home multi-gym workout plan
Workouts

A Guide to the Ultimate Home Multi-Gym Workout Plan

Becoming popular in the 1990s, multi-gyms have become a common piece of equipment found in homes to be used for home workouts inside hotel gyms.  The basic tenet of a multi-gym is that it offers all-in-one workout stations to train the entire body with one machine.

Advantages of a Multi-Gym

Using a multi-gym and having a home multi-gym workout plan can offer a ton of benefits that can’t be found with other equipment.  Here are the best advantages of a multi gym.

1. Saves space

Instead of needing to buy multiple pieces of gym equipment, a multi-gym is essentially one piece of equipment.  This can save you a lot of space if you have a limited amount.  This is why they are popular for home workouts

2. Time-efficient

Being that everything is right in one location, it is very easy to hop from one exercise to another which cuts down on gym time.  This can also make it great for circuit training workouts.  You should be able to get an entire workout in 30-45 minutes.

3. Beginner-friendly exercise

Being that they are all machine-based, the exercises are relatively simple to perform.  This means you don’t need to waste a ton of money on a personal trainer.

4. Cost-effective (relative)

Instead of buying expensive equipment for each body part, you only need to buy one.  It will still cost a bit of money upfront but it is far less expensive than buying individual machines.

Disadvantages of a Multi-Gym

Not everything is perfect.  Here are some disadvantages:

1. It lacks lower body exercises 

Other than leg extensions and possibly leg curls, multi gyms rarely offer lower body exercises.  If you’re lucky, you can find one which has cables so you can perform some form of deadlifts, squats, or pull-throughs.   Still, it’s probably not enough weight to cause a sufficient load if you are somewhat experienced.  Therefore, you may need to use bodyweight exercises to train the legs.

2. It may get boring

Being that it is limited in exercises, a multi-gym can become a bit boring after a while.  Obviously, this depends on the person’s mentality and what they’re training for.

3. Maybe cumbersome 

Again, being that it is one big weight machine, it is difficult for it provides the perfect set-up for each exercise.  You may need to adjust a bit to perform exercises correctly.

10 Best Exercises to Add to Your Home Multi-Gym Workout Plan

Multi-gym systems are all a bit different so your multi-gym may not have all of these exercises.  However, most will so you should be ok.  Here are the best exercises to do using a multi-gym.

1. Lat Pull Down

It’s safe to say that every multi gym has an overhead pulldown bar to perform lat pulldowns.  That’s good because they have been a classic workout staple since gym life started.  It’s one of the best machine exercises for the entire back and biceps.  Obviously, it’s going to concentrate on the lats but the entire back gets a great workout.  Still, you can also change your grip to change some muscle activation:

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Prone grip (Overhand): Will concentrate on the lats and lower traps more.

Underhand grip (Underhand): Will concentrate on the upper traps and biceps more.

2. Back Rows

Many multi-gyms will have either handles for rows or use a method that attaches single-hand attachments.  Either way is going to replicate barbell rows which is an excellent exercise.  You will also be able to use them uni-laterally which is an easy alteration to change up the same exercise.  Rows are a great pulling exercise for your entire back and biceps with emphasis on the traps.

3. Chest Press

Chest presses are a great alternative to the bench press if needed.  It works the chest, shoulders, and triceps similarly to the bench press yet is done in a sitting position.  One benefit the chest press does have is the ability to use both a prone and neutral position for grip positions.  for pressing.  A neutral grip can place more emphasis on the triceps due to more elbow flexion while also being more comfortable for some lifters.

4. Shoulder Press

The last big upper body compound exercise you can do with most multi gyms is shoulder presses.  Overhead pressing is a great movement to improve the mobility of your shoulder along with strengthening the shoulder and triceps.  When using a multi-gym, overhead pressing movements are usually performed in the seated position.

5. Chest Fly

Chest flies are an isolation exercise for your chest using horizontal adduction but it will also involve some shoulder action.  Horizontal adduction is the main movement of the chest muscles and can generate some major activation.  Being that it is an isolation exercise, you will generally use this in the 8+ rep range. 

6. Reverse Fly

Reverse flies are easy to do as you just turn around and do a similar motion as a chest fly.  Since you are now pulling the resistance towards your back, you will be using your back muscles, primarily your rhomboids and traps.  These are a great addition to any movement and should also be performed in the 8+ rep range.

7. Leg Extensions

As mentioned above, while multi gyms usually don’t offer a large compound movement for the lower body, many will have leg extensions and leg curls (below).  Leg extensions are a commonly used isolation movement for the quadriceps.

8. Leg Curls

On the backside of your legs, you have your hamstrings which are responsible for knee flexion.  In the same manner, leg extensions isolate your quadriceps, leg curls are going to isolate your hamstrings.

9. Bicep Curls

Bicep curls are going to be your primary elbow flexion isolation movement.  Hence the name, they are going to concentrate on biceps activation.  The best way to perform this is with the pulley system.  If you have multiple attachments, use multiple attachments as there are multiple biceps-focused exercises.   A list of several biceps curls are:

  • Straight bar curl
  • Hammer curl w/ rope
  • Reverse curl
  • EZ curl bar
  • Single-arm w/ single hand attachment
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You will see “bicep curl” in the program so you would be best by just rotating through your options.

