The products featured in this article have been independently reviewed. When you buy something through the retail links on this page, we may earn commission at no cost to you, the reader. The Sports Illustrated editorial team is not involved in the creation of this content. Learn more here.
Replicating the functionality of a cable crossover machine or functional trainer, a pulley system lets you perform a variety of strength exercises. A pulley system is also usually more affordable, and there are wall-mounted and portable options for those without the room or budget to buy a functional trainer or multi-use strength training home gym. Power /Squat Rack
In this home gym pulley system buying guide, we will discuss how to choose a pulley system for your home gym, important factors to consider when buying a pulley system and our picks for the best home gym pulley systems.
The Titan Fitness Short Wall Mounted Pulley Tower V3 is our top pick for the best pulley system due to its value, performance and the usability for the average user who doesn’t have a robust home gym. It is a wall-mounted pulley system, so it is quite stable and does not require you to have your own power rack. At a relatively low price point, you can provide your home gym setup with the versatility of a Functional Trainer or commercial cable crossover machine.
As a heavy-duty wall-mounted pulley system, the Titan Short Wall Mounted Pulley Tower V3 is a weight plate-loaded unit, with a high weight capacity of 350 pounds. This is higher than many budget pulley systems, making this pulley tower ideal for serious weightlifters looking to replicate commercial quality gym equipment for home workouts.
The plate-loaded pulley tower features two one-inch weight posts measuring 8.75 inches in length, spring clips that fit the posts and two stirrup handles. Note that because the weight posts are only one-inch in diameter, you can use standard Olympic weight plates or bumper plates, but there will be some amount of movement or sagging.
Titan Fitness has updated the V3 so that the pulley tower is designed as a single, square pole for smooth operation. There is now a modified mounting bracket at the base of the tower for installing it into walls with baseboards for even greater stability during use and rubber feet at the base of the tower to protect your flooring.
Although it is a wall-mounted unit, meaning you don’t need to have a power rack, Titan Fitness Tall Wall Mounted Pulley Tower V3 can also be added to any TITAN Series Power Rack, making it a great option for anyone that already owns the Titan T-3, X-3 or TITAN Series Power Racks, as well as those that want to create a functional trainer on a budget without a power rack.
Another perk of the Titan Fitness Wall Mounted Pulley Tower V3 is that it is made from commercial-grade, heavy-duty steel and has an attractive, powder-coated black, making it durable, rust-resistant and aesthetically-pleasing for your home or garage gym.
The pulley tower features 18 adjustable positions for the height of the pulley system. Dual stirrup handles are included with the unit, and you can purchase additional attachments to facilitate exercises to target more muscle groups, such as a triceps pulldown rope.
Of course, you will need available floor space in front of wherever you mount the unit in order to perform exercises with the full range of motion.
This wall-mounted pulley system offers two swiveling connecting points, which can be used independently at a two-to-one ratio, and there is a one-to-one pulley ratio when you connect the two cables together with a bar, handle or rope attachment. This means that when you perform exercises using a single pulley, if you load up 100 pounds, your effective lifting weight will be 50 pounds, and when you use both cables in tandem, you will be lifting 100 pounds. User reviews note that the cables slide smoothly during operation with no jerky movements.
Overall, although this pulley system is not portable because it must be mounted onto your wall or existing Titan Power rack. However, it’s quite stable, affordable, attractive and a good value for the weight capacity and versatility in the adjustable height positions.
For full-body training, the Force USA MyRack Cable Crossover attachment transforms your existing Force USA MyRack into a complete functional trainer for all of the versatility and functionality of a commercial cable crossover machine right in your own home or garage gym.
The Cable Crossover attachment connects easily to either side of the Force USA MyRack base unit. The advantage of this power rack-mounted pulley system over other similar cable pulley systems that attach to an existing power rack is that the Force USA MyRack Cable Crossover features floating pulleys, giving users 28 different adjustment points to greatly increase the number of exercises and how you can perform them.
Another nice feature of the MyRack Cable Crossover attachment that improves usability is the single-hand pop-pin adjustment system, which makes it easy to move the pulley up and down quickly as you work out.
