Setting up a Functional Trainer or Dual Adjustable Pulley in a Home Gym

March 17, 2020

Setting up a Functional Trainer or Dual Adjustable Pulley in a Home Gym can be easier than you think once you have been armed with the right information. 

Having a functional trainer, also sometimes called a cable crossover machine (incorrectly) , or cable gym, in your home gym is a great home gym solution. This kind of machine, enables you to have a full body workout, all on one machine and with minimal impact to your joints.

How Much Space do you Need for Functional Trainer at Home?

A Functional Trainer, even a small one, takes up minimal space. Even so make certain, before you buy one, that the dimensions fit the space you have available. Most trainers, used in the home, come in a size of approx. 

1.5m to 2.1m wide (some have a Smith Machine or Power Rack Capacity)

by 1.5m deep (some use a weight stack, making them smaller, and some have a free weight pulley at the back of the machine).

2.25m tall. To be comfortable when working out, you should preferably have a 20cm space on either side of your machine.

If you add a bench, you will need another 50cm to 70cm so check your area to make sure you can accommodate a bench.

These machines are really heavy when fully assembled, close to 400kg and moving them is not an enjoyable option. You, of course, also need to make sure that the floor you are placing the machine on, can handle the weight and is suitably reinforced or solid.

A Functional Trainer works with pulleys, and can be used for a great number of exercises such as push-ups, pull-ups, lunges, rotations, squats, in fact, they can help you develop any muscle group in your body. For instance, you can:

Develop your legs with squats, leg raises, deadlifts and kickbacks

Strengthen your back with rows, pushdowns and pulldowns

Work and build a powerful chest with all manner of presses and cable fly’s ranging from an intense decline to an intense incline

Strengthen your arms with bicep and hammer curls and tricep extensions, overhead triceps extensions

Broaden those shoulders with presses, fly’s crossovers raises and rows

Plus there are a massive number of other exercises for which you can use them as well. This is a truly one of the most versatile machines ever developed. 

This type of machine was initially mainly used by clinicians and therapists in sports rehabilitation training, as it enables one to target specific problem areas and muscle groups as it is perfect for targeting isolated muscle groups to strengthen them to their optimum flexibility.

These machines are also great for core strengthening as they allow you to perform a number of rotational movements. 

A good quality, sturdy Functional trainer is mandatory if you are working out alone, as you do not need a spotter and you do not need to be concerned about being stuck on a bench or buried under plates. You are in total control of the weight you wish to use by making a simple adjustment. This machine comes with all the weights you could require, so there is no need for an extra outlay.

Here are some suggestions to consider when wanting to buy a functional trainer:

Some machines come with one weight stack and some with two. The best option is a machine with two weight stacks which allows you to develop both sides of the body equally.

Test the machine you consider purchasing, to ensure that the pulleys work smoothly so that any movements are quick and easy. The pulleys should be fully adjustable and a good quality machine will allow height adjustments approximately every 70cm and it is important that you can easily reach both the highest and lowest adjustment setting.

A chin-up bar, which has varied and multiple grips, is a must as this is an important exercise. 

Also consider a machine which has a long pulley travel, as these aid with performing power lunges and other exercises which require a large range of motion.

The machine should have multiple levels of adjustments, including many height adjustments, and these should be easy and simple to perform. A machine which is difficult to adjust becomes a problem and often causes adjustments to be avoided. No-one wants to struggle with a machine when having a work-out.

The machine you choose must be well-balanced, and feel solid, so that you feel safe performing your exercise routines.

The Functional Trainer should also allow for storage of all the attachments, so that they are easily available and don’t get lost. 

Before you decide to purchase a particular machine, check as to the type of attachments which come with the machine, and are included in the price. 

Attachments which are normally part of a good quality machine are:

A long bar. This attaches to both pulleys, and functions like a barbell.

A short bar. This attaches only to one side

Sport bar. This is a small, straight bar which allows you to perform specific moves used in sport.

EZ curl bar. A contoured bar which is used for bicep curls

Pull-up bar. These come in various kind of shapes and are fitted to the front.

D handles. These are part of every trainer and allow you to perform most exercises

Triceps rope. This is an attachment which allows you to perform bicep curls and triceps extensions. 

Ankle cuff. For hip strengthening exercises

Multi-purpose belt. Used to assist with pull-ups

Functional Trainer accessories normally, sold separately are:

Weights or Gym Benches: Such as the Force USA MyRack FID bench which comes with a curl attachment as well as leg developer including leg curls and leg extension. 

What Warranty should you expect from a Functional Trainer?

Ensure that the Functional Trainer comes with a strong warranty. The warranty is usually split up into frame and parts. Many quality trainers will give a lifetime warranty on the frame, but a 10-year warranty is acceptable. Some high quality Functional Trainers will even give a lifetime warranty on the parts, although, mostly parts come with a 2-year warranty. It does not pay, in the long run, to buy a cheaper machine with a poor warranty, as this could end up costing you a great deal more in the long run.

If you cannot try out a particular machine, which you are interested in purchasing, in a real setting, make sure you read reputable reviews to enable you to make the correct choice for your requirements.

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