Building your own home gym: Home gym or functional trainer

This is the fifth in a seven-part series on building your own home gym. Today, we take a look at which aerobic machine is better for you: Home Gym or Functional Trainer

Many people prefer to use a “machine” over traditional free weights in their home workout room. But did you know there are two different types of those machines available?
The more traditional Home Gym is what most people are familiar with, dating back to the days of the Nautilus machine. The Home Gym includes one or two weight stacks, with fixed arms and hand grips. It can be bulkier and more expensive than Functional Trainers. Most movements on a Home Gym follow a set plane, such as military press for shoulders, bench press for chest or leg extensions.
Home Gyms are great for beginners as they are generally regarded to be easier to use, but they can also benefit experienced lifters. They can be a good complement to lifting with free weights because Home Gyms will keep you on a controlled lift and do a good job of isolating specific body parts.

Functional Trainers have increasingly gained popularity as they are often less expensive than Home Gyms and take up less space. Functional Trainers have weight stacks on their
base, too, but the main difference is in the cable systems that come with different shaped handles. They provide more options for working out and because the cable does not have to follow a fixed plane more sports specific routines can be implemented.
For instance, a golfer can hold the cable handle and simulate his or her swing. A baseball or softball player can grip the cable handle and mimic a throwing motion. There are hundreds of different movement possibilities for a Functional Trainer.
You can even incorporate an exercise ball into your workout, sitting on it and pulling the cable handle toward you at a variety of angles.
However, these machines can also be harder to use and some people aren’t sure if they’re following the right motions. It’s important that they ask questions when contemplating buying a Functional Trainer and have correct information on how to use them.
Final analysis
Whatever direction you decide to go, the Home Gym or Functional Trainer will provide health enthusiasts a means to get a total-body workout. You should also consider how these two choices would complement the other fitness equipment you already have, such as free weights.

At Home Fitness consultant Aaron Dorksen’s blog deals with a variety of fitness topics, ranging from workout tips, motivational ideas and feature stories on how exercise impacts people’s lives. E-mail him with comments, questions or ideas for future blogs at