HomeBest of 20249 Best Functional Trainers For Your Home Gym (2024)

9 Best Functional Trainers For Your Home Gym (2024)

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A functional trainer is one of the most versatile pieces of fitness equipment – you’ve probably seen or used one in a commercial gym. They’re great for upper and lower body exercises, including biceps curls, triceps pushdowns, pec flies, pull-ups, goblet squats, and much more.

While I don’t consider a functional trainer an essential piece of home gym equipment, adding one transformed my training and is now one of my most-used pieces. I’m confident it can do the same for you.

We’ve tested every type of functional trainer, from full-sized machines to portable squat rack attachments. We’ve used them for cable flies, cable curls, triceps pushdowns, Pallof presses, and dozens of other movements. Here are some of the things we considered when making our list (more below):

Weight Stack: How much weight does the machine offer? What is the weight ratio?

Height: How tall is the unit? How many adjustment holes are there? Can you get a full range of motion?

Pulley Quality: Are the pulleys made of aluminum or nylon/plastic? How smooth is the cable travel?

In this article, I’ll share our top picks for the best functional trainers for different price points, training goals, space limitations, and more. Whether you’re an advanced lifter or just someone looking to stay fit at home, we’ve got you covered.

What’s the Best Functional Trainer?

We found the REP FT-5000 2.0 to have the best blend of features, performance, and value. We love the larger dual weight stacks and the higher number of cable positions compared to others. We also like the aluminum cables and multi-grip pull-up station for even more versatility. In our experience, there isn’t a better functional trainer for the money.

Our Top Picks

Best Functional Trainer Overall: REP FT-5000 2.0

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Best Value Functional Trainer: Titan Fitness Functional Trainer

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Best Budget Functional Trainer: Bells of Steel Functional Trainer

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Best Rack-Mounted Functional Trainer: REP Ares

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Best Smart Functional Trainer: Tonal

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Most Versatile Functional Trainer: Force USA G20 Pro

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Best Compact Functional Trainer: Torque Fitness F-9 Fold-Away Functional Trainer

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Best Premium Functional Trainer: Prime Fitness Functional Trainer

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Best Portable Functional Trainer: ANCORE Cable System

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Best Functional Trainer Overall: REP FT-5000 2.0

Best Overall
REP FT-5000 2.0 Functional Trainer

The REP FT-5000 2.0 is a high-quality functional trainer with big weight stacks and premium features at an affordable price.

Key Specs

  • Weight Capacity: Dual 224 lb stacks
  • Size: 85.5″ H x 58″ W x 36″ D
  • Weight Ratio: 2:1
  • Total Weight: 875 lbs
  • Height Options: 21
  • Included Accessories: Multi-grip pull-up handles, D-handles x2, attachments storage, and 2.75 lb micro plates x 4
  • Warranty: Lifetime on frame / 1-year on moving parts


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Summary

The REP FT-5000 2.0 is our top pick overall. This functional trainer has large weight stacks, great adjustability, and a multi-handle pull-station. It’s hard to beat for the price and ships free.

One of the most impressive things about this machine is its quality. Built with 11-gauge steel, the FT-5000 is one of the heaviest-duty functional trainers on the market – especially at this price. It weighs 875 lbs and feels rock-solid at every weight.

REP FT-5000 2.0 | New Features and Overview

Another big benefit of this functional trainer is the dual 224 lb weight stacks. Most at this price top out at 200 lbs or less, making this a great option for those who want to build strength. Like others, it has a 2:1 ratio, meaning you will feel 50% of the load. For example, 224 lbs feels like 112 lbs.

While the starting weight of 12.5 lbs is odd and heavier than some would prefer, the 5.5 lb weight increments allow for better progressive overload than most. REP also includes four 2.75 lb micro plates for even better weight control.

I love that REP includes a multi-handle pull-up station. It’s a better design than others, giving you three widths and options for supinated, pronated, and neutral orientations. However, I wish it were knurled instead of rubber-coated.

