there are studies that have proved that partially controlled movements activate more muscles than fully controlled movements. Alternatively, if you want to get good strength and cardio training that can help you lead a healthy lifestyle and look ripped, you can definitely go for the multi-gym.