If you are planning to choose the best functional trainer, you should know about what factors need to be considered. And we are helping you with this in the article.
What is a functional trainer? A functional trainer is often referred to as a cable cross over the gym or a cable pulley machine.
With a functional trainer, you can do an infinite variety of exercises that you perform in your daily life and the meantime, with a low impact on your joints.
We did our research, gathered information through the whole Internet, and picked seven best functional trainers for you.
For those people who just want to see our top picks of the best home/commercial functional trainers, here you go:
- Inspire Fitness FT2 Functional Trainer—Best Home Functional Trainer
- Inspire Fitness FT1 Functional Trainer—Best Compact Functional Trainer
- BodyCraft HFT Functional Trainer
- XMark Functional Trainer Cable Machine—Best Reviewed on Amazon
- Body-Solid Powerline Functional Trainer (PFT100)—Best Budget Home Gym Cable Machine
- Life Fitness G7
- Inspire Fitness SCS Smith System—Most Versatile
What Is a Functional Trainer?
When you hear the term “functional trainer,” you might assume that it is a complex machine. But it is not, it is another term for a cable machine.
The term “functional trainer” began when the machine was used in sports medicine and rehab clinics.
The clinicians used the machine to do functional training, so the machine was termed as a functional trainer.
The reason why rehabs had these machines was to offer the chance for the patients to perform activities of daily living safely and efficiently. As they say, doing the skill will help you nurture it.
Even though the machines were used for rehab needs, after some time, they became a good selection for home gyms.
The functional trainer is an excellent choice for therapists as it has adjustable pulleys, which have unlimited motion range.
And this option provides therapists to improve many tasks super quickly and safely.
Sport moves such as golf club or baseball bat are accommodated using the functional trainer. Besides, they can benefit you by offering the chance to engage in rotational movements.
There are different sizes and shapes that we can find in the functional trainers. They offer a wide range of exercises as per the machine type.
These trainers also have different attachments or handle that the user can select as per the exercise they are doing.
These days, you can find a machine with combo units that add Smith machines with a functional trainer, like Inspire Ft2.
Another wonderful thing about the function trainer is: you don’t have to worry about injuries and damages.
See Also: Are Functional Trainers Good?
How to Choose the Best Functional Trainer?
Now that you know what functional trainers are let’s see the ways to select the best functional trainer. Finding the best-suited functional trainer is similar to finding other fitness equipment.
It’s better to focus more on the specs/features of the machine if you want to find a good quality machine. This will help you save money instead of wasting on another machine.
These are five things you should look for when buying a functional trainer:
- Weight Stacks
We will break down these factors below so you can get a better knowledge of it.
You need to check the dimensions before purchasing the machine. Sometimes, you wouldn’t be able to fit the machine in your room or space.
Even a compact trainer will take a chunk of places, and it would be worse if you live in a low-ceiling house.
So the first thing you need to do is to measure your space and compare it with the dimensions of the machine.
Commonly, these trainers have the dimensions about 7′ tall, 5′ wide, and 4-5′ long.
However, this is the machine dimension, so it doesn’t include the space you need for workouts and the bench.
The bench also varies in 4′ or more in length.
Many trainers with dual-stack feature weigh between 700-800 lb once assembled, which makes it extremely hard to move.
This is another reason why you need to decide the space before purchasing the machine.
#2. Weight Stacks
Most high-quality functional trainers use weight stacks, whereas certain budget trainers use plates.
When you are searching for a machine, you need to think about whether you need one or two weight stack system.
If you are interested in purchasing the best functional trainer, we would advise you to buy a machine with dual weight stacks.
Because you will have more workout choices with a dual-stack functional trainer, like bench press, cable crossover.
In regards to resistance, the stack’s weight will differ from one machine to another. This is an important factor to consider when you are comparing choices.
Standard weight stacks are 200 lb, 165 lb, or 150 lb.
Keep in mind that due to the special pulley system, the actual resistance you feel is half of the selected resistance.
That means if you want to go with 100 lb of the resistance, you should choose a functional trainer with at least 200 lb of resistance.
Due to this factor, most buyers prefer machines with high resistance.
But you are always able to upgrade the stacks by bearing an additional cost. Most of the time, you get the chance to purchase an additional 50 lb or for a stack.
FYI—certain trainers, such as NordicTrack Fusion CST, utilize magnetic resistance to offer smooth operation without needing traditional stack.
This is another important factor when choosing a good functional trainer. A high-end trainer must have pulleys that are easy to adjust.
This means that the pulleys should be adjustable for every inch as per the machine’s height.
It is essential because having different (lower and upper) pulley positions can provide more optimal exercises.
If you get a chance to test a machine in a sports goods store, you are lucky. Otherwise, you are not able to know how smooth or hard the pulleys move.