REP FT-5000 Functional Trainer

Compared to the first generation, v2 includes 21 height options (vs. 16) with a top height of 72.8″ and a low height of 13.7″. This provides plenty of room for triceps pushdowns for tall lifters and a better range of motion on cable curls for short lifters. They also replaced plastic pulleys with aluminum for better durability.

One downside to this unit is the included D-handles could be better. I recommend upgrading to REP’s higher-end but affordable D-handles, which are significantly better.

In my experience, there isn’t a better functional trainer in the $2,500 price range for everything you get with the REP FT-5000. It also has a lifetime warranty on the frame.

Pros

  • Heavier 225 lb weight stacks with 2:1 ratio
  • Great adjustability with 21 positions
  • Ample height for tall lifters
  • Versatile pull-up system with 3 handles
  • 11-gauge construction
  • Free shipping w/ a strong warranty

Cons

  • The included D-handles are poor quality
  • The 12.5 lb starting weight may be too heavy for some

Best Value Functional Trainer: Titan Fitness Functional Trainer

Best Value
Titan Fitness Functional Trainer

The Titan Fitness Functional Trainer is a well-built machine with dual 200 lb weight stacks, a pull-up station, and a nice included attachment set.

Key Specs

  • Weight Capacity: Dual 200 lb stacks
  • Size: 82″ H x 34″ W x 44″ D
  • Weight Ratio: 2:1
  • Total Weight: 672 lbs
  • Height Options: 20
  • Included Accessories: Multi-grip pull-up bar, short bar, long bar, ankle strap, dual stirrup handles, rope handles, D-handles x4, and a V-bar
  • Warranty: 1 year


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Summary

The Titan Fitness Functional Trainer is a value-packed option with nice features and one of the most comprehensive attachment sets on the market.

This machine offers dual 200 lb weight stacks, putting it in the upper tier for functional trainers in the price range. It’s lighter than the REP FT-5000, and the 10 lb increments aren’t as versatile, but you can easily attach lighter weight plates to the front of the stack for micro-jumps.

One feature I appreciate about this design is that it’s slightly wider than most functional trainers. At 64″, this feels more like a proper cable crossover machine when performing things like pec flies. With 20 height options, it offers great adjustability, but the slightly lower height may limit the range of motion for taller lifters.

Titan Fitness Functional Trainer

I love the traditional angled lat pull-up bar. While it’s not as versatile as the FT-5000, I like the shape and prefer the knurling over rubber-coated handles.

Where I think the Titan delivers a ton of value is with the included attachment set. Most functional trainers include some handles and maybe a bar or two, but the quality usually isn’t great. Titan provides 7 handle attachments, and the quality is quite good compared to others.

Overall, this is an excellent home gym option. I still think the REP FT-5000 is the better choice for the same price, but there’s solid value here.

Pros

  • Dual 200 lb stacks with a 2:1 ratio
  • Includes seven attachments
  • Classic lat-style pull-up bar
  • Great width for cable crossover movements
  • Aluminum pulleys
  • Affordable price with free shipping

Cons

  • 10 lb increments are larger than some
  • 1 year warranty is shorter than most
  • Larger footprint than some

Best Budget Functional Trainer: Bells of Steel Functional Trainer

Best Budget
Bells of Steel Functional Trainer

The Bells of Steel Functional Trainer is a budget-friendly option with dual 160 lb weight stacks, a multi-grip pull-up bar, and a lifetime warranty.

Key Specs

  • Weight Capacity: Dual 160 lb stacks
  • Size: 81″ H x 53″ W x 30″ D
  • Weight Ratio: 2:1
  • Total Weight: 560 lbs
  • Height Options: 16
  • Included Accessories: Multi-grip pull-up bar, D-handles x2, and attachment storage
  • Warranty: Limited lifetime


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Summary

The Bells of Steel Functional Trainer is my top budget choice. It’s not as heavy-duty as pricier options, but it has a solid warranty and includes some higher-end features.

This machine has dual 160 lb weight stacks, which is less than most. I like the 10 lb starting weight, but there are better options if you’re wanting to lift heavy. The 14-gauge steel also isn’t as strong as more expensive options, but the lighter weight stack doesn’t require much thicker.

