A superb variation to the regular functional trainers with weight stacks is the plate loaded functional trainers. Let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of the plate loaded functional trainers and the best models available in this gym equipment.
Besides having similar functionalities to the regular functional trainer with weight stacks, a plate-loaded trainer is cheaper and lighter.
Individuals having weight plates can use them with this trainer in an effective manner. One concerning point here is that plate-loaded trainers do occupy more space, and also, changing weights is a painstaking process comparatively.
Reasons to Choose a Plate Loaded Functional Trainer
Most functional trainers come with a weight stack built into the trainer, while plate-loaded trainers are not a common sight.
So, what are the top reasons to choose a plate loaded trainer?
Understand the pros and cons of such trainers can help individuals make an informed choice regarding their choice of trainer.
The pros of a plate loaded functional trainer include:
- Small in size though extra space is needed around the trainer
- Can make use of weight plates available with the individual
- Similar in functionality to the functional trainer with weight stacks
- Much lighter
The primary difference between a plate loaded and a weight stack functional trainer is how resistance is handled.
In place of a couple of weight stacks, there are one or two sleds onto which weights can be added. Though this might not seem like a vast difference, it is indeed a crucial one.
As there are no weight stacks, the machine is also comparatively smaller and, of course, lighter.
Don’t get the space feature wrong here. Though the machine occupies a smaller size, it does require a much bigger space to use it—mainly because the plates can be reached only from the rear, and the plates keep protruding outside the machine.
So, compared to a regular functional trainer, we need extra space at the back of the machine as moving space is required to load the sleds.
Moving plate loaded machines are easier as they are lighter, and the weight can also be easily removed.
Above all, the main reason why many individuals prefer a plate loaded trainer over a regular trainer is because of its affordable nature.
As many of you are aware, the weight stacks are expensive, and not having to procure them reduces much money spent. But, if you are one of those who don’t have weights at home, there is a need to spend money.
So, a plate loaded trainer is a cheaper option only for those individuals who already have weight plates set up in the home gym.
In terms of functionality, if the pulley (two) are fully adjustable and the cables can be loaded to the same resistance, expect zero difference in the functionality between a weight stack functional trainer and a load plated trainer.
The main cons of a plate loaded functional trainer include:
- The models available are limited
- A very simple design implementation
- Occupies extra space behind the machine
- Increased time consumed in changing resistance levels
- Additional cost incurred in procuring weight plates (if not available with the individual)
Exercise equipment relies mainly on resistance levels to produce challenging workout variations, and the difficulty in changing the resistance levels is one of the biggest drawbacks of a plate loaded machine.
Weight stacks come with a pin where we simply pull the pin out and insert it into another hole to change the weight.
Whereas weight plates require additional time to add the weight of all the plates and require manual labor.
Also, the location of the sleds (at the back of the machine) requires the individual to use the trainer to walk back and make the necessary changes. So, there is a mandatory need for some extra space to move freely between the back and front of the machine.
Whereas, weight stacks can be adjusted from the front part of the machine, thereby not requiring any space at the back (the machine can be set against the wall).
Though plate loaded machines don’t need weight plates, if the individual doesn’t have them, there is a need to procure them.
Be ready to spend an extra few hundred dollars in that case.
Best Plate Loaded Functional Trainers Review
Truthfully, don’t expect many choices when it comes to plate loaded functional trainers. There are only two main choices, and getting either of these might be a difficult task too!
Titan Fitness Plate Loaded Functional Trainer
Titan is a simple but superb brand that guarantees a piece of solid gym equipment. This model from the manufacturer also falls into this category satisfying all our requirements from a functional trainer.
There are two pulleys on either side, both fully adjustable, and we have a cable end in the center for performing low pulls and similar other exercises.
Doing lat pulldowns is easier here as we have a central pulley on the top. With a maximum weight limit of 220lbs on either handle, it is good to use by most individuals.
Though look-wise, it’s not satisfactory, in terms of functionality and quality, we cannot expect anything better than this model.
Powertec Streamline Functional Trainer
Another choice is the Powertec Streamline trainer, which is simpler in design yet expensive in cost.
The machine has only two pulleys, there is no low pulley or lat pulldown, and the entire machine has a basic design than the previous model.
But, for the extra money paid, the trainer looks elegant with a better finish and good looks. There are no complaints about the looks as it is not a budget model and the maximum weight limit is also 500lbs which is extremely versatile.
But, apart from these, there are no commendable features that justify the high pricing of the machine. It is priced close to functional trainers with weight stacks.
So, when it comes to choosing some other alternative, the best one is to choose a functional trainer with weight stacks. But, individuals looking specifically for plate loaded trainers can try combining two single pulley towers, keeping them next to each other.
It is cheaper, effective, and such towers are fully height adjustable and are plate loaded.
Please remember that these single pulley towers must be loaded from the front usually, whereas, in functional trainers, the loading is done from the sides, which increases the risk of toppling.