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Cable machines aren’t most people’s first choice when it comes to picking out equipment for their home gyms, but they are certainly a worthwhile investment for those who have the space and money for them. They’re a versatile piece of equipment, offer great strength training benefits, help you build muscle, and generally last a long time (assuming you take care of your machine).   

The best cable machine for home gym use is the one that fits your training needs, space, and budget. In this roundup, we’ll give you options from our favorite cable machine to one that can be taken on the road for a workout at anytime, anywhere. Cables may not be as effective or convenient as free weights, but that doesn’t mean you should discount them. 

Why You Should Trust Us

We put quite a bit of time and effort into our “best of” lists, from actually using the equipment to going back-and-forth with our team members on why we like one entry over the other. Sometimes that results in passionate debate, which in our eyes is actually a great thing.  

We know that our audience has different training preferences, space constraints, and budgets, and our team reflects that. We have people with large, small, and even mobile home gyms and we use that experience to give you options for everything from the best dumbbells to the cable machines you see here.   

6 Best Cable Machines for Home Gyms 

Best Cable Machine for Home Gym: Tonal 

Good for: People who need an all-in-one home gym that can deliver a full-body workout 

Best Cable Machine
Tonal Smart Home Gym
Tonal Smart Home Gym

Looking for a complete home gym that fits in a compact space? The Tonal smart home gym offers 200 pounds of resistance, more than 170 moves, and a range of full-body exercises. Plus, the AI gets to know you as a lifter the more you use it, so the workouts will be customized to your needs.Tonal may be effective, but it's not budget-friendly. The machine sells for close to $3,000 (which does include professional installation), but you still have to pay a $50 monthly subscription fee on top of that.

My Favorite Things:

  • Resistance up to 200 lbs/side
  • Most complete smart home gym currently on the market  
  • AI-powered resistance is incredibly innovative
  • Removes the guesswork from strength training

My Callouts:

  • $49 monthly ongoing class membership fee 
  • Needs 7 feet of space around you to effectively use the machine
  • Included bench is low quality

Tonal isn’t what most people think of when they hear “cable machine,” but if you’re looking for a piece of equipment that can do it all you can’t do much better than this. The cable arms, attached to a wall-mounted touchscreen, can be adjusted to workout any muscle group and the digital resistance offers a unique stimulus that causes some lifelong trainees to quiver halfway through their set. 

Don’t stress too much about the weight, though. One of Tonal’s best features is the auto-powered weight suggestions, which are done through a full-body assessment you take when setting up your machine. This is great because it takes a lot of the guesswork out of resistance training, and customizes the experience to each user, though this feature can be disabled if you want to enter your own data. 

The customization doesn’t end there, as you can choose from different workout styles from strength training to kickboxing, and even yoga and meditation classes. A personal trainer will guide you through each workout and show you how moves are supposed to be performed. 

At close to $3,000, on top of a $49 monthly class membership fee (your first year is free), Tonal isn’t a piece of budget-friendly home gym equipment. That said, the fact that it’s wall-mounted means you’ll save a lot of space compared to other cable machines that don’t have nearly as much versatility. Plus, the cost includes delivery and professional setup (this isn’t a machine you can install on your own). 

Pssst: We have the best Tonal coupon!

Keep in mind you need at least 7 feet of space around your machine, and the resistance only goes up to 200 pounds. That might sound light, but the digital resistance feels much heavier than your standard loaded barbell (trust us). Not only that, but due to it using digital resistance, it can increase the load at various parts of the movement which is simply impossible to do with free weights.

To learn more, read my Tonal Smart Home Gym review

Best Cable Crossover Machine: REP Fitness FT-5000 

Good for: Trainees who want a durable and stable cable crossover machine. 

