Best Functional Trainers (Cable Machines): Reviews & Tips

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Whether its at-home gym or a commercial setting, functional trainers are a must-have. Also known as cable machines are the most versatile form of gym equipment available today. For anyone who is in search of single gym equipment that can work their entire body, a functional trainer is a perfect option.

Cheaper than most of the other gym equipment, these machines with a cable mechanism occupy minimum floor space and cost-effective alternate to traditional weights. These cable machines comprise of cables, attached to pulleys. The mechanism supports an array of different exercises that can be the perfect addition to every gym, especially in an at-home gym. 

Our Top Picks

FORCE USA Monster G6

OUR TOP PICK

An expensive but top class functional trainer, worth every penny. It supports more than 75 exercises, which is more than half of the machines available in the market.

XMark Functional Trainer

RUNNER-UP

XMark is a popular, value-for-money reliable functional trainer, which makes it a top-ranked machine in the category of heavy-duty machines. Perfect for people of all heights.

There are hundreds of manufacturers and thousands of different models available in the market. Finding the best functional trainers amidst the sea of other manufacturers and models can seem to be a daunting task. 

Here is a list of the five top models in the market that you need to get your hands on! 

Best Functional Trainers of 2020

Top 5 in US & Canada

NameImageWeight Stacks Dimensions IF-FIT RatingLink
FORCE USA Monster G3force usa g6 2 x 221 lb 72″ x 63″ x 91″ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★Get Offer
XMark Functional Trainerxmark functional trainer 2 x 200 lb 43.5″ x 65″ x 84″ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ Get Offer
Body-Solid PFT100body solid pft100 2 x 160 lb 42″ x 63″ x 83″ ★ ★ ★ ★ Get Offer
REP FITNESS FT-5000rep fitness ft-5000 2 x 220 lb 85″ x 72″ x 45″ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ Get Offer
BodyCraft HFTBodycraft-HFT-home-functional-trainer2 x 150 lb 55″ x 40″ x 82″ ★ ★ ★ Get Offer

There is no denying there; functional trainers can help work your entire body, save money while occupying minimum space. However, you can enjoy these benefits only when you make the right choice. If you want to make the most out of your functional trainer cable machine, you have to research the market before you make your choice.

We understand how choosing the best out of thousands of options becomes an overwhelming process. Therefore, to help make things simple, easy, and convenient for you, we have compiled a list of the top five models in the market in the year 2020. Make the right choice and stay fit!

FORCE USA Monster G3

The Most Versatile Functional Trainer

A powerful machine that you can use as a smith machine and a power rack. It supports more than 75 exercises, which is more than half of the machines available in the market.

Pros

  • It can be used as a power rack as well as a smith machine besides a functional trainer
  • The angled smith machine is great for natural body adjustment
  • It is perfect for more than 75 different exercises 
  • It supports a full-body workout

Cons

  • It is not the most affordable machine on the market
  • It does not come with a bench

Detailed Review

A powerhouse in the gym, the Monster G3 by FORCE USA, is an exceptional addition in the equipment. You can use this powerful machine as a smith machine as well as the power rack. Why do we call this the most versatile functional trainer in the market? Well, it supports more than 75 exercises, which is more than half of the machines available in the market. You can work your shoulders, core, back, chest, and other body muscles. The Monster G3 offers an entire body workout. In terms of safety, this cable cross machine is an excellent choice because of J-hooks and safties on the power rack side.

Moreover, you can quickly achieve ideal positions for squat as well as bench presses. To add to the convenience of the user, it features a storage unit for weight plates and barbells. There is a chin-up station as well. The dimensions of the machine are 51 “W x 55” D x 87 “H. FORCE USA also offers a G6 model that is the best all-in-one gym. However, it is much pricier than the G6 model that is slightly lower in price but is equipped with similar features.

XMark Functional Trainer

The Perfect Family Machine

XMark functional trainer is where your search ends. The high height adjustability makes it perfect for people of all heights. It is a popular, reliable trainer, which makes it a top-ranked machine in the category of heavy-duty machines.

Pros

  • The functional trainer is super-easy to use and comes with a guidance poster
  • The high degree of adjustability makes this machine an excellent choice for everyone in the family
  • The solid build makes it durable and long-lasting
  • The machine offers true isolateral-based movements that support an array of options for muscle targeting

Cons

  • The pulley movements are not the smoothest 
  • The material and build may seem cheap

Detailed Review

Are you in search of a functional trainer for your home, that even your teenage children could use? Well, the XMark functional trainer comprises of four cable handles, pull-up bars, a long and a short bar, an ankle strap, and a leg extension strap. The best feature of this functional trainer is that it offers 19 settings spaced at 3.5″. It allows the user to experience unlimited training possibilities. The heavy-duty 11-gauge 2″ x 3″ steel mainframe construction makes it a durable machine.

Along with a solid frame, it comes with a commercial grade pull up rig and pulley system that paves the way for smooth workout experience. It comes with 200-lb weight stacks that allow maxing out the resistance. The XMark Fitness provides users their machine with a 1-year parts warranty. It is a smart all-in-one solution for a home-based workout. 

