What Is The Best Cable Machine For Home Gym Setups?

Plenty of people have always had home gym setups within their households. But, the number of people looking for good gym equipment throughout this unprecedented time in the world’s history has shot up exponentially. That creates a challenge for people everywhere trying to figure out what piece of equipment is the best to put in their home gym. You need to learn about different exercises you’ll want to be able to do, like a lat pulldown or pull ups, as well as brands of equipment—Body Solid, Gold’s Gym, Bodycraft, Valor Fitness, Bowflex, and more.

Source: flickr.com

One of the toughest parts of creating a workout space in your home that provides everything you want it to for your workout routines is having enough room. Most of us aren’t able to have a different machine for every type of exercise we want to do. The amount of space you have or don’t have will be one of the biggest determinants for what piece of equipment is going to be right for your home. That’s why a cable machine is such a good addition for your home gym setup. It’s a space saving machine for your home that gives you the means to do many types of exercises for working every different muscle group.

For Starters—What Is a Cable Machine?

In general terms, a cable machine is a piece of exercise equipment that lifts weights through a pulley system. There are different types. You’ll find some that are only meant to do a couple of types of movements, such as pushing and pulling, while others have more than one series of cables for different kinds of action. You can also go with a cable crossover machine. You’ll find versions that are free standing or wall mounted options. You’ll also find them in all sorts of price ranges. There’s more budget friendly equipment, like from Body Solid or high end equipment like NordicTrack. Body Solid still does what you need it to, just without all the bells and whistles. And, for some you can customize the weight stack with different weight plates.

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Are Cable Machines Good?

Cable machines are good. They have some specific advantages for those who like to lift weights. The pulley system allows you to lift heavy safely even without a spotter. If you find yourself in trouble, you can drop the weights and the weight plates will just drop back down onto the weight stack. It’ll be loud but it won’t not unsafe. 

Using a cable machine also helps the person who is new to lifting keep good form and execute the exercise correctly, which helps to avoid any injury. You get really good isolation of the muscle group you are working, too, so you can develop it more quickly. If you get a home gym cable machine for your home that has various pulley system options, you can work every different muscle group in your body.

What a cable machine isn’t as good at is allowing you to develop those smaller muscles that help to stabilize and support your body when you’re weight training. The cables and cams on the machine do all of the stabilizing and supporting for your body so those little muscles aren’t getting the work they would be if you were using free weights. If you want your body solid and completely stable, you can use your home gym cable machine and some free weights in between.

Are Free Weights Better Than Cable Machines?

Both of these kinds of equipment have their strengths and weaknesses. One isn’t truly better than the other. They’re each better than and worse than the other in certain areas. 

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Free weights are better than cable machines at:

  • Providing a cost-effective home workout option
  • Pulling the entire body into the workout
  • Working more than one muscle at a time

Cable machines are better than free weights at:

  • Isolating one muscle at a time
  • Helping to avoid injury by ensuring proper form
  • Providing a time-efficient workout

Do Cable Machines Build Muscle?

A cable machine will help you build muscle. It will allow you to isolate the muscle you want to for more rapid growth to that one area. But, as was mentioned above, the cable machine takes the work away from the smaller stabilizer muscles, so you won’t get the extended muscle growth in the entire group like you will from free weights.

One way to combat some of the takeaway of the stabilizer muscle growth is to use a cable crossover machine or a crossover station on your home gym. Using the cable cross pulley system requires you to stabilize a bit more because holding your form is more difficult than when using the other functional cable systems. Your body does have to do more to keep the cables in the right position when you’re using a cable crossover machine or crossover station.

Some home gym cable machines have a traditional pull up bar or chin up bar where you can do regular pull ups with no help from the pulley system. This will definitely ensure you build muscle, including the stabilizer muscles it takes to do pull ups.

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How Much Is A Cable Machine?

There is a wide range of prices for cable machines. Not only are there different levels of quality, but there are also many different versions of these machines. You can find cable machines going for a couple hundred dollars that give you the option of a few different exercises, or machines that cost thousands of dollars and provide angles and attachments that will allow you to work your entire body. 