Best Cable Crossover
REP FT-5000 Functional Trainer
REP FT-5000 Functional Trainer

The REP FT-5000 is just like the functional trainer at your local commercial gym, and comes with dual 220 pound that have a 2:1 ratio, a frame constructed with 11-gauge steel, and three pull-up grip options (neutral, supinated grip, and wide-grip). Weighing in at 1,000 pounds, this is a heavy-duty functional trainer that doesn’t need to be bolted into the ground for stability. The powder coating is also chip-resistant, so it will perform well and look good for many years. At its highest point, the handle is only 52 inches off the ground and several reviewers stated this made it difficult for taller people to take full advantage of the machine. The only other major complaint was that the lowest weight, 13 pounds, was a bit too heavy for some isolation exercises.

My Favorite Things:

  • Dual 220 lb. weight stacks
  • Multi-grip pull-up/chin-up grip options
  • Ships partially assembled
  • Lifetime frame warranty 

My Callouts:

  • There have been some complaints of less than stellar craftsmanship  
  • Handle only goes up to 52 inches at highest point 
  • Starting weight may be too heavy for some isolation exercises

The REP Fitness FT-5000 is just like the functional trainer at your local commercial gym, just without the line of people hogging it while staring at their smartphone. It has dual 220-pound weight stacks with a 2:1 ratio, which should still be enough to give experienced lifters a challenge, and three pull-up grip options (neutral, supinated grip, and wide-grip). 

Weighing in at 1,000 pounds, and a frame constructed with 11-gauge steel, this is a heavy-duty functional trainer that doesn’t need to be bolted into the ground for stability. The powder coating is also chip-resistant, so it will perform well and look good for many years. 

Functional trainers aren’t necessarily the easiest things to assemble, but luckily this piece comes partially put together and should take two people only about two hours to finish. That’s always a win in our book. 

At its highest point, the handle is only 52 inches off the ground, and several reviewers stated this made it difficult for taller people to take full advantage of the machine. The only other major complaint was that the lowest weight, 13 pounds, was a bit too heavy for some isolation exercises.

The trainer comes with two d-handle attachments, which is a great start, but you can always buy different cable attachments from REP’s website to get even more out of your machine. 

Best Portable Cable Machine: MAXPRO SmartConnect Cable Machine 

Good for: People who need a cable machine that can be taken anywhere  

Best for Travel
MaxPRO SmartConnect Portable Cable Machine
MaxPRO SmartConnect Portable Cable Machine

The MAXPRO isn't some rubber band tied to a door. It is a serious compact cable machine that replaces numerous bulky cable machines found in your typical gym. MAXPRO brings you the latest revolutionary fitness technology with adjustable resistance from 5 to 300 pounds with a simple turn of the dial.Take your workout to the max with MAXPRO Fitness!

My Favorite Things:

  • Resistance up to 300 pounds
  • Lightweight and small footprint makes it extremely portable   
  • Can get a total-body workout with just one machine 
  • Various resistance settings
  • Free workout library

My Callouts:

  • Pricey for a small piece of equipment  
  • Clunky app  
  • Accessories and wall mounting system sold separately

The MAXPRO Smart Connect Cable Machine is great for people on the go, or even those in apartments who want the benefits of a cable machine. At 10 inches long, 16 inches in height, 4 inches in width, and weighing only 9 pounds it’s easy to bring it with you wherever you want to workout. 

Although small, this machine is capable of going up to 300 pounds in resistance with just a turn of a dial. Trust us, you’ll be feeling the burn on this one. 

While there’s quite a bit you can do with just the MAXPRO Smart Connect, you’ll need a wall mount or certain accessories that aren’t included in the purchase price but are necessary for lower body and some upper body movements. 

I’m a fan of smart home gym equipment, and though it’s great you can sync the MAXPRO via Bluetooth to an app that tracks your workouts, I found myself not using it too much. The app was too clunky during use, and sometimes it didn’t connect to my machine. Hopefully MAXPRO fixes this issue in the future. I do appreciate that the app comes with a free workout library, but again some of the moves are dependent on purchasing accessories not included with the machine. 

The cables do have a break-in period, but once you’ve used the machine for a while, you’ll see that they’re buttery smooth. 