The pulley system is also fully interchangeable on both sides of the power rack, meaning that you can either buy one attachment for a single side of the Force USA MyRack or you can purchase two attachments to exponentially increase the variety of exercises you can perform, such as cable chest flys, cable standing rows, cable reverse flys and cable chest presses.
It’s important to note that this unit is designed to be compatible specifically with the Force USA MyRack, so if you have a different power rack, you should inquire to see if it will work with your exercise equipment. When adding the pulley system to the MyRack Base Unit from Force, the unit increases width dimensions by 52 inches.
When you purchase a single Force USA MyRack Cable Crossover, you will get a two-to-one pulley ratio, but if you equip your power rack with dual unit and then attach the ends of the cables together with one handlebar, rope or other attachment, the pulley system will provide a one-to-one pulley ratio.
It comes with a low row folding footplate, one strap handle for basic upper-body exercises and adaptors for standard and Olympic weight plates. There is also a seat option available for performing lat pulldowns.
If you have a higher budget and want to outfit your home gym with one of the best functional trainers for serious strength training workouts, it’s worth investing in the heavy-duty REP Fitness FT-5000 Functional Trainer.
The REP Fitness FT-5000 Functional Trainer is a commercial-grade cable strength training machine that provides the full versatility and quality of a cable crossover machine found in commercial gyms.
The functional trainer features 16 cable positions with dual weight stacks. The height of the handle at the highest setting is 52 inches. Each weight stack has a weight capacity of 220 pounds, providing a total of 440 pounds for the unit. There is a two-to-one ratio for the pulleys, which means that loading up 100 pounds will feel like lifting 50 pounds.
REP Fitness has built a reputation for designing and manufacturing commercial-grade strength training equipment for home workouts, and the FT-5000 Functional Trainer exemplifies some of these high-end features, such as a magnetic-tipped pin to lock the weight in place and laser-etched cable markings to easily line up the handles in the desired position. The column handle is mounted on high-quality wheels so that you can smoothly and easily adjust the height of the pulley, even with one hand.
Unlike most strength training equipment, power racks and functional trainers for home use, which are constructed from 12-gauge steel, the REP Fitness FT-5000 Functional Trainer frame uses commercial-grade 11-gauge steel (the lower the gauge, the thicker and stronger the steel), making it super solid and sturdy even for heavy-duty use and maximal load lifts. It’s extremely stable, weighing 1,001 pounds, so you shouldn’t experience any rocking, shaking or wobbling even with maximal effort pulling and pushing exercises. The frame is double-coated with a chip-resistant, electrostatic powder coating and then further coated with a black metallic finish to resist corrosion and provide a striking appearance.
The cables on the FT-5000 Functional Trainer feature smooth, aluminum-reinforced pulleys with a cable travel length of 81 inches. This should be sufficient for users of different heights to perform any number of cable exercises with the complete range of motion. The unit comes with two urethane strap handles, storage pegs for the included attachments and any additional ones you buy and a placard showing 12 exercises you can perform using the machine. There are also rubber-coated pull-up grips.
Another benefit is that there’s a lifetime frame warranty, but just a one-year warranty on hardware, pop-pins, pulleys and cables.
Tonal is a wall-mounted, full-body workout strength training machine with two adjustable arms that can be moved up and down along the length of the machine, making it a great option for your home gym. The grips on the adjustable arms can also be swapped out for different attachments, such as a pulldown bar, rope or one of two different handles to increase the versatility of the machine. The handles have an on/off button, allowing you to get into your starting position before the weight is added onto the system.
Unlike plated-loaded cable machines or all-in-one trainers that use free weights or selectorized weight stacks, the Tonal strength training machine uses magnetic resistance. The system has a maximum resistance for cable exercises of 200 pounds when both arms are used simultaneously, or 100 pounds per arm of the dual-armed machine. Although this maximum resistance should be sufficient for beginners and intermediate athletes, advanced weightlifters and competitive bodybuilders will likely not be challenged sufficiently.