Bells of Steel Functional Trainer

The footprint has pros and cons. On the plus side, its more compact frame is ideal for smaller home gyms. It’s both shallower and narrower than most. However, the height can limit tall lifters on some movements, and the 53″ width isn’t as good for crossover training.

I like that this unit features aluminum pulleys, which is more durable than the plastic pulleys on most budget option. I also like the multi-grip pull-up bar, which offers neutral, supinated, and pronated handles at three widths.

The biggest downside to the Bells of Steel Functional trainer is the smaller weight stack. If you’re not very tall, the other features are on par with higher-end models. The fact you get a lifetime warranty on a machine that costs under $2,000 makes this the best budget option for home gym owners.

Pros

  • Less than $2,000 shipped
  • Compact size is great for smaller gyms
  • Aluminum pulleys
  • Includes a multi-grip pull-up bar
  • Great warranty for the price

Cons

  • Smaller weight stacks than most
  • Height may limit range of motion for taller lifters
  • Doesn’t include as many accessories

Best Rack-Mounted Functional Trainer: REP Ares

Best Rack-Mounted
REP Ares
The REP Ares is a rack-attached functional trainer with a lat pulldown/low row, big weight stacks, and outstanding versatility.
Key Specs
  • Weight Capacity: Dual 224 lb stacks
  • Size: 85.5″ H x 58″ W x 36″ D
  • Weight Ratio: 2:1
  • Total Weight: 875 lbs
  • Height Options: 21
  • Included Accessories: Multi-grip pull-up handles, D-handles x2, attachments storage, and 2.75 lb micro plates x 4
  • Warranty: Lifetime on frame / 1-year on moving parts

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Summary

The REP Ares is simply one of the best and most versatile machines you can add to a home gym. I’ve owned the Ares since 2022 and use it often in my training. There are some limitations in how it mounts, but it has huge weight stacks and takes up a minimal footprint.

To start, the Ares only works for REP PR-4000 and PR-5000 racks. While that’s a downside if you already own a different squat rack, it’s a great selling point if you’re looking to buy your first one. The Ares fits seamlessly inside the rack, working with any height or depth options, and takes up practically no additional footprint.

REP Ares Cable System and Functional Trainer

This is a selectorized machine with dual 260 or 310 lb weight stacks. With a 2:1 ratio, it offers the most impressive weight capacity for a mainstream functional trainer. It also starts at 10 lbs and uses 5 lb increments for excellent versatility.

The most unique quality of the Ares is that the trolleys fit on the front uprights of your rack, giving you more attachment points than others. For instance, I have 34 height options on my 93″ PR-5000. These trolleys have 180-degree swivels for excellent range of motion, and the aluminum pulleys are very smooth.

Cable Crossover on REP Ares

Another big selling point of this machine is that it has a full-blown lat pulldown & low row in the middle. By connecting the two stacks, you can achieve a max effective load of 310 lbs, even with a 2:1 ratio. REP includes 2.5 lb micro plates and several attachments, including a low row foot attachment.

There isn’t a better rack-attached functional on the market than the Ares. It’s similarly priced to standalone functional trainers but takes up less space, has better adjustability, more versatility, and a bigger weight stack.

Pros

  • Excellent versatility
  • Acts as multiple machines in one
  • Huge weight stacks up to 310 lbs each
  • Smooth aluminum pulleys
  • Includes several accessories
  • Ships for free

Cons

  • Only fits the REP PR-4000 or PR-5000
  • There are less expensive options
  • Assembly isn’t as easy as others

Best Smart Functional Trainer: Tonal

Best Interactive
Tonal Home Gym

Tonal is the gold standard of smart functional trainers. It offers 200 lbs of magnetic resistance, articulating arms, and AI strength programming.

