Best Functional Trainer for 2020 – Review From A Fitness Trainer

By Walter Oconner | Best Fitness Gear


If you are looking to build a quality home gym, you should definitely consider functional trainers. Sure, other equipment such as dumbbells, barbells, bench, power rack come before, but functional trainer (also called as cable/pulley machine) is something that you will use every day since it offers a multitude of exercise options that you can do on it.

On these types of devices, you will be able to pull unique exercises that target specific muscles groups no other machine will allow you to work (think about rotational exercises).

What is a Functional Trainer?

A functional trainer is a machine that usually consists of two weight stacks, each with the same amount of weight, and adjustable, sliding pulleys that can be safely secured to different heights.

On the carabiniers you find on those pulleys you can connect many attachments. Different positions and various handles allow you to perform exercises for every single body part. Also, functional trainers will enable you to work only one, or two hands/legs at a time.

The “functional” part of the name describes what these machines are all about- they allow users to perform the exercises in a natural, unrestricted way, that is different for every user, considering the height, arm/leg length, etc.- the cable will always be in a perfect position.

Cables have additional benefits- they put your muscle under constant tension both in the eccentric and concentric part of the movement, which will result in some serious gains!

A functional trainer machine’s central part is dual weight stack, but depending on the model, you will find different add-ons. The most common extra is a pullup/chin-up bar, but there are some more advanced systems too.

Some functional trainers are basically full home gym systems- a smith machine, lat pull down and functional trainer, all in the same device.


How to Choose a Functional Trainer?

Like with any fitness equipment, you have to consider few things, before deciding to pick anything:

Budget- you can’t buy what you can’t afford, that is simple enough. But, that doesn't mean you should always opt for the cheapest option, nor for the most expensive one. The cheapest option is the best one, only if it is the only one you can afford.

But, be careful when buying the most expensive system- most of the time, you will need to get some add-ons- some new bars and handles, that will let you perform additional exercises. So don’t deplete the whole budget on the system itself, leave a little for potential upgrades.

 And remember, you are buying gym equipment to last, so pick quality. Furthermore, gym equipment has a high resell value, and you will get a big part of your investment back if you decide you no longer need the machine in the future.

Size- this goes both for the size of the machine, and the size of your room overall. Always leave extra room around your machine, especially up front, to give yourself enough space to perform the exercises correctly. Consider leaving some space above the device too- you don’t want to hit your head on the ceiling when doing pull-ups.

 If your exercise room is small, consider getting a home gym machine (functional trainer+Smith+lat pulldown…). The device will take up extra space than just a functional trainer, but it will be the only thing you need, except for some free weights.

Total weight- when choosing weight, consider your growth too. You want your functional trainer to provide enough resistance not only now, but also in the future. Think about your future gains when choosing the machine.

Attachments- yes, two weight stacks are the focal point of every functional trainer, but you can’t use the machine if you don’t have your attachments. Consider getting as many handles, bars, and cuffs as possible. Those will not only give you more exercise option but also more possibilities within the exercise- different grips target your muscle from different angles, allowing you a better workout with the same weight.

Our Picks: Best Functional Trainer for 2018

1. Body-Solid Functional Training Center

If your primary and only focus is getting a cable system, Body-Solid Functional Training Center is precisely that. This machine does not have a lot of extras. Instead, it is simply a top quality cable machine, that’s it. No Smith, no power racks, no nonsense. You do have a decent, two-grip pullup bar though. It is durable, made out of 11-gauge, 2’’ x 4’’ steel. Powder coat finish is also a nice touch and will reduce scratching.

Body-Solid Functional Training Center has two weight stacks, up to 310 lbs (upgradeable). This is quite enough and will give you plenty of options. Pulleys can be set to 20 different heights, independently. They rotate 180º, giving you even more options, and following your natural movement patterns. Fiberglass reinforced nylon pulleys will last, and they have universal connections which will work with any attachment (you will also get enough handles to get you started). Cables are 4.8 mm thick and will withstand more than 2500 lbs of pressure.

Overall, Body-Solid Functional Training Center is a quality piece of equipment, especially when looking at its price. If you are looking to add some cables to your workout routine, but don’t have too much money, this is the device you should get, at least in our opinion.