10. Triceps Extensions

Triceps extensions are going to isolate your triceps in the same manner as bicep curls work your biceps.  Similarly, multiple variations are depending on the attachments you have available.  Here is a list of your main options

  • Triceps pushdown with a straight bar
  • Triceps pushdown with V- handle
  • Reverse triceps extension
  • Triceps extensions w/ rope

Exercise Tips

If possible, it would be great to have some equipment for bodyweight exercises as well as light dumbbells.  A simple pull-up bar and TRX handles significantly increases the number of exercises you can perform.

The Best Way to Keep Track of your Lifts

If you haven’t been keeping track of your lifts you need to start..now!  To progress, you need to implement a basic principle called “progressive overload”.  This clearly states that to continue progressing, you need to consistently place a slightly larger stimulus on the body over time.  This slight stimulus is what will activate muscle hypertrophy and increase neural control. 

Basically, it means lifting more!

As the saying goes, “To know where you’re going, you need to know where you came from.”  This can be easily applied to lifting in that you need to know how much weight you lifted last week to know how much to lift this week.

Being that you are most likely using a multi-gym at home, the easiest method would be to create a simple Excel sheet.  Free, simple, and gets the job done. There are various apps out there that you could use, but since you are limited to the exercises you can use, they are a bit much for your needs.

To keep track of your exercise journey, simply write the exercise, the weight used, and the number of sets and reps.  This looks like this:

Lat Pull-Down: 50lbs 3×8

The Ultimate Beginner’s Home Multi-Gym Workout Plan

Beginners do really well using full-body workouts three times a week.  By coincidence, this style also works really well with a multi-gym simply due to the lack of exercises that a trainee can do.   Therefore, you. are going to use a full-body strength training workout every day.

Because you are new, you will not be placing as large of a load on the body which means you can recover easily.  When using a workout program that has two or more muscle groups on the same day, you want to alternate the order of movements to mitigate fatigue.  This is going to look like this:

  • Pushing (Chest, shoulders, and triceps)
  • Legs
  • Pulling (Back and biceps)
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You are also going to order the exercises so that you do the largest exercise first and then move down from there.

Day 1Leg Press OR Body Squats: 5×5 OR  5x2RIR
Chest Press: 4×6
Lat Pull Down (Underhand): 4×6
Leg Extensions: 3x2RIR (8-15 reps)
Triceps Extension: 3x2RIR (8-15 reps)
Core
Day 2Leg Press OR Lunges: 4×8 OR  5x2RIR
Back Rows: 4×6
Chest Flies: 3x2RIR (8-15 reps)
Leg Curls: 3x2RIR (8-15 reps)
Bicep Curls: 3x2RIR (8-15 reps)
Core (Abdominal muscles and lower back)
Day 3Leg Press OR Split Lunges: 4×10 OR 5x2RIR
Shoulder Press: 4×6
Lat Pulldown (overhand): 4×6
Leg Curls: 3x2RIR (8-15 reps)
Reverse Flies: 3x2RIR (8-15 reps)
Triceps extension: 3x2RIR (8-15 reps)

Everything remains the same except for the leg extensions/curls and bicep/triceps.  For those, you will continue to alternate them every other workout.

The only rule is to have at least one day in between your training days and no more than two rest days.  Other than that, it doesn’t matter what your weekly routine looks like.  Mon/Wed/Fri/, Mon/Wed/Sat, Sun/Tue/Thu.  Any of these work.

How To Progress

You will use two methods to utilize progressive overload.  For your compound movements, you will simply increase the volume every week.  You will do this by slightly increasing the load. 

Week 1: Lat Pulldown 3×8 50lbs

Week 2: Lat Pulldown 3×8 52 lbs

If the jumps are too large, increase the number of reps instead.

Week 1: Lat Pulldown 3×8 50lbs

Week 2: Lat Pulldown 3×9 50lbs

Then, after 4 weeks of training, change the rep scheme by lightening the load and perform more reps.  After 4 weeks, go back

For the isolation movements, you will use a method called reps in reserve (RIR).  This simply has you perform a movement until a certain amount of fatigue.  For example, 2RIR means 2 reps in reserve.  This means to perform a movement until you have about 2 more reps left in the tank (with good form). 

For these, you will start with weight.  Once you can perform 15 good reps, you will increase your weight.  The number of reps will change with these.  For example, perhaps you are very fatigued from your compound sets, you may not be able to do as many reps of the isolation movements.  That’s ok.  Just keep moving.

Conclusion

That’s all you need for an effective workout and exercise routine using a multi gym.  Building muscle is simple if you have the right plan, whether it’s a full gym, bodyweight only, or using a multi gym.  The same principles apply no matter what equipment you are using; and now that you know that and what to do, it’s time to get to work. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you build muscle with home workouts?

You should be able to but it depends on your current condition.  Any type of weight training will add muscle if you can create a sufficient stimulus.  Basically, if you cannot easily stack the entire weight stack (15+ reps), there should be enough weight to stimulate muscle hypertrophy.

Can I lose weight using a multi-gym?

Yes.  To begin, weight loss is done by creating a caloric deficit; however, resistance training is a great way to enhance the effects.  When using a proper strength training routine, you will not only burn extra calories, you will build muscle so that you look great when you do shed the fat.

Garett Reid

Garett Reid is a sports and performance consultant. He has over 10 years of experience working in the fitness industry and has worked in virtually every field; strength & conditioning coach, gym owner, educator, and consultant. Garett also has extensive experience working in the international sector in China and Thailand. Garett currently has his Masters in Exercise Science and holds his NSCA CSCS and CISSN certification. He will begin work on his Ph.D. this year.

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