Key Specs

  • Weight Capacity: Dual 100 lb arms
  • Size: 51″ H x 21.5″ W x 5.25″ D
  • Weight Ratio: N/A (magnetic resistance)
  • Total Weight: 150 lbs
  • Height Options: 9 (+ 6 angle and 6 rotation options)
  • Included Accessories: Optional accessories include smart handles, smart bar, rope handles, bench, roller, and a workout mat
  • Warranty: 2 years on trainer & touch screen / 1 year on smart accessories


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Summary

Tonal is one of the leaders in smart home gym technology. This compact functional trainer has articulating arms and mounts to your wall, saving a lot of space compared to others.

The biggest reason to buy a Tonal is for the interactive technology, large workout database, and AI capabilities. You read that right – this machine uses artificial intelligence to automatically adapt to your strength levels. It also has dynamic weight modes like ‘Spotter’ to reduce the weight and assist you when you’re struggling.

Unlike most functional trainers that use physical weight, Tonal uses 200 lbs of digital weight (100 lbs per arm). The biggest benefits of digital weight are increased time under tension (less momentum), lighter construction, and better safety if you have kids.

Tonal Smart Home Gym

You can adjust Tonal’s arms in three ways: vertically (9 positions), horizontally (6 positions), and rotationally (6 positions). With so many options, you can use it for a lot of movements, including cross-body and single-side exercises.

You can also use several smart accessories for movement variety and interactivity with the machine. For example, you can use the long bar for squats, bench presses, deadlifts, and more.

As you might expect with a smart functional trainer, the Tonal is expensive. The machine alone costs over $3,500, and then you have monthly subscription fees of $49 for class access and the full experience.

The Tonal is a unique functional trainer that offers a unique, challenging, and “smart” experience. I don’t recommend it to everyone, but if you have the money and like the benefits, it’s one of the best home gym cable machines.

Pros

  • Interactive interface with large workout database
  • AI technology and dynamic weight modes
  • 200 lbs of digital weight
  • Ultra-compact design
  • Versatile articulating arms
  • Tonal handles delivery and installation

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Requires monthly subscription
  • Accessories cost extra
  • Not ideal for heavy lifters

Most Versatile Functional Trainer: Force USA G20

Most Versatile
Force USA G20 All-In-One Trainer

The Force USA G20 is a top-end all-in-one-trainer with excellent versatility, big weight stacks, and dozens of attachments.

Key Specs

  • Weight Capacity: Dual 289 lb stacks
  • Size: 91″ H x 79″ W x 67″ D
  • Weight Ratio: 2:1
  • Total Weight: 992 lbs
  • Height Options: 65
  • Included Accessories: 30 attachments, including various bars, straps, and more
  • Warranty: Lifetime on frame / 10 years on moving parts


Use Code 'Lab5' to save 5% on all Force USA orders over $1,200

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Summary

The Force USA G20 takes the cake for being the most versatile functional trainer on the market. This machine truly does it all – squat rack, smith machine, functional trainer, leg press, lat pulldown, low row, and more. However, it comes with a steep price tag.

It’s actually crazy how much this machine can do. It offers 14 strength systems in 1, includes 30 different attachments, and has 65 height adjustments for the functional trainer. Built with 11-gauge steel and weighing nearly 1,000 lbs, it’s also one of the beefiest.

Force USA G20 Pro All-In-One Trainer

The functional trainer component of this machine uses dual 289 lb weight stacks with a 2:1 ratio. The 10 lb plate jumps aren’t ideal, and the metal shrouds covering the plates prevent you from easily adding smaller plates. However, the total weight capacity is near the top.

Like the REP Ares, the G20 has 180-degree swivel trolleys on the front uprights. But with more holes, there are nearly twice as many hole options, making it even more versatile.

Force USA G20 Trainer

Assembling the G20 is a monumental task. If you’re not the handy type, I recommend hiring it out. Otherwise, prepare yourself for hours of installation.

At ~$6,000, the G20 is a big investment. It’s the most expensive functional trainer on our list, but it’s also the most versatile. If you’re looking for an all-in-one machine for your home gym and have a bigger budget, this is a strong contender.