There is a large touchscreen display in the center of the machine where you can stream workout classes targeted towards a variety of different training goals, workout duration, primary muscle groups worked and fitness levels. An added feature is the eccentric mode, which automatically adds a few pounds of resistance to your last couple of reps during the prescribed set and during the “lowering” portion of your lift. This is a benefit for people looking to build muscle (hypertrophy) because studies suggest that the eccentric portion of an exercise may elicit even greater gains in muscle mass and strength. Moreover, it’s nearly impossible to replicate this adjustment on your own with regular free weights, dumbbells or cable machines.
Most Tonal user reviews report that the system makes strength training much more engaging and interactive. Finally, because there are workout classes that provide guidance on proper exercise form, technique and selection to do during a workout, Tonal is also a great option for beginners and intermediate lifters who need additional instruction.
Sunny Health & Fitness makes budget-friendly home exercise equipment, ranging from cardio machines like exercise bikes, treadmills and ellipticals, to strength training equipment and fitness accessories like weight benches, weightlifting straps and even pulley systems.
The Sunny Health & Fitness Lat Pulldown Attachment Pulley System for Power Racks is a power rack-mounted cable pulley system to add to your existing power cage. The pulley system has a maximum weight capacity of 200 pounds, which is on the lighter end for advanced athletes, but typically sufficient for beginners or those at intermediate fitness levels. Note that the cables themselves are nylon coated rather than steel coated, so they might not be as durable and smooth as higher-quality, more expensive pulley systems. The Sunny Health & Fitness Lat Pulldown Attachment Pulley System is constructed using a 2 x 2-inch carbon square pipe and chrome-plated guide rods for enhanced durability and strength.
The Sunny Health & Fitness Lat Pulldown Attachment comes with a 39-inch non-slip row bar attachment for low rows or seated rows, a 20-inch low pull lever and safety clips. It is compatible with standard and Olympic weight plates. The pulley system is counterweighted, which helps with performing bicep curls and underarm upright rows. There are upright handlebars near the base of the unit to increase the versatility of the exercises you can do for total-body workouts, plus built-in safety hook latches to secure the attachment bars when not in use.
This power cage pulley system is compatible with the following Sunny Health & Fitness Power Rack Models: SF-XF9925, SF-XF9931, SF-XF9933 and SF-XF920063. Although it isn’t the most robust home gym cable pulley system on the market, it is affordable, versatile and a good value for those who own a Sunny Health and Fitness Power cage or are looking to buy a budget-friendly power rack simultaneously along with the lat pulldown machine cable pulley attachment.
Although most standalone pulley systems are not particularly expensive, most of the budget-friendly wall-mounted pulley systems or portable pulley systems are also not particularly heavy duty or high-quality, making them more appropriate for beginners only.
However, the Rogue Spud Inc. Pulley Systems is one of the best budget home gym cable pulley systems since it is robust enough to accommodate workouts for even advanced athletes because it has an impressive max weight capacity of 550 pounds. It can be mounted directly onto an existing power rack, but if you do not have one, you can also securely attach it to a pull-up bar or a cross-member bar as you would a suspension trainer.
One of the best features of the Rogue Spud Inc. Pulley Systems is the 18-inch loading strap pin, which is significantly longer than that on most units, and can accommodate up to ten 45-pound plates. You can also add additional free weights, chains or resistance bands to add even more resistance, up to the maximal effective load of 550 pounds.
The cable length is 75 inches, permitting enough workable distance to perform any number of cable exercises with the full range of motion without feeling restricted or limited, even if you are taller or need to stand further from the attachment point to complete the movement. The diameter of the cable is 0.25 inches, so it is sturdy and strong. User reviews note that the cable slides smoothly during operation without any jerky movements or excessive friction.
The Rogue Spud Inc. Pulley Systems can be purchased as either just a Triceps and Lat Pulley Set, a Low Pulley system or a complete pulley system package. This makes the unit an even better budget-friendly option for customers because you can get both units at a discount for total-body training, or just select the one you need if you’re only interested in targeting certain muscle groups.