Read our full MaxPro Smart Connect Cable Machine review to learn more. 

Best Compact Cable Machine: TUT Trainer Tower 

Good for: People who need a cable machine that can be taken anywhere  

Compact
TUT Trainer Tower
TUT Trainer Tower

The TUT Trainer Tower is a unique functional trainer that you can mount to studs in your wall or to a door frame (or to an outdoor patio post like our product tester did). This tall, slim piece of equipment is like a minimal all-in-one home gym. It’s similar to a cable machine, but much smaller and more portable, especially if you don’t use the wall-mount option. With the TUT Trainer Tower, you can do just about any exercises you might do with a cable machine, including triceps push-downs, lat pull-downs, low rows, hip abduction and adduction, chest press, biceps curls, and more. For certain exercises, such as the low row, you’ll need additional equipment, like a stability ball or bench. The TUT Trainer Tower package comes with the tower itself, a stud mounting package, 150 pounds of TUT Plates (custom resistance bands that work with the Tower), ankle straps, an aluminum straight bar, two single handles, a carabiner, and a rope clip/cable lock. The Garage Gym Reviews team loves that the TUT Trainer Tower is so functional yet comes in such a small package: It only extends 6 inches from your wall or door frame and it weighs less than 12 pounds.

My Favorite Things:

  • Virtually unlimited resistance (just clip on more TUT plates)   
  • Easy to disassemble and reassemble in different locations 
  • Only extends 6 in from mounting spot  
  • Under $1,000

My Callouts:

  • Not intended for outdoor use 
  • TUT Training app costs extra 
  • Stronger lifters my have to buy more TUT plates

The TUT Trainer Tower only extends 6 inches from its mounting spot, weighs less than 12 pounds, and can be attached to most door frames. There’s also a wall stud option, but that requires drilling each time you want to take the machine down and set it back up again. 

Yup, you read that right. You can actually take this machine off its mounting spot and relocate it to a different area, whether that just be a different spot in the house or maybe a new apartment you’re moving to. 

One way TUT–which stands for “time under tension,” or the amount of time your muscles undergo strain during a certain move–is able to make the machine so compact is their use of TUT plates. These aren’t actually weight plates as you know them, but bands that provide resistance for the machine. These bands are much smaller than bulky weight stacks you see on most functional trainers. 

Garage Gym Reviews staff writer Amanda Capritto tried out this machine, and she said while most home gym owners could benefit from it, she sees it more as a beginner’s functional trainer. Intermediate and advanced lifters can certainly get some use out of it, but they may have to buy additional TUT plates to increase the difficulty. 

In terms of attachments, you get an aluminum curl bar, ankle straps, and two single handles along with the machine and the weights. That’s a decent amount for the price, and there are separate accessories like the rower or power bar kit (used for deadlift, bench presses, and squats) that can increase the machine’s versatility. 

You’re still able to do moves like lat pulldowns, preacher curls, face pulls, and more with just the machine itself. 

Want to learn more? Check out our full TUT Trainer Tower review

Best Cable Machine for Home Gym on Amazon: XMark Functional Trainer Cable Machine

Good for: Anyone who wants to buy a cable machine on Amazon  

Available on Amazon
XMark Functional Trainer Cable Machine
XMark Functional Trainer Cable Machine

The XMark Functional Trainer Cable machine features a dual 200-pound weight stack, 19 adjustment positions, and numerous cable machine attachments that allow users of all heights and fitness levels to get a full-body workout with just one piece of equipment.XMark may not be a household name in the fitness industry, but if you're a fan of Titan Fitness then you'll like this machine–after all, Titan's functional trainer and this one are made by the same manufacturer.The XMark Functional Trainer has a 2:1 pulley ratio, split-grip pull-up bar, and is constructed with 11-gauge steel.