Pros

  • Unmatched versatility – 14 machines in 1
  • Big 289 lb weight stacks with a 2:1 ratio
  • Option to add a dedicated lat pulldown/low row with a 1:1 ratio
  • Includes 30 attachments
  • Two pull-up stations

Cons

  • Larger footprint than standalone functional trainers
  • Attachment quality could be better
  • Long assembly processExpensive

Best Compact Functional Trainer: Torque Fitness F-9 Functional Trainer

Best Compact
Torque Fitness F-9 Functional Trainer

The Torque Fitness F-9 Functional Trainer is a unique space-saving folding machine with 3 weight stack options and good overall versatility.

Key Specs

  • Weight Capacity: Dual 150, 200, or 225 lb stacks
  • Size: 83.8″ H x 44.6″ W x 34.9″ D (CLOSED) / 83.8″ H x 69.7″ W x 61.2″ D (OPEN)
  • Weight Ratio: 2:1
  • Total Weight: 610 lbs
  • Height Options: 17
  • Included Accessories: Multi-grip pull-up bar, bench bar, snap hooks, leg boot, chin-up strap, squat strap, and strap handles.
  • Warranty: Lifetime on frame / 1 year on moving parts


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Summary

The Torque Fitness F-9 Functional Trainer is a space-friendly fold-away option with good specs, several stack options, and a great standard accessory pack.

The most compelling thing about this functional trainer is its footprint – it’s like having a cable crossover machine inside a wardrobe. The double folding doors have wheels underneath to easily open and close the machine, and it fits perfectly in a corner.

Torque F9 Fold-Away Functional Trainer

When closed, the Torque F-9 is only 35″ deep and 45” wide and has a stylish aesthetic. You can open the machine with two widths: The narrow option is 52″ wide, and the wide option is 69″ wide.

Each upright has 17 vertical adjustments, making it a versatile choice for high and low pulley movements. I also like that Torque offers three weight stack options: 150 lbs, 200 lbs, and 225 lbs. I recommend at least the 200 lb option for most people – each choice has a 2:1 ratio.

Torque F9 Functional Trainer

Another benefit of this system is that it comes with a solid accessory package, including straps, harnesses, handles, and bars. You can also add a flip-down bench, which is a unique accessory for performing lying cable flies and more.

Although it’s more expensive than some options, it’s a relatively affordable choice for most home gym owners looking for a quality functional trainer. The space-saving, stowaway design is great for small gyms or bedrooms.

Pros

  • Folding design for maximum space savings
  • 150, 200, and 225 weight stack options
  • 17 vertical adjustment positions
  • Includes a multi-grip pull-up bar
  • Excellent accessory package

Cons

  • Upright width is slightly narrow for cross-body movements.
  • Fold-down bench costs extra

Best Premium Functional Trainer: Prime Fitness Functional Trainer

Best Premium
Prime Fitness Functional Trainer

The Prime Fitness Functional Trainer is a premium option with dual 265 lb stacks and articulating arms for height and width control.

Key Specs

  • Weight Capacity: Dual 265 lb stacks
  • Size: 94″ H x 66″ W x 47″ D
  • Weight Ratio: 2:1
  • Total Weight: 994 lbs
  • Height Options: 15 (+9 width options)
  • Included Accessories: 5 lb micro-weights x4, accessory storage
  • Warranty: Lifetime on frame / 1 year on moving parts


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Summary

The Prime Fitness Functional Trainer is arguably the nicest piece of equipment in my gym. I’ve owned this machine since 2022 and use it nearly every time I work out. It has outstanding versatility, big weight stacks, and a beautiful aesthetic.

The best thing about this functional trainer is its versatile design. Unlike most machines with fixed-width uprights, the Prime trainer has articulating arms that adjust vertically and horizontally. There are 15 vertical and 9 horizontal options, offering a total of 135 different adjustment positions. This is easily my favorite functional trainer for cable crossover movements since you can adjust angles and width.

Prime Fitness Functional Trainer

While some options technically have more height choices, this machine is 94″ tall. The tallest position provides ample range of motion for virtually every height. And the lowest setting is lower than most, providing a better range of motion on low-pulley movements like curls, rows, etc.