You’ll need to start your search for home gyms by deciding how much you can spend. Decide what features you have to have. Do you want a pulldown cable that lets you do lat pulldown exercises, or a crossover station that will allow you to do all kinds of different exercises including lat pulldown? What about pull ups? Do you want something that helps you build toward doing pull ups or just a straight bar for it, or do you just not care about pull ups at all? Do you want a functional cable pulley system that can be adjusted down to the ground and can be used with an ankle strap for leg exercises? You may also have to spend more if you want heavier weight plates and weight stacks. 

If you want to stay under $1,000, Bowflex, Weider, and Gold’s Gym all make home gym cable machines that fall in this price range.

What Is The Best Home Gym Equipment To Buy?

The best home gym equipment is going to vary for different types of equipment. Here are the home gym pieces that top the list for their categories.

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  • Best cable machine – Bowlflex Blaze Home Gym 
  • Best treadmill – ProForm Pro 2000 Treadmill
  • Best stationary bike – Exerpeutic Folding Upright Bike
  • Best dumbbells – Powerblock Elite
  • Best resistance bands – Therabands
  • Best exercise ball – TheraBand Exercise and Stability Ball

What Is The Best Cable Crossover Machine?

Cable crossover machines are popular pieces of equipment in any gym. They’re great because any level of lifter can use them safely and effectively. They also allow for a wide variety of exercises and full range of motion in all different angles. 

One thing to remember with a cable crossover machine is they need a decent amount of space. They’re wide to allow for you to stand in the center of the functional cable system. When you lift with a cable cross machine, you sometimes have to extend your arms all the way out. You can also get a cable crossover machine that has other functional trainer stations on each end. Add that to the space needed for the weight plates and the weight stacks and you’re looking at a large piece of equipment. You’ll just need to assess the space you have and make sure to measure properly.

So, adding one of these to your home gym is certainly a good idea. But, what is the best cable crossover machine for your setup? We’ll give you the best for different budget levels so you can find one that works for your household.

  • Inexpensive—Body-Solid Powerline PCCO90X Cable Crossover Machine
  • Mid-range—IRON COMPANY BodyCraft HFT Functional Trainer Home Gym – Dual Adjustable Pulley Machine
  • Expensive—BodyCraft Jones Light Commercial Complete System
  • Overall—FreeMotion Dual Cable EXT
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What Is The Cable Machine Called?—Does It Have Other Names?

You’ll often hear of a cable machine being called just that—a cable machine. However, it also is referred to as a pulley machine, sometimes. Other than that, people will mention it as a home gym system.

How Do You Adjust The Height Of A Cable Machine?

You’ll need to adjust the height of your cable machine when you’re doing different kinds of exercises. Before you do that, make sure you take the pin out of the weight stack. Once you’ve done that, follow these steps:

  1. Unlock the mechanism holding the pulley in its current position. Usually you’ll either need to pull a pin or turn a knob for this.
  2. While holding the pulley in place, remove the pin that keeps the pulley secured to the tower.
  3. Raise or lower the pulley to its next position. 
  4. Reinsert the pin to secure the pulley in its new position. Lock it in place.
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What If It Breaks—How Do You Fix A Cable Machine?

If you have a cable break on you, the machine isn’t going to work properly until it is fixed. You can’t really repair the cable itself. That’s dangerous and can result in injury. Your best option is to replace the broken cable. You can do this by either purchasing a replacement cable from a retailer, which can be kind of expensive, or you can make a new cable out of materials you can find at a hardware store.

How Can I Make A Cable Machine At Home?

You might find that making your own cable machine is the most cost-effective option for your needs. If you’re good at DIY projects, it’s not a bad idea. Here’s what you’ll need.

  • 2 heavy-duty screw hooks
  • 2 sections of 3/16 steel cable (add a foot more than your ceiling height for each)
  • 2 pulley wheels with 125 lb. grade at least
  • 2 24” sections of chain (heavy grade)
  • Electrical tape
  • 4 utility links (heavy grade)
  • 4 1/2” cable clamps
  • Fitness band with handles
  • Knife, scissors, or box cutter

You’ll start by screwing one of the hooks into the ceiling where there’s enough support to keep the machine from falling on you. Then put one of the pulleys through on the hook. Next, you’ll thread a cable through the hanging pulley.