What We Like

  • 310 lb stacks 
  • Durable, thick steel, good finish
  • 20 positions

What We Don't Like

  • Other systems have better extras 

2. BodyCraft PFT V2 Personal Functional Trainer

PFT V2 by BodyCraft is an excellent machine, a true functional trainer that is designed to follow your natural motion. This system allows you to perform more than 70 exercises. It even has a built-in workout guide, that will let you see all of them, which we like a lot. A workout DVD is included too. The design is quite compact and can fit in the corner of your exercise room. Dimensions are 39” L x 52" W x 82”H, and the whole thing is made out of thick, heavy-gauge steel tubing. Platinum grey and textured black powder coat finishing is really tough, and won’t get scratched easily.

Dual, 160 lbs weight stacks are smooth and are also upgradable to 210 lbs per stack. 2:1 cable ratio will allow you fluid movement, and also a more extensive range of motion when performing the exercises. The aircraft cables have long travel, and can take up to 2000 lbs of pressure. With the machine, you will get plenty of attachments, and it also has a pull-up bar.

BodyCraft PFT V2 Personal Functional Trainer is an excellent system. A lot of attachments, quality build and built-in exercise book make this machine stand out from the rest.


What We Like

  • Built-in exercise guide
  • Excellent quality machine
  • Good extras

What We Don't Like

  • 2:1 weight ratio

3. Inspire Fitness SCS System-  All In One Gym - Editors Choice

This is an amazing device, and if you are looking for an all-in-one solution, a complete home gym system, Inspire Fitness SCS is the one you get. This is a Smith machine, functional trainer and cage system hybrid. Yes, it is enormous- Depth 60" x Width 74.9" x Min Height 80.3"- but that is not an issue since this is the only system you will ever need. It has a robust, heavy-duty frame made from 2’’ x 4’’ oval, and 3’’ round 11 gauge steel, ensuring maximal stability and long life.

Inspire Fitness SCS is a hybrid machine. First, you have your power rack (you need to buy the barbell and weights separately), which will allow you to perform all the traditional free weight exercises, safely, protected by safety bars. On the front, you have a Smith machine bar, which will provide even greater safety. The third essential part is the functional trainer itself. Two independent 160 lbs weight stacks have plenty of holes to put the pulleys in different positions, high and low. They can be upgraded to 200 lbs. Pulleys are fiberglass reinforced and will last, cables too. The machine has an excellent, knurled pullup bar too. You get plenty of attachments too- d-handles, ankle straps, aluminum D-handles, ankle straps, dip belt. You can also opt for a bench and abdominal bar.

Inspire Fitness did a great job with this machine. If you need a complete home gym system, all in one device, SCS Smith Cage System is a perfect solution.


What We Like

  • Power rack
  • Smith machine
  • Rugged design
  • Functional trainer

What We Don't Like

  • No major flaws, this is the best system in our opinion

4. XMark Functional Trainer Cable Machine

This functional trainer made by XMark has two 200 lbs weight stacks in the “default” version, which is a bit more than most other systems, which usually have 2x160 lbs. Stacks are independent of one another, allowing you to perform iso-lateral movements. It is a very good machine, made out of quality, durable 11-gauge, 2’’x3’’ steel. The machine is commercial grade and will last a lifetime.

Pulleys are very good, easily adjustable to 19 positions. They travel smoothly, following your natural movement patterns. Cables extend up to 81’’ from the pulleys, allowing you to perform any exercise with proper form.

The machine has a multi-grip pull-up bar that will allow you to perform different variations of this old-school exercise. The bar is rubberized, enabling comfortable grip that won’t slip. You get a lot of extras with it too- hand straps, knurled long bar, long handles, triceps rope, short bar, leg straps, ankle straps, and even a workout wall poster.

We like XMark Functional Trainer Cable Machine. It is a quality piece of equipment, quality made, with a fair price tag. You can’t go wrong with it.


What We Like

  • Two, 200 lb stacks
  • Good extras

What We Don't Like

  • 2:1 weight ratio might be insufficient for stronger lifters

5. Inspire Fitness Ft2 Functional Trainer

If you don’t have enough room (or don’t need) for the Inspire Fitness SCS, the Ft2 is an excellent option too. It is a functional trainer/Smith machine combo, which will allow you to perform a multitude of exercises. It also saves up space, since you don’t need to get a Smith machine or power rack separately. The device is rugged, and thick, heavy-duty oval and rectangular steel won’t ever break.

