Are Functional Trainers Worth It For Your Home Gym?

I’ve received a ton of questions about whether functional trainers are worth it for your home gym. 

This is going to depend entirely upon the space that you have as well as if you’re doing resistance training for bodybuilding, powerlifting, etc. 

Let’s go over why they may or may not be worth it for your home gym now!

I also created an in-depth guide for those interested in the best functional trainers for your garage gym that you can check out as well.

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What Is A Functional Trainer?

Functional trainers are a piece of fitness equipment very similar to a cable machine in a commercial gym for pulldowns, cable crossover, pushdowns, and various others. 

The main difference is that they tend to have dual cable pulley systems to allow for a ton of different exercise variations.

If you want to try and build your own lat pulldown/low row pulley system for basic movements, I made the perfect guide for you!

Functional Trainer Pros And Cons

Functional trainers, like all fitness equipment, have their pros and cons. 

I think the pros outweigh the cons on this one, so let’s go over them and see what you think!

Pros

#1 — It Expands Your Exercise Selection Tremendously

The sheer number of exercises you can do with just a functional trainer is insane! 

You can do pulldowns, pushdowns, rows, extensions, curls, different pressing and fly variations, and a lot more!

By having a functional trainer in your gym, you have a tiny area that is dedicated to dozens and dozens of different exercises.

With the standard barbell and power rack, you have a lot of options as well. 

But compared to a functional trainer, you’re going to be limited in the number of exercises you can do. 

If you want to build as much muscle as possible, getting a functional trainer for your home gym is one of the best investments you can make. 

#2 — Relatively Small Footprint Compared To Other Machines

Compared to all the different variations of exercises you can do on functional trainers, you would need a bunch of different machines, a power rack, barbells, benches, and more.

You don’t need that much space for a well-designed functional trainer in your garage gym.

#3 — Safety

Everyone knows that if you want to get as strong as possible – a barbell, dumbbell, and power rack setup is going to be the best you can get. 

Do you actually need a power rack? Check out my guide here to find out!

However, if you want to train as safely as possible, functional trainers are going to be better for most people out there.

Especially those that haven’t trained for a very long time and don’t know what needs to be done to ensure their technique is optimal. 

Plus, to get as big as possible, you want to have the most amount of stability you can. 

Cables and machines are going to be better than free weights if your main goal is to build more muscle for this very reason.

The more stable you are during a movement, the safer you’re going to be and the more muscle you’ll build.

Cons

#1 — Price

This should be obvious, but a lot of solid functional trainers are going to cost a decent amount of money, especially if it has weight stacks built into them. 

There are a couple of plate-loaded versions you can get, but usually, they won’t be worth it depending on who makes it. 

However, if you want to fully deck out a power rack with a pull-down cable setup, with iso lever arms and more, it might be comparable to functional trainers.

Add in the price of a barbell, plates, benches, and more; the trainer might be cheaper.

If you’re trying to make a budget garage gym, a functional trainer with a full weight stack might not be in the cards for you.

But if you can find a high-quality plate-loaded version, it might be worth it.

#2 — They Require Maintenance

With a typical power rack, barbell, and plates, you won’t have much maintenance at all.

Functional trainers have a lot of moving parts though, so you’re going to have to do some maintenance over time.

However, if you just plan on getting a functional trainer for your gym and that’s it, then a little maintenance is going to be worth it.

#3 – May Require A Learning Curve

Functional trainers allow you to do a ton of different movements. 

However, for many people, this is going to mean learning how to do a bunch of new exercises you’ve never even thought of before.

Machines are going to be a little easier to learn and perform because they lock you in. 

With cables though, you have a lot more wiggle room to move the cables around.

If you get past this, you’ll realize the full potential of having a functional trainer for your garage gym.

Functional Trainers Vs Free Weights

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If your main goal is bodybuilding or just building muscle, a functional trainer is a great option!

They allow you to do various exercises for your different muscle groups without a ton of extra fitness equipment.

Plus, if it has a weight stack, you won’t even have to invest in separate plates which take up more space in your gym.

On the flip side, if you’re into strength training, powerlifting, or strongman training – getting fitness equipment like free weights, a power rack, and dumbbells are going to be a better buy overall. 

The price is going to be something that you have to consider as well. 

Functional trainers are going to cost a little more than just standard weights.

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A solid power rack, weight plates, and barbells run anywhere between $500 to $2,000+ depending on the quality.

Whereas functional trainers are going to cost anywhere between $500-$5000+ depending on the quality and whether or not they have a weight stack.

Again, as I mentioned before, safety is also going to be a major concern for resistance training in a home gym by yourself.

If you just have to choose between a functional trainer or a free weight setup, a functional trainer might be a better idea.

After all, cables are usually a lot safer to train with compared to free weights which require a lot more stabilization to train effectively and safely.

Frequently Asked Questions

Conclusion

So what do you think?

Is a functional trainer worth it for your garage gym?

If so, which one are you interested in getting for yourself?

Let me know in the comment section below!

Until next time,

-Dante

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