Working out at home on a multi-gym can be the perfect solution to many peoples fitness goals. This article will cover who a home multi-gym is suitable for, different training methods for different goals, popular exercises and some common mistakes to avoid. The aim is to help you decide if this piece of exercise equipment is right for you…
Why use a home multi-gym?
If you want to get the benefits of a gym work out but do not have the time, or there are no gyms close by, then a home multi-gym can be a great solution. Whereas going to the gym regularly will take up a significant portion of your day, you can spend 20 minutes a day at home to get seriously strong and fit.
Some people are private by nature and prefer to work out on their own. A home multi gym is a great solution for them as well. All the benefits of weight lifting at the gym, but in a private environment. No queue for a machine or unsocial gym members dropping weights and making a noise.
Home multi gyms are equally suitable for men and women, for novices and experienced weight trainers. Top end machines will allow you to carry out any of the exercises that the equipment at the gym caters for. Lower specification models still provide a fair range of exercises. Changing the size/shape of handles or grips provides a greater potential number of exercises.
Do consider the amount of space you have available as home multi gyms, even the smaller ones, take up a significant amount of space. But if you have space available, one of these machines, will allow you to carry out a wide range of weight training exercises, covering all major muscle groups. If you are considering buying a multi-gym for use use at home, we have composed a guide reviewing multi-gyms available for purchase online.
Ways to work out on a home multi-gym
Although at first glance all weight training routines may look the same, there are a number of different styles of weight training. Each having their own individual benefits and objectives, and all of them ideal to be carried out on a home multi-gym. We will cover them in a little more detail throughout the next section:
Cardio with interval training circuits
Circuit training involves carrying out a number of exercises in quick succession, lifting a light amount of weight for a high number of repetitions. For example, doing 30 seconds of bicep curls, 30 seconds of chest presses and 30 seconds of lat pull downs with little or no rest in between.
This type of exercise is great for improving your cardiovascular fitness. It raises your heart rate and breathing, making your heart and lungs adapt over time, Becoming more efficient. Regular circuit training will result in a drop in your resting heart rate and increase in lung capacity.
This type of exercise is also great for burning fat, increasing muscle endurance and some small gains in strength. Circuit training is popular with a wide range of athletes because of the numerous components of fitness that it develops. It works particular well for athletes that rely on short bursts of intensive activity, interspersed with rest periods. For instance combat sports, team sports like rugby, and racket sports such as squash.
Bodybuilders, people focusing on the specific goal of making their muscles bigger, train in a certain way. They lift in the 8 – 12 rep range, training just one muscle group per day, per week. This type of training makes muscles larger, but not as strong as some other forms of workout. It’s not that bodybuilders are not strong, but as their goal is aesthetics rather than athleticism, they are not as strong as other athletes like power lifters. The exercises tend to work muscles in isolation, so they do not gain strength though coordination of a chain of muscle movements, that functional training would develop.
Many people want to get strong, but want to do so without gaining a huge amount of muscle mass. This is particularly true for those in competitive sports, where you are classified by body weight. Or where mobility is as important as strength, and bulk will slow them down. Think boxers or gymnasts.
Muscle strength is not governed solely by size, you can gain strength by recruiting more muscle fibres in a particular muscle group and increasing the firing frequency of your motor neurons. The key principles for training for strength are using heavy weights, close to your 1 rep maximum (around 90%), and carrying out low repetitions. Best results come from focusing on multi-joint exercises such as squats, dead lifts, presses and pulls. Volume is not important as you are training so close to your 1 rep maximum. Allow 3 – 5 minutes between sets, this will allow you to lift heavy again, not being held back by fatigue. It’s important to get enough rest between training sessions, giving muscles time to repair and adapt.
Explosive strength training for power
Power is a combination of strength and speed, the ability to generate maximum force as quickly as possible. When training for power it is important that exercises are carried out in an explosive manor. The weights used need to be heavy, but you must be able to move them quickly, around 60% of your 1 rep maximum is suitable.
When you carry out a move, for instance a shoulder press, place emphasis on competing the first part of the move as quickly as possible. This trains the muscle fibres to contract quickly, and builds the ratio of fast twitch vs slow twitch muscle fibre. As you are carrying out these moves with reasonably heavy weight, you are training strength at the same time as speed.
Isometric weight training involves holding a weight in one position for and extended period of time without carrying out any range of motion. For instance, holding dumbbells straight out to your side for a period of 30 seconds. Training this way increases your muscle endurance and makes you stronger in the position you hold. It is perfect for athletes such as climbers or gymnasts, who rely on holding their body in one position for a long period of time.
