Remember, when you're picking a machine, you will get more results on "any" machine you actually use, than by not using "the best" machine.
Things to consider when selecting strength equipment:
It's a trade-off: the more natural the movement, the greater the need for proper form (and thus instruction) to prevent injury. As such, while free weights mimic and support normal life activities by working the main and stabilising muscles, they also pose greater risk of injury than do machines. This natural "real life" movement is called "functional" while the "used-only-in-a gym" movement is called "conventional." "Functional" movements tend to use 3 to 5 muscles, while "conventional" movement may use only 1 to 3.
Most to least natural type of movement:
- Power Rods
- Lever machines
- Weight stacks
Selecting a Home Gym
If you're looking at cutting down or toning down, you should consider a Bowflex home gym, which uses power rods. When you're exercising with this weight system, you don't get the full impact of the weight right off the start. You get to ease into the exercise and then get the full weight at the full extension. This makes it easier on your joints. This type of gym is great for someone who's a little older or someone with physical limitations.
With a Bowflex, you can do various exercises and in multiple positions. The gyms have great adjustability to move from one exercise to the next. The Xtreme SE is only set up for one exercise at a time, meaning you have to do a cable change between each exercise. With the Xtreme 2 SE you don't need to change cables between exercises as often, usually just minor adjustments.
If you're looking to gain size, consider a traditional weight stack system. This type of gym is better for bulking up - you're able to do heavier weight and lower reps.
Once you know if you want a Bowflex gym or weight stack, for either type of gym you'll want to look at:
- The feel and capabilities of each machine
- The type of exercises you can do
- What you want to do with the gym
- Space restrictions and size of the machine
How much space do you have for equipment? Consider that when selecting a multi-purpose vs. a single purpose machine.
How much time do you have to devote to working out?
- Do you want movements that hit arms and legs at the same time?
- Consider circuit training - weights in repetition providing strength training and some cardio
- Are you doing just cardio or just weights?