There are different amounts of attachments for different trainers. Certain brands may include a lot, whereas some will not include more than a pair.
This is why you need to check the number of attachments when checking the prices. For example, if you find two models at different prices, you might find more attachments in the machine.
Below are some of the common attachments:
- Triceps rope
- D handles
- Long bar
- Short bar
- Pull up bar
- EZ curl bar
- Multi-purpose belt
- Sports bar
- Ankle cuff
Benches are not a part of attachment; rather, they are sold individually.
Most trainers can adapt to leg developers and preacher curl attachment, and they are sold separately, too.
This is one of the essential specs that buyers should consider. You need to be cautious about the warranty when purchasing a functional trainer. The longer warranty is better.
It is directly based on the price. If you purchase an expensive trainer, you will get a longer warranty (in most cases).
The warranty usually divided into parts warranty and frames warranty, which vary from the price.
But it is always advisable to choose a functional trainer with at least a 2-year warranty. If this could not be met, you should think over again.
In short, you should make your decision on whether to purchase a budget machine with a lower warranty to save up money or go with a longer warranty.
My choice is the latter.
Our Top 7 Best Functional Trainers for Your Home Gym
Given below are our top 7 picks.
Inspire FT2 has a heavy-duty frame, solid, matte black frame; it’s a combination of both functions and appearance.
The trainer offers weight stacks of dual 165 lb, and the dimension of it is 61 x 57.9 x 87.8 inches.
However, you can get an extra weight stack of 50 lb as upgrades if you need more resistance (with extra cost).
It also has a built-in Smith machine (as a great add-on), which makes it more versatile.
The adjustable Smith bar, which has a weight multiplier, lets you engage in the bench press or squats that you’d be doing using the Smith machine.
It offers eight different pulley starting positions, so you can adjust them smoothly.
This is wonderful because most of the home trainers come with only two adjustable pulleys, which can only offer limited workout options.
The machine has seven unique handles, one water bottle holder, an exercise booklet, and 2×5 lb additional weights.
You can also find a pull-up bar that can be adjusted accordingly.
Inspire FT2 offers a lifetime warranty for the moving parts and a limited warranty for the frame.
This particular trainer can easily secure the top place on the list. Read the full review here.
- The frame has commercial grade
- Weight stacks of dual 165 lb
- Weight multiplier to double the resistance of the Smith machine
- Eight various pulley locations
- 32 various pulley positions
- A wide variety of accessories and attachments
- The pull up bar is adjustable
- Lifetime warranty
- Bench not added
- Complicated assembling procedures
It’s one of the best compact home gyms for home use.
You will not find the extra pulley positions and the Smith Bar like in the FT2. But then, the reduction of those attachments, don’t devalue the product; rather, FT1 works great.
You can get the product for the lower asking price.
This machine weight stacks of dual 165 lb even though it would be better if they were heavier. Just like the previous machine, you can add 50 lb with an additional cost.
There are 30 different positions offered by adjustable pulleys. You can also enjoy smooth action with easy adjustments.
The FT1 trainer has similar attachments like the FT2. However, there’s a difference in the pull-up bar, and you will not be able to adjust the height like the FT2.
It is fixed, and this bar helps you to focus on chin-ups and pull up with different grips.
Every tower is pre-assembled, so the assembling procedure of FT1 is easier than FT2.
This product is 54″ wide, which could be a good choice for those who have limited space. This is the only narrow dual-stack trainers.
Overall, the FT1 offers a warranty just like the FT2. If you are not planning to spend more, you can go with this option as it has the same quality as the FT2. Read the full review here.
- Dual adjustable pulleys
- Steel frame
- A wide variety of exercises
- Weight stacks of dual 165 lb
- Simple assembly
- 100% lifetime warranty
- Better if weight stacks were 200 lb
It takes a footprint of 55″ x 40″ when the machine is fully assembled.
This is another dual-stack functional trainer that has a variety of attachments and s pulls up bar, along with an ideal warranty.
Each weight stack can only provide 150 lb resistance (means can provide 75 lbs resistance to users), which I think is not enough for a high-level trainer.
But the weight stacks can be upgraded to 200 lbs each.
BodyCraft HFT has 31 pulley positions that are independent and can be fully adjusted (can rotate 180 degrees), allowing you to train at different angles and heights.
There are seven various handles and an exercise booklet that can be used as a guide.
You will also find a multi-grip pull bar with a different shape so that you can use it as a neutral grip.
If you have limited space, you should consider this product.
The warranty of this product is what makes it different from the other functional trainers.
You can get a lifetime warranty for the parts and frame when you purchase the HFT.
This could be the most affordable machine that comes with a lifetime warranty.