The bearing system is steel, made with precision, and will travel all the way smoothly. Inspire Fitness Ft2 has two weight stacks, and the dual pulley system can be adjusted to 32 positions. Each stack has 160 lbs of weight and can be upgraded to 210 lbs. Stacks have magnetic safety pins. This model has an innovative weight multiplier, which will create more tension for those of you who really lift heavy. Pulleys are nylon, fiberglass reinforced.

Inspire Fitness Ft2 has a pull-up bar that is adjustable to different heights. It also has a triceps rope, d-handles, EZ curl bar, straight bar, multifunctional belt, ankle cuffs, add-on weights, exercise booklet, and even water bottles. Of course, the Smith bar is also there, which will allow you to perform some multi-joint exercises such as squats. You can also opt for a bench.

Inspire Fitness Ft2 is a complete home gym system, an excellent device. The Smith machine part makes this piece of equipment stand out, as it allows you to perform even more exercises. If you can afford Inspire Fitness Ft2, it should be one of your top picks.


What We Like

  • Smith machine
  • Heavy-duty
  • Weight-multiplier

What We Don't Like

  • Pricey

6. BodyCraft HFT Functional Trainer Home Gym

Another machine from BodyCraft, HFT Functional Trainer is a proper cable pulley system. It has a dual, 150 lb stacks (that can go up to 200lbs) that has a 2:1 ratio, for maximum comfort, smoothness, and range of motion. The machine is not too big, unlike many other systems, and can fit the corner of the room easily. Dimensions are 40” Lx 55" W x 82" H, and made out of heavy-duty steel, with a lifetime warranty. The finishing is powder coated, and the device looks nice.

The pulleys can be set to 31 different positions, and are rotatable to 180 degrees. Cables are strong, able to withstand up to 2000 lbs of pressure, and are quite long- they travel almost 80 inches. This allows maximal mobility to perform every exercise, no matter how tall you are.

Like with the previous model we have reviewed, this BodyCraft functional trainer has a built-in exercise book, with a handy description of more than 70 exercises. Besides this, HFT trainer has a multi-grip pull-up bar, and a variety of exercises, including handles, long bar, and sports stick with bearings, triceps rope, assist straps, ankle cuffs and chains.

BodyCraft HFT Functional Trainer Home Gym is a very good system with a hefty amount of extras, has an excellent price/quality ratio and is a great buy overall.


What We Like

  • Smooth operation
  • Compact
  • 31 positions

What We Don't Like

  • You will probably need to upgrade the stacks with more weight

Bonus: Rep Functional Trainer Attachment Package

This one is not a functional trainer, but a set of extras that fits all other machines we have presented in this article. As we have said in the “How to choose” part, the more extras you have, the more exercises you will be able to perform, and you will get a better workout. And also, attachments can break and are more prone to daily wear and tear than the steel tubing of your machines so that you might need some replacements.

Rep Fitness has you covered- in this set, you will find all that you need. All the attachments you find in this package are commercial grade, very durable. It includes a curl bar, triceps rope, single short bar, a 44’’ knurled straight bar and ankle cuffs. In short, all attachments you might need for a full-body workout.


Wrapping up - The Best Tasting Low-carb Protein Powder

In the article above, we have tried to explain why you need to get a functional trainer, what to look for when purchasing one, and have presented you with some excellent options. Consider your goals, budget, and all the advice and recommendations we have given to you in this article, and make a choice.

 If you decide to pick one of the devices we have reviewed here, be sure that you made the right decision, no matter which one you picked. They are all top-quality, and can at least serve as benchmarks when browsing.

Still, if you ask us which one is the best, it is the Inspire Fitness SCS System- All In One Gym. This system is unique since it gives you the opportunity to exercise with free weights, inside a power rack safely. This unusual combination- power rack+Smith machine+functional trainer- will be pretty much all you need to have in your home gym, apart from the actual barbell with some plates, and some kind of a cardio device.


About the Author

Hi everyone, I am Walter, Main Editor of and a Fitness Trainer with over 4 years of experience. I’ve also been promoting clean eating, a healthy lifestyle, and Organic products.