Make a loop with the end of the cable and wrap it with electrical tape. Apply a cable clamp over the tape. Do the same thing to the other end of the cable.

Put 10 lbs. of weight on one of your chains. Attach the two ends of the chain with a utility link. Then, attach the link to one of the loops you created. Take your other utility link and put it on the other end of the cable.

Remove the handles from your fitness band by cutting them off. Then attach those to the utility link on the opposite ends. Voila! You have your own home-made cable machine. You can test it out by grasping the handles and doing a Pulldown maneuver to see if it works properly.

We will caution you to only take this project on if you’re good at building already. Building a piece of equipment to workout with is risky if it’s not done properly. You could end up with a serious injury if you don’t get it right. Many people make a version of their own cable crossover machine. It’s probably one of the easiest to make. However, you still need to take all precautions and do it according to recommended instructions.

Source: flickr.com

You Can Choose The Best Cable Machine For Home Gym Setups For Your Needs

Look for a cable machine that fits the space you have available. You also want to stick to your budget. There are cable machines that range in price so there’s something to fit most budgets. To get the most bang for your buck, look for a machine that gives you a lot of different options for exercises, not just movements for a couple of muscle groups. Whatever your fitness goals are, a cable machine is a good addition to your home gym setup. It gives you a safe way to isolate specific muscles you want to workout, even if you’re exercising alone.


Is Body Solid a good brand of home gym workout machine?

Body Solid is a manufacturer of gym equipment that’s been in the business of making functional trainer machines for quite some time. They make everything from a simple cable crossover machine that is only for doing cable cross exercises, such as the Powerline PCCO90X which is a plate loaded crossover machine, to all sorts of other workout machines. You’ll find, too, that Body Solid equipment is generally affordable. For instance, the Body Solid Powerline PCCO90X is only about $600 on Amazon. Compare that to something like the Bodycraft HFT Functional Trainer, which to be fair has more to it like dual weight stacks and other attachments, you’ll see that the price tag for this machine is a upwards of $2,000. Body Solid is a good choice for those looking to stick to a lower budget.

Is Valor Fitness a good brand of home gym equipment?

Valor Fitness offers a lot of equipment for your home that doesn’t take a ton of space to accommodate. The prices for Valor Fitness equipment are on par with Body Solid. You can get a functional trainer crossover machine that is wall mounted or one that is free standing. They work with weight plates so there aren’t any weight stacks included in the machine. Valor Fitness also sells free weights and weight racks you can add to your home gym. 

Which is better—Body Solid or Valor Fitness equipment?

Body Solid has a wider array of functional trainer options than Valor Fitness does. Their pricing is similar, as is their quality, but if you’re looking for more variety, go with Body Solid. Valor Fitness is more targeted toward those who are looking for small pieces of equipment they can fit in the corner of a room and items that aren’t weighed down with heavy weight stacks. Valor Fitness equipment may be better suited for those who live in apartments or condos.

What is a functional trainer?

This is a machine that functions through the use of pulley systems. It allows you to do many varieties of exercises and is weighted with either weight stacks or weight plates.

What kind of exercises can you do on a functional trainer?

This will vary based on what type of machine you have. Here are some of the exercises you can do on various functional trainers:

  • Barbell curl
  • Shoulder press
  • Lat pulldown
  • Squat row
  • Deadlift
  • Reverse fly
  • Hip abduction 
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What’s better, weight stack or plate loaded?

This could just be a preference, but it could also be based on your budget. Machines that come with a weight stack or two will cost more than those that are weight plate loaded. The difference here is that the weight stack machine comes with all the weights already built in. The plate loaded machine requires that you purchase a separate set of weight plates to use. You’ll then have to manually load the plates onto the machine to your desired weight. The weight stack machine only requires that you move a pin to change the weight. 

Another difference here comes as the weight of the machine itself. A weight stack machine is much tougher to move than a plate loaded one. They’re also heavier for shipping so you may have to pay more to ship a weight stack machine. 

If you’re going with a weight stack machine, you can also choose between those with one or those with more than one. That’s another thing that will change the price and the ability to lift heavier.

Last Updated on June 5, 2021 by Marie Miguel

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