High volume muscular endurance training
Just like in bodybuilding, high volume training only works your muscle groups once a week. A strong emphasis is placed on increasing muscular endurance, one exercise at a time. It not only makes muscles larger, but also makes them better able to keep up a level of resistance for a long time period.
High volume training involves performing one exercise at a time, lifting the same amount of weight for 10 reps, but for a high number of sets, typically 8 to 10. Each week the amount of weight is increased slightly. Resulting in small incremental gains in strength over time.
Most common exercises on a home multi-gym
The major muscles activated by the chest press are the pectorals (chest), triceps (arms) and deltoids (shoulders).
This exercise is very popular for those looking to build size and strength in their chest. By changing the angle of the press you can train upper, mid or lower areas of the chest.
The movement is a simple one, start with back straight against the back pad. Hold the handles in front of you at chest height, adjust the seat height if necessary. Push forwards until arms are fully extended, then slowly return to starting position. Keep the weight under control at all times, do not drop tension on the return movement.
The main muscles engaged when performing a shoulder press are the deltoids, which produce the majority of the force. The triceps and trapezius (upper back) act as stabilisers, keeping the arms upright and steadying the downward motion.
The exercise is popular with those looking to build size and strength in their shoulders, great for contact sports like rugby and martial arts.
The movement is a straight up and down over head motion. Start with hands under the handles around shoulder height. Push upwards until the arms are fully extended above the head, then allow hands to lower back down to the starting position. Do not drop the weight on the way down, keep it under control at all times.
The upright row is a compound exercise using multiple joint actions, therefore multiple muscle groups. the majority of force is created by the upper trapezious and the deltiods, with the biceps recruited to flex your elbows. The core muscles generate tension to support the spine as the weight is lifted and lowered.
Grip the bar with hands in an overhand position. Keep elbows above the hands and pull upwards until your hands are above your chest. Then slowly return to the starting position, being careful not to let the weight make a jolt.
The seated row is a great exercise as it engages so many muscles. The main muscles activated are in the back and include the mid and lower trapezius, the erector spinae, the romboids, and the latissimus dorsi. Shoulder muscles such as the deltiods are impacted, as are the lower pectoral chest muscles.
Sit on the machine bench with your knees slightly bent and feet against the footrest. Grasp the bar with a neutral grip, palms facing each other. Your back must be straight and your chest forward throughout the exercise. Exhale, pull your shoulders back, bend your elbows, bringing the bar close to your lower chest. Inhale and slowly allow your shoulders forward, flex your back and extend your arms until the bar is close to your feet.
Lat pull down
The reason this is called the lat pull down is that it works the lats, or to give them their full name, the latissimus dorsi muscles. The movement is also assisted by other back muscles, the rhomboids, the trapezius and the muscles of the rotator cuff.
The lats are important for pulling movements such as swimming, or everyday movements such as taking a heavy item off of a shelf. This is a great exercise for those wanting to get a classic athletic “V” shape.
Sit facing towards the weight machine and grip the bar with hands facing forwards, slightly farther apart than shoulder width. Lean back slightly, pulling the bar down until it reaches your upper chest. Then slowly return towards the starting position, still feeling a tension in the muscles, this works them on both the way up as well as down.
A bicep curl, as the name suggests, works your biceps muscles. But it also engages with a number of other muscles to support the motion. The deltoids and muscles of the forearm are also involved in performing a biceps curl.
Those wishing to build big, bold, biceps muscles, the classic strong man look, will find this exercise very beneficial. Developing a big pair of “guns”!
Stand facing the multi-gym, gripping the bar in an underhand position. Curl your arms upwards in a slow steady motion, bring them up to your upper chest. Then slowly lower back down the starting position. It may be tempting, but do not allow yourself to use a swinging action to bring the weight up. This decreases the muscle power required, relying on momentum created by the rest of the body.
Triceps push down
The triceps push down, clearly, works the triceps, the muscles at the back of the upper arms. There are three heads of the triceps, the long head, the lateral head and the medial head.
It is the triceps that control elbow extension, the straightening of the arm. They act as the opposing muscles to the biceps. Large triceps with defined heads give balance to the look of the arm against a big pair of biceps.
Stand facing the weight machine, gripping the bar with hands facing forward. Bring the bar to chest height, with arms held tight against your body. Push down slowly, bringing the bar in line with the upper thighs. Then return the bar slowly to the starting position at chest level.
The triceps extension isolates the triceps muscles at the back of the upper arm.
Face away from the weight machine, you can either sit or stand to complete this exercise. Grip the handles behind your head, keeping elbows close to the side of the head. Push the handles forward until the arms are fully extended in front of you. Then slowly return to the starting position at a slow, steady pace.