My Favorite Things:

  • Dual pulley system weighing 220 lbs each   
  • Included pull-up/chin-up bar 
  • Height adjustments accommodate most users  
  • Made with commercial-grade materials

My Callouts:

  • Complicated assembly process 
  • Not budget-friendly

To be honest, we haven’t actually used the XMark Functional Trainer…well, actually that’s only half true. The same manufacturer who produces this machine also makes others on the market that we have used and recommend (this is a common practice in the industry.)

The frame is made with 11-gauge, 2-inch-by-3-inch steel, making it a durable and stable piece of equipment. You get a 2:1 pulley ratio, a maximum handle height of 78 inches, 19 adjustment settings, and a split grip pull-up bar. 

On top of that, you get an attachment package not seen with many functional trainers including a triceps rope, triceps pressdown bar, a multi-grip revolving curl bar, and single-grip handles. This allows you to use the machine as an all-in-one gym for total-body exercises.  

Many of the reviews for the XMark Functional Trainer are positive, and the few negative comments stem from the complicated assembly process. This is one where you’ll want to give yourself some time, and definitely want to have a friend over to help you with. 

We also love that the adjustable pulley system can be set anywhere from 12 inches high to 78, making it perfect for people of most height levels. 

Best Cable Machine Attachments

Some cable machines may only come with a standard handle, while others may come with every attachment you can think of. 

Here are some cable attachment packages we recommend:. 

REP Fitness Pro Series Cable Attachments: We love this series because it comes with five high-quality attachments capable of targeting most of your muscle groups, and it’s a great value for the price of about $250. 

BalanceFrom Cable Attachments: You can’t do much better, in terms of value, than this set of five cable attachments for about $130 (excluding shipping). These pieces, though, aren’t the most durable but they’ll serve most home gym owners well. 

Spud Inc. Pulley System: The Spud Inc pulley system has a weight capacity of 550 pounds, and is also lightweight and compatible with most cable machines. 

Looking to buy a la carte? These are some attachments we heavily recommend you purchase along with, or shortly after your cable machine. 

  • Triceps Rope: Despite its name, a triceps rope can be used for more than just your triceps. It’s also capable of performing biceps, shoulder, back, and abs exercises. 
  • Lat Pulldown Bar: Not all cable machines can be used to do lat pulldowns but for those that can, a lat pulldown is a necessary investment.  
  • Ankle Strap: This is simply a strap you attach to your ankle so you can perform moves like leg extensions with your cable machine.   
  • Double D-row Handle: Great for seated rows, and can also be used with barbells and dumbbells to target different areas of the biceps and back. 

Multi-grip Curl Bar: A multi-grip curl bar allows you to target different areas of your chest, triceps, and biceps all with one handle. 

Other Cable Machines We Researched

We’ve only been able to try out some of these home gym cable machines, but they just didn’t beat out our top picks. 

Bodysolid Powerline Cable Crossover Machine PCCO90X: This cable crossover station is highly recommended by many, but nobody on our team has been able to try it out yet. 

Valor Fitness BD-62: Similarly, this isn’t a machine we have any familiarity with. 

Titan Plate Loaded Lat Pulldown: This is a great machine that uses standard Olympic plates to provide the resistance, and it comes with a low row handle and lat pulldown bar. But other than that, you can’t do much with this machine, though it is great for heavy lifters looking for a challenge. 

NordicTrack Fusion CST: We love the iFIT programming available with this machine and have used it on other products, but we haven’t used this specific one before. 

Fray Fitness Functional Trainer: I used to be a fan of this functional trainer, but feel as though its performance has declined in recent months. 

OYO NOVA Gym: This is a tiny functional trainer that can provide up to 40 pounds of resistance, and perform 200 exercises. The technology behind it is inspired by the way NASA astronauts train in space, but our reviewer Amanda Capritto says it lacks durability and is more geared toward beginners due to its low level of resistance. 

How We Picked and Tested the Best Cable Machines for Home Gyms

Besides workout experience and price, we looked at a variety of factors when constructing our best cable machine list. 

Weight Stacks 

We wanted to make sure the cable machines we recommended were light enough for isolation exercises, but challenging enough for any compound movements you wish to do with them. Similarly, we looked at whether the weight capacity could work for people of all fitness levels.  

