When you need to get the absolute most out of your equipment—for a commercial gym or team locker room or anything in between—it’s essential to know exactly what to look for when investing in a functional trainer machine. Priorities generally fall into two categories: adaptability and durability.
Adaptability is important because it translates to more engaging and efficient workouts, appealing to members or players with different goals and body types. Durability is important because tough, well-designed equipment can withstand the wear and tear associated with constant use.
In this guide, we will take a closer look at both of these considerations plus more to help you make the best decision when buying a functional trainer.
Look for adaptability in a functional trainer
The customisable resistance and attachment options of functional trainers allow members to tailor their workouts to their fitness levels, ensuring a challenging and safe environment for everyone. This adaptability also fosters a sense of inclusivity, making members feel comfortable and motivated to achieve their goals in the gym.
How do functional trainers adapt to different body types?
Strength training is about pushing your limits, no matter what they are. Do you need a functional trainer to help people reach these limits? If your customers have different body types and fitness levels, absolutely.
A functional trainer’s weight stack capacity sets the limit for the maximum level of resistance the machine can provide. A greater capacity allows for more resistance to meet the needs of the strongest athletes, but it is especially important for exercises targeting larger muscle groups, such as squats, deadlifts and chest presses, where even your smaller users can sometimes exceed the maximum resistance on a lower-end machine.
A greater weight stack capacity also allows for “progressive overload” in strength training: as users get stronger, they can increase the resistance by adding more weight plates to the stack. This continuous, incremental progression is crucial for safe and effective training regardless of body type or starting fitness level. The benefit multiplies when a high-capacity weight stack meets a 2:1 cable ratio like in the Force Usa G20 Pro.
A machine’s cable ratio refers to the mechanical advantage provided by the pulley system, which determines the amount of resistance a user experiences when pulling on a handle or attachment.
If a functional trainer has a cable ratio of 1:1, it means that for every kilogram of weight loaded on the weight stack, the user will experience the same amount of resistance on their end of the cable when performing an exercise.
If a functional trainer has a cable ratio of 2:1, for every kilogram of weight loaded on the weight stack, the user will experience half the resistance, or 0.5 kilograms when performing the same exercise, making the weight feel lighter.
This means that the starting weight of a 2:1 system is half the weight of one plate, as are the increments, which allows users to finely calibrate the resistance to their exact challenge level. The cable ratio also determines the travel distance of the handle or attachment. A 2:1 ratio doubles the effective length of the cable. Taller users and those using the machine for exercises that require a large range of motion will benefit the most from a higher cable ratio.
How do functional trainers adapt to different workouts?
Having more stations and attachments on a functional trainer significantly enhances its adaptability, enabling a greater range of different workouts. Each station and attachment offers unique exercise possibilities, catering to diverse fitness levels and targeting various muscle groups.
With more options at their disposal, users can customise their workouts to suit their specific goals and preferences. They can focus on strength training, cardiovascular fitness, functional fitness, or a combination, ensuring a personalised and well-rounded training experience.
If you’re a coach, trainer or other fitness professional, the more stations you have on your machines, the better you can make the workout experience. Take advantage of a machine with multiple stations by creating an efficient and challenging circuit for one person, or even run a small-group circuit if your goal is to keep multiple people engaged at the same time.
Varied attachments allow users to train progressively. They can start with basic exercises and gradually advance to more challenging movements, promoting continuous improvement and preventing workout plateaus and injuries.
Look for durability in a functional trainer
The last thing your customers or players want is to have to hold back in their training because they are worried your equipment can’t stand up to their workouts. Short of abusing the machine, some exercises require that the movements be explosive or the load heavy (or both).
Choose a machine that has not only the durability to stand up to years of uninhibited movement, but also the heft to reassure you that it’s not going anywhere. Look for models with a heavy-gauge rolled-steel frame (like the frame of a pickup truck), a high-capacity weight stack for a low centre of gravity and feet that can be bolted to the floor.
No matter who is working out at your gym, it goes without saying that safety is a priority. Choose a machine that will hold up to whatever your customers or athletes throw at it.
What about functional trainer maintenance?
Consider the design of the cable and pulley system. Every single exercise on a functional trainer relies on the pulleys working well, so it is important that the machine can handle thousands of repetitions. You want the resistance to come from the weight, not friction between the parts. Pulleys with bushings require monitoring and maintenance since the bushing is wearable.
If this is something you would rather not worry about, choose a machine that has frictionless pulleys made with ball bearings instead, like the commercial-grade machines by Body-Solid. These designs also tend to be quieter than bushing-style ones—no one wants to work out in a creaky old gym.
Which functional trainer is right for my gym?
When you buy a functional trainer for your gym, you are one step closer to transforming your business into a dynamic fitness hub. Our knowledgeable sales team will help you make the best decision according to your needs, budget, and size of your gym. We’re happy to walk you through different installation options and answer any questions you may have about what experts recommend and customers rave about.
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