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The best heavy duty home gym in the world

Brian Patterson bicep

The Powertec Workbench Multi-System leverage gym is the best seller in the world for good reasons.

If you are looking for a heavy-duty home gym, this is the one. With a maximum capacity of 400 pounds on the super smooth lat pulldown, or up to 500 pounds on the press or squat, this machine is capable of testing even the strongest lifters. 

But it works just as well with lighter weights, too. I’ve had my Powertec gym for more than 10 years. The newer models have some nice improvements, but are essentially the same in terms of how they function mechanically. And I’ve had Zero problems or glitches in that time.

Current Model Powertec MS Workbench

Current Model Powertec MS Workbench

Among the improvements listed by Powertec are:

“IncreasedLat Exercise Options. Added inner lat pull handles give you additional exercises. With over 12 single station machines, each station is pre-set to provide its own individual exercise machine. The user can move quickly from station to station with minimal adjustments. The position of the shoulder press is changed slightly from the previous model.

IncreasedBack Safety

Back padding on the seat hasbeen repositioned for better lower back support. Improved Safety Stopper added for your protection during exercise.”

I’m 60 tat this writing and have adjusted my training approach, using lighter weights for higher reps. But up till about 5 years ago, I was going super heavy on lifts like the bench press. I typically have always worked out alone. You can’t lift heavy when you’re alone using conventional barbells. Too dangerous without a spotter.

Here’s a home video from 2012. The last days of my heavy lifting routines, repping out with the 500 pound limit on my Powertec bench. As you can see, it doesn’t bend or shake. Very, very stable unit.

BTW: Lifting heavy is not the best way to lose fat. The way I train today, lighter weights and higher reps, is a much better fat burner. 🙂

Powertec gives you the option of going heavy or light. Alone or with a couple of people rotating on various stations.

This gym is really for serious lifters. The price tag is not cheap, typically in the $1,700 range. This is not one to buy out of guilt and then use as a coat-rack. You want to be committed to using it and the exercises it offers. And you will need to either already have a supply of Olympic weight plates or be ready to add those to your purchase.

But if you are looking for a rock solid gym that will require virtually no maintenance, this is a great one.

You can perform more than a dozen different exercises with the base package, and up to 3 people can use it at one time. You can also add accessories to broaden the number of exercises to include leg extensions/hamstring curls, pec deck, preacher curl, leg press and more.


Me at 60 in my basement gym, with my Powertec behind me.

        Me & my Powertec. 

There are other leverage style gyms on the market, but personally I can only attest to Powertec. As a leverage gym, it combines the feel and resistance of free weights with the safety and control of a machine. At the same time, the multi system doesn’t use any cables or pulleys, so aside from pure motion, it’s virtually maintenance-free.

The bench press, and the squat, have a strong steel safety pin limiting how far the unit can travel. It’s your spotter. So, on either, you can use a relatively heavy weight without fear of dropping it on your chest or crumpling to the ground under a conventional barbell.

I especially like the bench press and the lat pulldown. 

The Bench Press: 

 My Powertec shown.

My Powertec shown.

The bar itself is shaped more like a bike handlebar than a traditional barbell, so there is no bar across your chest. And you can set it so it actually goes below chest level for a bigger stretch and pump.

You can lift as heavy as you want without fear of dropping the bar on your chest, and without a spotter. So you can workout alone with no problems. It’s also great for shrugs in between bench sets. The bench adjusts to a number of angles for things like Rows to build your back.

The Lat Pulldown: It is just fantastic. So smooth and comfortable. The seat is well padded and nicely angled. There is something powerful about that super smooth leverage action that makes the exercises seem a lot more effective. There’s no jerky-jolt that you sometimes get with a cable machine. I get a great pump in my lats every time on Powertec.

From this seat, you can also do weighted Ab Crunches. The seatback is cleverly hinged so you can pull forward from a seated position. There is a weight horn directly behind the seat back and an attachment to hold as you lean forward in the crunch. Very neatly thought-out.

Overall: The rest of the exercise stations are also well-thought out and engineered. The squat station, for example: the footplate is angled upward. To me, it feels like it takes some pressure off the knees. The shoulder pads fit nicely over each shoulder and are much more comfortable than a conventional straight bar going across the back of your neck. Plus, there’s a level section for your toes to do calf raises.

A. Padded Shoulder Harness B. Angled Foot Pad C. Toe Raise platform

A. Padded Shoulder Harness B. Angled Foot Pad C. Toe Raise platform

There are a few really nice options, Powertec calls them “Accessories” that you can add. I own the older version of these and can attest they work very smoothly and attach/detach quickly and easily.

Workbench Leg Lift Accessory

Workbench Leg Lift

Leg Extensions and Hamstring Curls.

Powertec calls this the “Workbench Leg Lift Accessory.”  You can do both Extensions and Hamstring Curls.

Combined with the standard Squat and Toe Raise, this add gives you a pretty complete lower body workout.

Workbench Curl Machine Accessory

Preacher Curl 

Preacher Curl. Attaches quickly and easily. Nicely padded and smooth operation. Powertec calls this “Workbench Curl Machine Accessory.”

If you like the traditional preacher curl setup, you will love this accessory. Easily adjusts for varying heights. Comfortable padding.

There are additional accessories that I do not own and were not available when I first bought my Powertec. I believe they would perform like the rest of the family: easy to connect, smooth operation.

Pec Fly

Pec Fly

Dip Machine

Dip Machine


If you do opt for this Powertec, you’ll also need to plan on assembly. It’s a big heavy box of thick steel frame pieces. I would recommend at least two people who are comfortable with a wrench in their hands. Or, like me, you can search locally for someone who specializes in putting home gyms together. Powertec points out that it is “remarkably easy” to assemble.

The footprint is fairly compact, measuring only 119 by 82 by 96 inches (W x H x D). The machine, which weighs 475 pounds, carries the following warranties: lifetime on the frame, two years on component parts (such as bearings and spring pins), and one year on pads and grips. It comes in yellow or black or a combination of the two colors.

You will end up with a rock solid home gym that will last just about forever and works all the time with no hassles. If you like the feel of free weights and want the option to go a bit heavy, this is a great choice.

 You can check it out on Amazon here. They also offer free shipping.


How do you feel about home gyms? Please leave a comment or question below. Or drop me a line:

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