The 265 lb weight stacks are some of the biggest you’ll find. The plate jumps are large at 20 lbs, but Prime has three 5 lb slider weights to achieve 5 lb increments throughout. It offers a 2:1 ratio and ultra-smooth pulleys.

Cable Crossover Functional Trainer

The biggest downsides of the Prime Functional Trainer are size, cost, and lead time. This is one of the biggest functional trainers on the market. I love the angled design and find it’s a great corner option, but it still takes up more room than most. It’s also expensive at over $5,500 and can take weeks to deliver since it’s made-to-order.

However, with the premium price comes premium performance and looks. You can customize this machine with various colors to perfectly match your gym’s look. It’s truly a commercial-grade functional trainer.

Pros

  • 15 vertical and 9 horizontal arm positions
  • Big 265 lb weight stacks with 2:1 ratio
  • 5 lb add-on weights for micro increments
  • Excellent range of motion
  • Customizable color

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Longer lead times
  • Larger footprint than most

Best Portable Functional Trainer: ANCORE Cable System

Best Portable
ANCORE Cable System

The ANCORE cable system is a compact, portable functional trainer alternative. Its resistance profile and 1:1 ratio create a unique training stimulus, and it can attach to many objects.

Key Specs

  • Weight Capacity: Up to 60 lbs
  • Size: 4.75″ H x 12″ W x 3″ D
  • Weight Ratio: 1:1
  • Total Weight: 9 lbs
  • Height Options: infinite
  • Included Accessories: Strap mount x2 and handle attachment x2
  • Warranty: 1 year


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Summary

ANCORE is a highly portable functional trainer option that can attach to a squat rack, fence, tree, or dozens of other things. It provides a unique training stimulus that feels different than conventional weight-based trainers.

The biggest benefit of this cable system is it’s portable and compact. Weighing 9 lbs, it’s ultra-lightweight and takes up practically no space in your gym. ANCORE comes with a basic strap mount that you can affix to any cylindrical fixture with a circumference between 10-14 inches. Additionally, you can purchase a squat rack mount, sliding track mount, or fixed wall mount.

ANCORE Cable System

ANCORE comes in standard or pro versions. The main difference is that the pro is made with better materials and doesn’t require flipping the orientation when performing upward movements. However, it comes at a steeper price.

Both versions have a standard resistance of 55 lbs but can extend to 65. The resistance is created with unique twist plates on both ends of the ANCORE base. The base unit has 5 lbs of resistance, with additional 5 and 10 lb plates for solid progressive overload.

Dual ANCORE Functional Trainer

The biggest difference between this system and traditional weights is that the ANCORE is tension-based, which provides constant resistance across the entire movement. This system is much better for performing explosive rotational movements than conventional cable machines, making it great for sport-specific training like baseball, MMA, etc.

To turn the ANCORE into a functional trainer, you’ll have to purchase the Dual option. While it’s still expensive, it’s much much more affordable than full-scale options.

I recommend the ANCORE for home gym owners who require the most compact option and don’t need to use heavy heights. I also recommend it for coaches and trainers who travel to clients/gyms and need a unique solution for specific training goals. Otherwise, I think traditional functional trainers are a better option for most.

Pros

  • Lightweight and portable
  • Multiple mounting options
  • Excellent for rehab and rehab
  • You can add weight over time
  • Smooth, constant tension
  • Less expensive than traditional machines

Cons

  • Not ideal for heavy strength training
  • Longer setup time

Compare our Top Picks

Compare our selection of the best functional trainers below based on key specs. Scroll right to see more.

