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 training for bodybuilding, powerlifting, etc. 

But first, what exactly is a functional trainer?

A functional trainer is a piece of equipment very similar to cable machines in a commercial gym for pulldowns, cable crossover, pushdowns, and various others. 

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

Functional Trainer Pros And Cons

Functional trainers, like all workout 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 a fun ctional trainer, 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. 

However, if you want to train as safely as possible, the functional trainer is 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 a weight stack built into it. 

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 a functional trainer.

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

If you’re trying to make a budget home gym, a functional trainer 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 Trainer Vs Free Weights

web ft 5000 1r2a3462

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 the different divisions of each muscle group without a ton of extra equipment.

On the flip side, if you’re into strength training, powerlifting, or strongman training, getting things like free weights, a power rack, and dumbbells is 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 free weights.

ab 5200 pr 5000 v2 adam 2 1

A solid power rack, free weights, 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.

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

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

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

Best Functional Trainers

Titan Fitness Functional Trainer

Titan Fitness FUNCTIONAL TRAINER

Achieve a total body workout with the double stack Functional Trainer. Perform over 1,000 explosive, interactive strength training positions.


Buy Now
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

This functional trainer from Titan Fitness has a double stack and dual cable setup which is what you should be looking for in this price range.

The full weight for each stack is 200 lbs for a total of 400 lbs overall, with a pulley ratio of 2 to 1, this provides 200 lbs of resistance.

This is going to be perfect for most cable exercises!

The Titan Functional Trainer has a couple of different attachments which are included with it.

The attachments are as follows:

  • Short Bar
  • Long Bar
  • Ankle Strap
  • Dual Stirrup Handles
  • Rope Handles
  • Single and Double D-Handles

This provides a lot of extra value on top of the quality this Functional Trainer brings.

If you want to learn more, check out the Titan Fitness Functional Trainer here!

Titan Fitness Plate Loaded Functional Trainer

Our Pick
Titan Fitness Plate Loaded Functional Trainer

The last pulley system you will ever need – the Plate Loaded Functional Trainer is a workout centerpiece for your home or commercial gym.

Learn More
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

This Functional Trainer from Titan Fitness is Plate Loaded with a price to back it up!

It features two 9 ¼” Olympic plate sleeves for easy loading, a pull-up bar, as well as a pulley system featuring pulldowns, low rows and the typical dual cable setup.

Plus, the fact that it’s plate loaded, this is going to be one of the best prices you’ll get for a functional trainer!

The coolest part is that this trainer allows for loading up to 660 lbs, which means you’ll be able to throw literally anything at it.

If you want a budget functional trainer that is solid and not a piece of junk, this plate loaded trainer from Titan is an awesome deal!

If you want to learn more, check out the Titan Fitness Plate Loaded Functional Trainer here!

REP FT-3000 Compact Functional Trainer

REP FT-3000 COMPACT FUNCTIONAL TRAINER

Built to the same standards as our FT-5000, this functional trainer features a compact design ideal for home gyms and smaller commercial facilities.

Buy Now
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

This functional trainer from Rep Fitness has 15 cable positions to choose from, which allows for a ton of different exercises.

It also has 2:1 ratio cables but only has two 180 lb stacks compared to Titans 200 lb ones.

Although this is cheaper than Titans so it’s to be expected.

Rep also offers both performance and pro series attachments, which is nice if you want a bundle for the add-ons you don’t have.

The other great thing about the FT-3000 is that it has a pretty compact footprint as the name suggests!

It’s only 78″x53″x34″ (Height x Width x Depth), which is around 6.5×4.4×2.8 ft.

This is the perfect size for any home gym that needs to maximize their space as much as possible.

Check out the REP FT-3000 Compact Functional Trainer here to learn more!

REP FT-5000 Functional Trainer

REP FT-5000 FUNCTIONAL TRAINER

The REP Functional Trainer is one of the most versatile pieces of equipment you can add to your home or commercial gym. New and improved from our original REP V1 Functional Trainer!

Buy Now
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

The REP FT-5000 is the best functional trainer they currently make.

It has 16 different cable positions with dual 220 lb stacks with a 2:1 ratio for plenty of resistance.

This functional trainer is also constructed of 11-gauge steel, just like their high end racks and benches.

Just like the FT-3000, it includes multiple pullup grip options as well. 

If you don’t need to worry about the space and want a more solid functional trainer from REP, I would go with this over their cheaper model as the price difference is negligible.

Check out the REP FT-5000 Functional Trainer here to learn more!

XMark Functional Trainer

XMark Functional Trainer

Hands down, the XMark functional trainer is the most versatile piece of equipment for you and your family's home gym. It easily adjusts for anyone in your household, whether young or old, short or tall.

Buy Now
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

I rarely recommend things from Amazon unless they’re reviewed well and are comparable to companies such as Titan, Rogue, and REP.

The XMark Functional Trainer has a 2:1 ratio like all of the other pieces on this list.

It also has dual 200 lb weight stacks like the others, but it also has 19 quick adjust settings, making it the most adjustable by far!

The XM-7626 also includes the following attachments!