Leg extensions work the quadriceps muscles, the large muscles at the front of the thigh. Thee muscles are isolated when the exercise is performed in a seated position.
Doing this exercise regularly, working up to a significant weight, will give great size and definition to the front of the thighs.
Before starting the exercise make sure you are positioned correctly. The pivot point of the leg extension curl needs to line up with the pivot point of your knees. Hook the legs over the upper roller pads and your feet under the lower roller pads. Extend your legs forward, holding them for a moment in the fully extended position. Then lower them back to the starting place, making sure the action is smooth all the way through.
The leg curl moves in the opposite direction to the leg extension, working the hamstring muscles in the back of the leg.
The hamstrings are often an under-trained muscle, this is because having big strong hamstrings does not make your appearance more impressive, being hidden away behind your thighs. However strong hamstrings are very important for carrying out dynamic functional movements, and weaker hamstrings increases risk of injuries from other movements.
To carry out a leg curl, stand facing the machine with the upper pads just above your knees. Hook one foot under the front roller, with pressure on the lower calf area. You will want to lean forward to find part of the machine to rest on for balance. Curl your legs upwards. bringing the pad towards your bottom. Hold this position for a moment before lowering back to the starting position. As with all other exercises, make sure the movement is smooth and not sudden.
For even more exercises check out this helpful exercise chart from inspire fitness.
Common mistakes to avoid
It is very easy to let enthusiasm get the better of you, and to lift weights more regularly than needed. Rest and recuperation are vital to achieving any goal you have from weight training. Your muscles need time to recover after the strain of a workout, to repair and rebuild the muscles fibres that breakdown under stress.
If you are carrying out isolation exercises with heavy weights on just one muscle group, then allow them a week to recover before training them again. When you are training with lighter weights, and compound movements, it fine to train each muscle group twice per week. This doesn’t mean you can only weight train twice a week though. Break workouts down into selected muscles groups, e.g. chest and back, arms and shoulders, legs and core, train each group twice, but actually carry out 3, 4, or even 5 sessions per week.
Living a healthy lifestyle is just as important as exercise when it comes to getting fit and strong. That means cutting down on the late nights and unhealthy food. With out the right nutrients, muscles will not grow, and without the rest required for repair and recuperation you will be restricting your potential gains.
Eat a healthy and well balanced diet, your body needs a mix of all of the macro-nutrients, protein, carbohydrate and healthy fats.
Vitamins and minerals are also important. Protein has the biggest impact on muscle development. Make sure you eat protein with every meal, and aim to eat a gram of protein for every pound of your body weight per day.
Aim to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep a night as well. This will not only make you refreshed and give you energy to train, it will also allow time for the bodily repair work required after weight training.
You don’t have to be overly strict on this, the occasional late night or junk food meal will not you back. Life has to be enjoyed and it’s good for motivation to cut loose once in a while, but try and restrict it to once a week.
Water is important for keeping you cool through perspiration. Dehydration can cause you to overheat, which is bad for the heart and will cut your workout short.
Water also supports the chemical reactions in the muscles that produce energy. Lack of water risks cramping and fatigue setting in early.
Warm up / cool down
Exercising without warming up increases risk of injuries such as muscle pulls and strains. A warm up also lubricates your joints, so not warming up can also lead to joint issues and pain.
It’s also important to cool down after exercise. It is healthier to bring your heart rate down to normal gradually after exercise rather than suddenly. As muscles are warm after exercise it is the perfect time to stretch. Stretching speeds recovery and improves flexibility.
Wear lose comfortable clothes when you work out on a multi-gym. This helps stop you overheating and gives you full mobility to move properly.
Having a towel to hand can be helpful, especially if your workout is going to be an intense one. Keeping the sweat off your face, the machine, and out of your eyes makes you feel more comfortable.
Although training on a multi-gym is not particularly hard on your feet it is still a good idea to wear comfortable training shoes.
Home multi-gyms are designed with safety in mind, but you still need to be sensible and responsible when you train on one.
Do not lift more weight than you are comfortable with, especially as you are starting out. It will lead to risk of injury and stop you from working out regularly.
Use the machine per it’s guidelines, if you are not familiar with how to use it as it was designed, do some research or seek advice. Improvising new moves is not a good idea!
Keep your hands away from the weight stack and cable pulleys while the machine is moving. Plus make sure it is safely assembled before you start to use it.
Final thoughts on home multi-gym workouts
We’ve covered reasons for using a home multi-gym, some different training styles with their specific benefits, popular exercises and advised on some common mistakes to avoid. Hopefully that’s enough to convince you that in the right circumstances, and with the right objectives, a home multi-gym can be a great solution to meeting ones fitness goals.
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