Summing up, HFT has similar specs and features of FT1. The stack weight is lower, but when considering the price and its warranty, you will not be able to find a better option.
- Steel frame
- Dual weight stacks
- Two adjustable pulleys
- Excellent warranty
- Easy assembly
- Only 150 lbs on each stack
The frame is made of heavy-duty 11-gauge 2″ x 3″ steel, making it extremely sturdy and solid.
You will be able to enjoy the weight lifting style of the machine.
The XMark trainer has the weight stacks of dual 200 lb. If you are interested in maximizing the resistance, this could be the right option.
The machine has two adjustable pulleys, which can provide 19 positions spaced at 3.5 inches each, allowing you to perform numerous compound or isolated workouts.
There are seven various attachments, although there will be differences in the handle compared to the previous models.
Also, the XMark has a built-in bar, allowing you to perform pull-up and chin-up.
This machine has a 1-year warranty for parts and a lifetime warranty for the frame.
With a lifetime warranty, 200 lbs dual weight stacks, and an affordable price, I can’t figure out any reasons making me ignore this beast. This is simply the best. Read the full review here.
- Dual weight stacks of 200 lb for each
- Smooth pulley system
- Extremely durable
- Lifetime warranty for frame
- Affordable price
- Assembly could be complicated
At a glance, you might not find the product as pretty as the ones we discussed above. The reason is it doesn’t have storage hooks or book holder like other products so that it may look like a sketch.
This affordable machine has dual weight stacks, 160 lb weight each, and you have the liberty to upgrade 210 lb with an additional cost.
Also, the product has a pair of single handles. You will not find short or long bars or even ankle cuff.
Even though there is no multi-grip option, you will find a straight pull up. This product is pretty straightforward, so that you can assemble it easily.
However, it is wider than the other machines we discussed, and the width is 62.6″.
The warranty period is one year for the parts and ten years for the frame.
Overall, if you have a tight budget and interested in a simple home gym, this could be the best choice.
- Durable and sturdy
- Dual weight stacks of 160 lbs
- Two adjustable pulleys make it switch workout smoothly
- Simple assembly
- Reasonable price
- Only has 1 set of handles
This is one of the best trainers that you can get from a global brand—Life Fitness—which is often seen in commercial gyms because it’s well-known in providing high-quality cardio and strength equipment.
Made of heavy-duty material, Life Fitness G7 will be a long-lasting functional trainer. Its frame is well-coated to avoid scratches and damages.
The weight stacks have two stacks of 150 lb weight, allowing you to engage in regular exercises with this machine.
The dual adjustable pulleys, which accommodate 20 positions, help the user to perform up to 55 exercises.
Also, it comes with various attachments, including a long bar, a curls rod, a short bar, thigh straps, handles straps, and a pull-up bar.
The cable is extremely durable and easy to use. And this machine comes with video guides and tutorials, which help beginners start right away.
You will get ten years warranty for the steel frame and three years warranty for the parts.
Overall, this could be a good choice if you want to get a trainer with a reasonable budget. Here is the full review.
- Ideal for heavy lifters
- Durable and sturdy
- Pulleys with 20 various positions
- Provides 55 various exercises
- Dual pulley system for smooth exercising
- Some buyers aren’t happy with the parts warranty
- Limited chest exercises
It provides the possibility of engaging in all kinds of full-body workouts.
Exercises such as pull-ups, lunges, shoulder, chest, wings, biceps, triceps, legs, and rotations are achievable from this home gym.
This trainer will keep you hooked to the workouts. You will also encounter SCS bench press, leg extension, and preacher curl.
Sport handle, triceps rope, ankle cuff, long bar, and curl bar are some of the attachments you can get from the machine.
Made of heavy-duty 2″x 4″ oval and 3″ round 11 gauge tubular steel, the bearing system of Inspire SCS is responsive and efficient, allowing users to engage in a series of smooth exercises.
The dual pulley system has divided tension so you can let all the energy into your workouts.
Not only that, but it also lets you adjust the motion while working out.
You don’t have to purchase an additional Olympic bar as this product offers one.
And you will receive lifetime limited warranty for residential use or 10-years warranty for light-commercial use when purchasing this trainer.
Another prominent feature is the adjustable height of this trainer, which helps you set the height according to the way you want.
- Dual pulley system
- The height is adjustable
- Steel bearing offers smooth and efficient exercise experience
- Commendable warranty
- No idea for performing squats
Finally, we have offered the complete guide, but remember your choice should depend on your personal preference while focusing on the reviews. You might already be impressed with the versatility of the machines.
So when you are settling for a trainer, you must consider specs, features, warranty, and the price. Gladly, most of the trainers we discussed above are in the similar price range.
Thus, you wouldn’t have a hard time settling for a price range. Now, you can find the best functional trainer by considering the above guide.