The Benefits of Multi Gyms
Multi Gyms keep improving in quality, sophistication and the options that are available. While still not as popular as lifting Free Weights, home gym use has grown by 80 percent since 1987, according to the Sporting Goods Manufacturing Association. This increase in multi gym use has attracted new manufacturers to the market, giving the consumer more opportunities than ever before to find a system that perfectly fits his or her needs. Unfortunately, it also makes the search for the perfect multi gym that much more difficult.
A little research before venturing out to the fitness equipment stores could save you a lot of time in the long run.
The Multi Stack Multi-Gyms are the old standbys of the home gym industry and consist of blocks or disks of weights attached to a lever or pulley system. Changing the amount you lift is easy - you just move a pin in the weight stack or add another plate in plate-loading models.
Using a weight-stack gym machine has several advantages. It looks and feels more like models you find in gyms, a definite plus for those who have lifted in the health-club setting. Weight stacks give you a point of reference; non-weight-stack models may turn them off because of their different feel. They also let you know exactly how much you are lifting. Many non-weight-stack multi gyms make you guess at the amount, making it difficult to track progress. Be advised though that lifting 100lbs on one multigym machine may not feel the same as lifting the same amount on another.
The different pulley systems on the various models often cause the actual amount you are lifting to vary slightly. Many of the manufacturers have transformed their multi gyms in the past few years to address this. Changes include protective shrouds over the weight, ergonomically sound seats, the ability to accommodate large differences in body size and easier changes from one weight to another.
Manufacturers have also refined the pulley and cable systems to reduce noise and improve smoothness. They have tried to reduce the floor space multi gyms occupy without compromising the number of features as well.
The Right Multi Gym Features For You
Buying the right home multi gym for your needs and within your price range can be very difficult. A wide range of products of varying quality confronts you. Two seemingly similar multi gyms can be very different from one another when you begin looking at them closely. You need to appreciate your wants and test the machine to ensure it meets them before making your final decision.
First, make sure you can use it. Some machines literally do not fit their users. Many gyms are designed for people between 5' 8" and 6' 2" in height; shorter or taller people could be in trouble, unless it has adjustable seats. Other machines are too narrow for larger individuals to fit between the bars. Still others don't fit the human body at all. Look for a multi gym with people-friendly angles rather than boxy, straight lines. Cast iron weight stacks offer a smoother range of motion.
The resistance should fit too. Its settings should include weights light enough for the beginner user to train on and heavy enough to challenge the strongest lifter. We recommend at least a 200lb stack with a 10lb starting weight.
Features vary greatly and you need to make sure they fit you as well. A good multi gym should allow you to do 12 or more different exercises without having to change the configuration. All these features should come with good instructional support. While every company provides a basic owner's manual, some companies such as Body-Solid and Vectra include printed workout charts with their machines.
Physically shake any multi gym you are thinking about purchasing. If it moves or wobbles easily, then choose another one. You don't want to worry about the multi gym moving in the middle of a workout. Look for heavy gauge steel tubing to eliminate flexing and improve movement quality.
If you've decided on a weight-stack multi gym, be aware that open stacks pose the safety hazard of weights crushing someone's (especially children's) hands. If you have children, keep them away from the multi gym while you are using it and buy a shroud for the weight stack (available with most multi gyms). If a shroud is not available and you have small children at home, look for a different model. You do not want to jeopardise your children's safety.
Finally, examine the cables. They should be strong enough that they won't break when you lift heavy weights and have a quiet and smooth motion rather than a dragging, noisy one. Buy models with covered cables as this will prolong the life by up to 5 times.