Body-Solid Powerline PFT100

A Budget-Friendly Workout Solution

A functional trainer that is both efficient and budget-friendly. It comes with dual weight stacks, each weighing 160 lbs.

Pros

  • It is one of the most affordable models in the market
  • It features a solid and sturdy frame
  • It comes with a pull-up bar
  • Requires minimal assembly time and features a simplistic design

Cons

  • It only comes with a single pair of handles
  • There are no long/short bars or ankle cuff
  • Not the most equipped machine

Detailed Review

Many people believe that gym equipment is not cheap. However, if you are looking for a functional trainer that is both efficient and budget-friendly, then this Powerline PFT100 by Body-Solid is the smartest choice. It might not be the best in features, but for a low budget, it works well. The affordable cable machine comes with dual weight stacks, each weighing 160 lbs. For an additional cost, the weight stack can be raised to 210 pounds.

The cable machine is easy to assemble, and it features a very simple design. The machine has the following dimensions; 42in.x63in.x83in. The PFT100 comes with two adjustable nylon cables that allow users to do a variety of different exercises. It supports many different exercises, including bicep curls, delt raises, high cable crossovers, triceps extension, triceps press down, and glute kickbacks. It is one of the best functional trainers in the market as it supports workout sessions for people of all fitness levels. Manufacturers offer the users a 10-year frame warranty and one-year parts warranty. 

REP FITNESS FT-5000

A Cost-Saver in the Long-run

Made of 11-gauge steel and is one of the best machines in the heavy-duty machines. Adjustability and versatility are synonymous with FT-5000.

Pros

  • It is one of the most robust and sturdy functional trainers available in the market
  • The weight stacks are heavier than most of the models available, which provide the user with the best possible resistance
  • Storing the attachments is super-easy as the machine comes with ten hooks
  • The smooth function is worth the mention, and the good range of motions is an added feature. 
  • It comes with large and strong pulleys that let a user enjoy smooth feel in cable resistance movements

Cons

  • Some users can experience a little jagging in the movements 

IRON COMPANY BodyCraft

Best Cable Machine for Home Gym

A perfect fit for a gym at home as it has a much smaller footprint than all other models in the category.

Pros

  • Can last a lifetime in a home-gym
  • The flexible nylon cables can hold up to 2000 lbs
  • The column pulleys allow adjustability to different height positions
  • The resistance offers smooth action and provides a good range of motion

Cons

  • Weight stacks not suitable for heavy lifters
  • The padding on the leg press is very thin, makes workout uncomfortable

These are the top five models available in the market as these offer the best features and even support a plethora of different exercises. However, choosing the best out of these five can turn into a stressful task. To help you choose the most suitable option for your commercial or at-home gym, we have created a buying guide that will allow you to make the right choice. 

Functional Trainer Buying Guide

Everything you need to know

There is no doubt that a functional trainer may be quite expensive. It is important to put your money in the right place as it can turn into a major wasted expense, which you won’t be able to recover. We know how daunting a task it can be, and that is why we have created a buying guide to help you choose the right functional trainer as per your needs. 

Functional Trainer Alternatives and the Key Differences

It is smart to ponder upon the alternates to the functional trainers. 

Free Weights

The cable machines are often used for strength training. If you do not want to spend money on a functional trainer, you can choose free weights. These are very commonly used in strength training. Free weights offer much more versatile as they offer a full range of motion. They are portable. However, the free weights are dangerous, and using them can be daunting. 

Home Gym

Another alternative for a functional trainer is the home gym. It is expensive to manage a home, and it can take up much more space than a simple cable machine. It might not even offer the kind of versatility that a functional trainer has to offer. 

Power Rack

Next in the list of alternates for a functional trainer is a power rack. These are simple in design and are easy to use. The disadvantage of this is for people who cannot lift a standard, 45 lb Olympic barbell. Moreover, it might not even fit in your space. However, if you combine a power rack with a bench, the workout options are limitless. 

Cable Crossover 

A cable crossover machine is a lot like a functional trainer. The only difference is pulleys may or may not be height adjustable. 

Lat Pulldown

Lat pull-down machine is frequently used for traditional strength training. However, these machines work a specific group of muscles at a time. If you want a full-body workout, then this is not the smartest option for you. 

Smith Machine

Smith machines are the best alternate for functional trainers. You can significantly increase the weight on it without worrying about the safety or control, but these allow fixed movements using a vertical squat bar. 

Features to Consider before buying a Functional Trainer

When you head out to the market to purchase a car or a new gadget, you always do your research. You enlist certain factors that serve as a base for comparison of different products. It is a common process when you head out to purchase an expensive item. Similarly, when you are choosing a functional trainer, you need to compare different models on the base of several factors. Here is what you need to look for when buying a cable machine. 

Product Durability

The first essential factor of consideration is the product durability; it is a key consideration in fitness equipment because low durability can jeopardize a user’s safety. Moreover, functional trainers are expensive, investing money on this equipment now and then is not a feasible option. A durable machine means it will last longer, which will save your money and enhance safety during a workout. 