Versatility  

A cable machine should perform a variety of exercises, allowing you to target upper body and lower body muscles. There are some, though, that only target one specific muscle group until you buy additional equipment, like a low pulley for lower body movements. 

Adjustments

Adjustment here not only refers to changing the weight between moves, but how many height positions the machine has and if it can work for multiple users. 

Benefits of Cable Machines

Because cable machines come in all shapes and sizes, we’re instead going to concentrate on the benefits of using cables. And unlike your television habits, there’s a lot of reasons why you should never cut the cord. 

Faster Muscle Fatigue 

Unlike free weights or even resistance bands, cables work your muscles at all times during the lift. This means your muscles will get fatigued quicker, which results in muscle growth. 

Safer

Dexter Jackson, one of the greatest bodybuilders of all time, has credited cable machines as part of the reason why he was able to compete past 50. Cables don’t put as much stress on your joints and stabilizer muscles, and while nothing in life is risk-free it’s much harder to hurt yourself with them than a barbell or dumbbell. 

Versatile 

We’ve talked about the fact that cable machines can hit all muscle groups, but you can also hit those areas from angles that are more difficult to reach using free weights. “Free weight resistance provides a force vector straight down towards the ground,” personal trainer and strength and sports doctor Mike Masi says. “If you want a different angle to hit a different body part, you’ll have to manipulate your body around that force vector. But with a cable machine you can just slide the handle higher or lower to get the desired effect.”

He adds, “All in all, cable machines are not necessary but provide more flexibility and variety that can keep your gym routine from getting stale.”

All in all, cable machines are not necessary but provide more flexibility and variety that can keep your gym routine from getting stale.

Mike Masi, strength and sports doctor

What to Look for in a Cable Machine 

Ready to find the best cable machine for your home gym? Here are a few things to keep in mind. 

Space 

A cable machine is probably going to be one of the largest purchases you make for your home gym in terms of space, next to a power rack. You can certainly get a good cable machine that won’t take up much space, but if you’re looking for the best of the best you’ll want to make sure you have a good amount of space to dedicate to it. 

A good guide would be to have at least 7 feet of vertical space, and 6 feet of horizontal space dedicated to your cable machine. This will ensure you can get enough range of motion during each exercise. There are some space-saving ones that are mountable, or come with just one weight stack. 

Adjustments 

One of the benefits of cable machines is the multiple pulley positions that allow you to get a full-body workout with just one piece of equipment. But some machines have more adjustment positions than others, either due to their size or construction. 

Although not technically an adjustment, you’ll want to try to get a pulley machine that can swivel so you can engage more muscle groups in different lifts. 

Cable Handle Attachments 

Most cable machines will come with single handles, which you can do flys and other moves with but if you’re looking to increase the versatility you might want to invest in a curl bar or triceps rope at the very least. 

You’ll also want to check to see if your cable machine comes with pegs for you to hang your attachments on, or figure out another way to keep them secure when they’re not in use. 

Price Point 

This one’s pretty self explanatory, but we’ll also add that it might be worth spending a little more for a high quality machine rather than saving by buying a cheap (I mean that in terms of price and craftsmanship) one. 

FAQs About Best Cable Machines for Home Gyms

Can you build muscle with cable machines? 

Due to the fact that cable machines put constant tension on the muscle tissue, they’re a great way to build muscle mass. 

Are cable machines as good as free weights?  

It depends on what you’re training for. Free weights are the better choice for those looking to focus on strength training, but cable machines are just as good for those looking to focus on hypertrophy (building muscle) or conditioning. 

Are cable machine weights accurate? 

Yes, and no. Cable machine weights are accurate but you’re not always pulling 20 pounds due to something called the pulley ratio, which is how much force it takes to lift a certain amount of weight. So a cable machine with a 2:1 ratio only takes 10 pounds of force to move 20, and only 5 pounds of force to move the same weight on a machine with a 4:1 pulley ratio. 

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