REP FT-5000
REP FT-5000 Table Image
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Titan Fitness FT
Titan Functional Trainer Table Image
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Bells of Steel FT
Bells of Steel Functional Trainer Table Image
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REP Ares
REP Ares Table Image
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Force USA G20
Force USA G20 Table Image
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Torque Fitness F-9
Torque F-9 Table Image
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Prime Fitness FT
Prime Fitness Functional Trainer Table Image
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Tonal
Tonal Table Image
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ANCORE Dual
ANCORE Table Image
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AwardBest OverallBest ValueBest BudgetBest Rack-MountedBest VersatilityBest CompactBest PremiumBest InteractiveBest Portability
Weight875 lbs672 lbs560 lbs965 lbs+992 lbs610 lbs994 lbs150 lbs9 lbs
Height85.5″82″81″94.2″ or 81.2″91″83.8″94″51″4.75″
Max Width58″64″53″49″79″44.6″66″21.5″12″
Depth36″44″30″22″ OR 36″ OR 47″67″34.9″47″5.25″3″
Stack Weight224 lbs200 lbs160 lbs260 OR 310 lbs289 lbs150 OR 200 OR 225 lbs 265 lbs200 lbs65 lbs
Weight Ratio2:12:12:12:12:12:12:1N/A1:1

Benefits of Functional Trainers

Benefits of a Functional Trainer

They’re Versatile

Functional trainers open up dozens of exercises for upper and lower body workouts. Because you can adjust their height and sometimes width, you can train in ways that conventional weight training won’t allow. Similarly, cable movements provide a different stimulus that can round out your training, leading to better results.

Some popular exercises include triceps pushdowns, cable curls, face pulls, Pallof presses, lat pulldowns, low rows, goblet squats, pull-throughs, hamstring curls, and much more.

They’re Safe & Accessible for All Fitness Levels

Functional trainers are inherently safer than traditional free weights before they offer a controlled environment with consistent movement patterns. They also act as a spotter, making solo workouts safer and easier since you don’t have the risk of weight falling on you.

The pulley system further reduces joint impact and stress, making a functional trainer a useful tool for rehabbing injuries and reducing the risk of them altogether. And because you can easily adapt the resistance and range of motion, nearly every population can use one for their specific needs.

Lastly, with adjustable resistance ranging from a few pounds to hundreds of pounds, there’s ample opportunity for progressive overload from beginners to advanced athletes.

They’re Useful for All Training Styles

Any training style can benefit from a functional training, including bodybuilding, powerlifting, Olympic weightlifting, and more. The machine is ideal for accessory exercises to your main movements, allowing you to safely train muscular imbalances and build general strength.

With a functional trainer, you can train unilateral and bilateral isolation movements with easy drop sets, super sets, eccentric overload, and more.

Additionally, you can perform numerous exercises to strengthen and stabilize your core, reducing injury risks and leading to more effective workouts.


How to Pick a Functional Trainer

How to Pick the Best Functional Trainer

Here are a few of the most important factors to consider when buying a functional trainer:

Footprint

One of hard truths about owning a home gym is we don’t have the room to fit everything we want. And while functional trainers offer excellent versatility, they take up a fair amount of space.

The good news is there are still space-friendly options. Most functional trainers range between 12 and 22 square feet, although some may be smaller or larger.

Measure your space and check the specs – you want to make sure it not only fits but also allows for a full range of motion in the widest and highest setting.

Build Quality

Functional trainers are built with a mix of materials, but high-quality machines are mostly made of metal. 11-gauge steel is the strongest you’ll find on this machine, but 12 and 14-gauge options are also common. If you’re lifting a lot of weight or using the machine frequently, I recommend 11-gauge steel for better rigidity and durability.

Most functional trainers have some plastic elements, but lower-quality machines have a greater percentage of them, possibly resulting in durability issues later.

Adjustability

One of the biggest benefits of a functional trainer is it allows you to train at multiple heights and angles. However, some machines offer greater adjustability.

First, see how many adjustment holes are on the columns. One functional trainer may have fewer holes spaced further apart than another, limiting the number of adjustments.

Next, look at the height. Unless you’re in a very small space, I recommend at least 80″. Shorter functional trainers may limit range of motion in the higher settings, especially for taller lifters.

Lastly, look at width settings. Most functional trainers have a fixed width, but some have articulating arms, allowing you even greater versatility.

Loading Style

Most functional trainers have weight stacks to quickly and easily change the weight with a pin. These selectorized units are ultra-convenient and allow for super sets, drop sets, etc.