Weight and Dimensions

The next feature is the weight and dimensions. The weight might not be that of a problem, but the dimensions certainly are, why? Well, it is important to consider the amount of space a machine will cover. It is very important for both commercial as well as home gyms. You need to be sure that the machine you are purchasing will fit perfectly in the layout of the gym space and will cause no hindrance in movement. 

Weight Stacks

The next factor of consideration is the weight stacks that come with the functional trainers. If you are fitness enthusiasts, you must be well aware of the fact that resistance levels are an integral feature of gym equipment. Higher resistance levels mean more workout benefits. If budget is an issue for you, the smartest option is to choose plates instead of weight stacks. These are economical in comparison to weight stacks. For anyone who does not have a limited budget should go for dual stacks instead of one. Choose a functional trainer that offers higher resistance levels. 

Attachments

If you are looking for additional attachments in a functional trainer, you need to understand that the higher the number of attachments, the more expensive the cable machine will be. The pricey machines offer a wide range of attachments, while cheaper machines offer a small number of attachments. If you want attachments to make sure to look for triceps rope, pull-up bar, short and long bar, ankle strap, sports bar, and a curl bar. 

Warranty

Last but not least is the warranty. One factor that you must consider when buying a cable machine is the warranty. You want to invest in a machine that will save you from repair and replacement costs for an extended time period. Therefore, when making a choice, do consider the warranty each of the models is offering. For a frame, the ideal warranty is ten or more years. Moving parts are subject to increased wear and tear, so most of the manufacturers offer a warranty of two to three years for the parts. The more expensive options, however, may even offer a lifetime warranty on moving parts. 

Benefits of using a Functional Trainer

Many commercial gym owners and at-home gym owners choose functional trainers over cable crossovers, free weights, and many other gym equipments. Why? Because of the plethora of benefits, a functional trainer brings to their gym. 

Wide Variety of Exercises

The first benefit is, of course, the versatility, which is a defining factor of these machines. Experts say that a functional trainer’s potential is limited by one’s imagination only. You can perform more than 75 exercises on these machines. From beginner to high-impact workout, these machines support every form of workout. The attachments that come with these trainers add more to the machine’s versatility. 

Safety

For workout enthusiasts and fanatics, safety is a top priority. They do not wish to work on their fitness by putting their safety at risk. As compared to free weights, the functional trainers let you work out without a spotter. Features such as full-length wight-shrouds are one of the many ways it offers a safe workout opportunity to fitness enthusiasts. 

Rehabbing Injuries

Functional trainers offer an amazing range of benefits for people with injuries. These machines are phenomenal tools for injuries. The adjustable pulleys offer an unlimited range of motion, which is why many physical therapists recommend using these machines as a form of rehab. 

Cost-Effective

These are not the cheapest machines, but it is a cost-effective alternative than purchasing separate equipment. A single machine offers a wide range of exercises to the users. 

4 Best Functional Trainer exercises & what part of the body does each one work?

Functional trainers support a variety of different exercises. Here are the four best exercises that you can do to complete a high-impact workout. 

Cable Reverse Lunge

A cable reverse lunge is an exercise that can be done using a cable machine. It works your hamstrings and posterior muscle chain. 

Plank Triceps Kick Back

If a functional trainer comes with a D-handle attachment, then you can try the plant triceps kickback exercise. It engages the core and works on the triceps. 

Standing Leg Curl

Another exercise that you can indulge in with a functional trainer is a standing leg curl. The exercise is possible if the machine comes with an ankle attachment. These movements work your hamstrings and glutes.

Cable Front Squat

The cable front squat is a common form of exercise that can be done using a functional trainer. It engages the quads, glutes, and hamstrings, offering you a chance to work your entire body. 

Popular Functional Trainer equipment add-ons and why you should think of buying them

The number of attachments offered by functional trainers varies with the model and manufacturer. Here is a lost of the most popular functional trainer equipment add-ons that you must consider to look for when buying a functional trainer. 

Long Bar and Short Bar

Two of the most common cable machine attachments include the long bar and short bar. A long-bar after getting attached to both pulleys. It then acts like a barbell, which is a piece of common gym equipment. The short bar, on the other hand, attaches to one side only. 

Ankle Cuff

If you are looking for attachments, then an ankle cuff is another one that you need to consider. These attach to your ankle that supports hip strengthening exercises.

D-Handles

Every functional trainer comes with D-handles. It supports almost all functional trainer exercises. 

Pull-up Bar

Pull-up bars help in a workout by training biceps, lats, scapular retractors, and forearms.

With this, the functional trainer buying guide comes to an end. Now you do have not only the top five models in the market but also the power to choose the best from the best. Make sure you invest your money in the right machine. Enjoy your workout with an all-in-one workout machine.

FAQ

You asked, we answer

Why are these cable machines called functional trainers?

These machines are multi planer, which is why they are called functional trainers. It can duplicate any real-world movement.

Are cable exercises effective?

Yes, cable exercises are effective and provide multiple benefits. They work your core muscles and allow you to isolate the targeted muscle. The constant tension in cables helps in strength training and muscle growth. 

Can you build muscle on cable machines?

Muscle growth depends majorly on how much pressure is placed on the muscle during the exercise. The cable machines offer constant tension. 

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