  • Pair of 8” hand straps
  • Pair of 17” long strap handles
  • 23” Tricep Rope
  • A Short Bar
  • A 42” long bar
  • Leg Extension/Leg Curl Strap
  • As well as an ankle strap

Considering the price of this Functional Trainer, having all of these included is awesome for sure.

This trainer only has a split grip pull-up bar so if you’re trying to get a multi-grip setup I recommend the others on this list instead.

There have been some negative reviews about the frame being welded incorrectly, the unit being refurbished when they bought it new, and even missing some of the plates for the weight stack.

However, these are definitely in the minority though and the last bad review I saw was from December of last year. 

It sounds like these are isolated incidents and you can order comfortably knowing it’s from Amazon sellers.

Check out the XMark Functional Trainer here to learn more!

Need More Weight On Your Functional Trainer? Check These Out!

The Original 2" GymPin

We found too many limitations in our local gym. Not enough resistance and certainly not enough to push us to our limits. When we spoke to others on the scene, they were the same. They wanted more from their gym equipment and needed a solution. Now you can build muscle using the kit that you have access to.


Buy Now
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

Regardless of what functional trainer you decide on, you might get to the point where you just need more weight.

As most of the trainers I’ve mentioned show, a 2:1 ratio pulley system is the norm. 

So basically 200 lbs is 100 lbs of actual resistance.

This is fine for a lot of single joint exercises, but eventually you’re going to be stronger than the whole stack.

When this happens, you can get an awesome piece of equipment that allows you to add weight to the stack.

There are two products I know of that allow you to do this.

Need More Weight On Your Functional Trainer? Check These Out!

10MM STACKED WEIGHT PIN

The Stacked Weight Pin is a patent pending pin that allows you to add additional Olympic weight plates to any selectorized machine.

Buy Now
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

They both work the same way for the most part. 

Each of them has a smaller pin on one side that allows you to attach it directly to your weight stack.

Then, on the other side is a standard 2” sleeve although you can get some in 1” sleeves as well.

It works very similar to a barbell collar, you add weight and lift heavy shit.

Plus, because most standard cables for functional trainers can hold up to 2000 lbs, you’re not going to have to worry about them exploding.

You can check out the Stacked Weight Pin here and the Gym Pin here as well to find out more!

Questions People Also Ask

Can You Build Muscle With A Functional Trainer?

You can absolutely build muscle with a functional trainer and it’s even better than what free weights allow you to do.

If you’re trying to train different divisions of the musculature, such as the various heads of the pecs, shoulders, or lats, it’s going to be much more effective training with cables.

Of course, using a functional trainer, you’re going to have more stability than with free weights, and you’re going to build more muscle without a ton of central fatigue. 

Having a cable setup that allows you to train all the major muscle groups is going to be perfect for building muscle.

What Should I Look For In A Functional Trainer?

There are 3 main things you should look for in a solid functional trainer. 

The first is if it is pin, or plate loaded. 

Each one has its positives and negatives but the main differences are as follows.

  • Pin Loaded – Easier to adjust but you’re limited by the weight of the stack, plus it’s going to be more expensive.
  • Plate Loaded – Much cheaper as long as you have budget weight plates lying around, but it’s a little more difficult to adjust the weights you’re using.

The next thing you should look for is the design. If you just have a single cable pulley, you will not have as many options, so you want to make sure you get a dual cable pulley system instead.

The third thing you need to pay attention to is the build quality of the frame, the pulleys, as well as the cables. 

This is probably the most important thing because the quality is going to determine how long your functional trainer will last, and help guarantee your safety while using it.

Some extras you can look for with your functional trainer are different attachments. 

This isn’t 100% necessary, but it’s also a nice addition they can throw in as you’re going to have to buy attachments for whatever it is you plan to do.

What Exercises Can You Do On A Functional Trainer?

There are a ton of different exercises you can do on a functional trainer. 

Here are just a few that I recommend!

  • Pulldowns
  • Pushdowns
  • Rows
  • Face Pulls
  • Extensions
  • Curls
  • Pressing Variations
  • Shrugs
  • Flyes
  • And Much More!

If you have the right attachments and a functional trainer, you’ll be able to do an entire work out of just cable stuff without ever leaving that section of your garage gym.

Can You Do Squats On A Functional Trainer?

You can do squats on a functional trainer, but I recommend you stick with barbells, dumbbells, and machine base squats instead.

Can You Deadlift With A Functional Trainer?

Just like the squat, you can do the deadlift with a functional trainer, but is this going to be optimal? 

Absolutely not.

Plus, if you’re trying to build muscle, there are better options than the deadlift anyway, such as a Romanian deadlift, stiff-legged deadlift, and even the trap bar deadlift.

How much does a functional trainer cost?

A functional trainer can cost anywhere between $500-$5000+ depending on the quality. 

Usually the best value is going to be found between $1,500-$3,000.

Anything lower than $1,000 is going to be pretty cheap and not worth the investment.

Not all budget options are created equal after all.

On the other hand, anything over $5000 is just not worth it as there are plenty of options that have a much better value.

Conclusion

Now I turn it over to you!

Do you think Functional Trainers are worth it for your home gym?

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

Let me know in the comment section below!

Until next time,

-Dante

Leave a Comment