While not as common as other cable systems, some functional trainers are plate-loaded. These are much less expensive but not as versatile or easy to use.

Weight Capacity

Most functional trainers have dual weight stacks ranging from 150-300 lbs, although some may be higher or lower. If you’re primarily using the machine for strength, I recommend buying a unit with at least 200 lbs of resistance. You should also consider the ratio to find the true weight.

Weight Ratio

A functional trainer’s weight ratio determines the effective weight of the stack. This ratio is determined by the number of pulleys and how the cables are routed. Most functional trainers have a 2:1 ratio, meaning you’ll feel 50% of the weight. For example, a 200 lb weight stack with a 2:1 ratio will feel like 100 lbs.

Aside from 2:1, the most common ratio is 4:1, resulting in a 25% effective load. I recommend 2:1 for nearly everyone because it offers the best balance of function and weight.

Pulley & Cable Quality

Pulleys and cables are major factors in how “smooth” a functional trainer feels. Pulleys are commonly made of aluminum, plastic, or nylon. Aluminum pulleys are higher quality and more durable, but they can produce slightly more friction on the cable. I still recommend aluminum in most cases, especially when paired with consistent and well-coated cables.

Warranty

Most high-quality functional trainers offer a lifetime warranty on the structural frame and welds of the machine. However, warranties commonly vary for moving parts, including cable, pulleys, trolleys, etc. Be sure to check the manufacturer’s warranty before purchasing to understand what’s covered and for how long.

Price

Let’s face it, functional trainers are an investment. These machines cost thousands of dollars, with quality ones typically starting around $2,000. However, when you consider how much they can do, you may actually be able to replace other pieces of equipment, saving you money.


Honorable Mentions

  • Titan Fitness Plate-Loaded Functional Trainer – The Titan plate-loaded functional trainer is the only non-weight stack model I recommend. At less than $1,000, it’s a nice value choice, especially considering the high weight capacity. However, it’s larger than selectorized units to increase stability and isn’t as convenient.
  • Inspire FT1 Functional Trainer – The Inspire FT1 is a popular and well-reviewed functional trainer with dual 165 lb weight stacks. It has an option to upgrade to 215 lb. With a pull-up bar and a rotating storage rack, it’s a nice option, but it’s not great for taller people.
  • Body-Solid Powerline PFT100 – The Body-Solid Powerline PFT100 is similar to the Bells of Steel Functional Trainer that made our list. It has dual 160 lb weight stacks but with inferior pulleys and a less versatile pull-up option. Otherwise, it’s a good budget option.

FAQs About Functional Trainers

  • Should I Buy a Functional Trainer for My Home Gym?

    A functional trainer can elevate your training with full-body movement variety and is great for building muscle, rehabbing injuries, etc. However, they can be pricey and take up space. If you want to train with cables and you have the budget/space, nothing beats the versatility of a quality functional trainer.

  • Do Functional Trainers Come With Accessories and Attachments?

    Some functional trainers include basic attachments like a straight bar, d-handles, storage pegs, micro-weights, etc. However, they typically aren’t as high-quality as attachments you buy separately, and options may vary. I recommend assessing your needs and goals to determine if the included accessories are enough.

  • How Much Maintenance is Required With a Functional Trainer?

    Because functional trainers have more moving parts than some pieces of equipment, it’s a good idea to periodically check certain things. I recommend wiping down cables and pulleys to prevent dust and keeping the guide rods lubricated with a silicone-based spray. Doing these will ensure your machine operates smoothly and quietly.

Adam Hensley
Adam Hensley
Adam is the founder of Garage Gym Lab and has over two decades of fitness/training experience. He serves as the chief content creator and runs our YouTube channel and social media accounts. When he's not testing equipment or sharing his love for home gym life, you'll find him with his wife and two kids in sunny South Carolina.
Adam Hensley
Adam Hensley
Adam is the founder of Garage Gym Lab and has over two decades of fitness/training experience. He serves as the chief content creator and runs our YouTube channel and social media accounts. When he's not testing equipment or sharing his love for home gym life, you'll find him with his wife and two kids in sunny South Carolina.

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