The Rogue Spud Inc. Pulley Systems Triceps & Lat Pulley Set includes the 75-inch cables, a 2.5-inch swivel-eye pulley, an 18-inch loading strap pin, two matching spring clips and a short triceps/ab strap. The Low Pulley Set has the same cable, pulley and spring clips, but includes a utility stump strap handle and hamstringer deluxe instead of the short triceps/ab strap. The complete Rogue Spud Inc. Pulley Systems includes the contents of both packages, so you get two cable pulley systems.
Although most of the best strength training equipment for home use is typically sold directly from the manufacturer, or from dedicated strength training exercise equipment retailers, you can find a surprising number of decent pulley systems on Amazon. However, sifting through the options to find the best Amazon pulley systems can be overwhelming because there are quite a few poor-quality home gym pulley systems as well.
Our pick for the best Pulley System on Amazon is the FITPARNER Weight Cable Pulley System Gym. This portable home gym cable pulley system includes two pulleys, three cables (two 70-inch cables and one 90-inch cable), a lat pulldown bar and additional cable exercise attachments. The detachable weight loading pin accommodates Olympic weight plates and other standard free weights.
The FITPARNER Weight Cable Pulley System Gym is designed to be a DIY workout pulley system with flexibility to choose how you want to perform various exercises. You can work just your upper body, or can use the double-pulley design to increase the range of exercises for a full-body workout.
There are quite a number of cable pulley attachments that come with this package, making it a great value and starter set for home workouts. It comes with a heavy duty triceps push-down rope, a lat pulldown bar, two handles, two durable straps made of nylon webbing, a one-inch barbell clip, a one-inch detachable loading pin and seven black locking carabiners to secure the attachments to the cables. The weight loading pin is 11.6 inches long, giving you plenty of room to load up standard or Olympic weight plates.
Each of the included attachments is capable of supporting a maximum load of 280 pounds. For example, the exercise handles, which can be used for a variety of upper body exercises are constructed with an industrial strength core, stainless steel d-ring, thick woven nylon webbing and has thick ABS tube grip for enhanced comfort, safety and durability. The lat pulldown bar has a black chrome finish to prevent rusting.
This DIY home gym cable pulley system can be mounted universally on a power rack, squat rack or cable machine, and you can also attach the strap directly to a pull-up bar or overhead beam, making it a portable unit that doesn’t necessarily require mounting on other strength training exercise equipment.
One of the most impressive benefits of this pulley system is that the company backs the product with a lifetime warranty and a 90-day money-back guarantee.
If you want to do total-body workouts with your cable pulley setup in your home or garage gym without being limited by the number of attachments that you have, there are several systems that come as more complete packages with numerous included attachments. Although these typically cost more money, there are some great budget-friendly options on Amazon. The Elikliv Weight Cable Pulley System is a fairly complete wall-mounted home cable pulley system DIY kit. The unit has a stainless steel frame with a fixed pulley, and comes with three different cables, permitting versatility in the positioning of the exercises you perform. The package also comes with a triceps rope, a pair of exercise handles, anti-slip lat pulldown bar, loading pin with a barbell clip, 10 carabiners and all of the tools you need to install the pulley system. The included attachments have comfort grips to prevent slipping and prevent calluses and abrasions on your hands.
You can use either Olympic or standard weight plates and you can secure them in place with the included barbell clip.
The steel cable is more durable than the nylon cables you find on most cheap pulley systems, and it is coated in high-strength polyurethane to reduce friction and provide smooth movement for pushing and pulling exercises. The system has a maximum load-bearing capacity of 220 pounds, which certainly isn’t the highest on the market for home cable pulley systems, but is suitable for most recreational users.
For convenience, the Elikliv Weight Cable Pulley System comes with the drill and drill bits you will need to install the unit as well as the expansion screw, making it a complete DIY system. It can be mounted on a concrete wall but should not be installed on wooden walls or surfaces.
A pulley system mimics the functions of a cable machine in a compact, low-cost manner by using a cable that passes over a pulley wheel to lift weights. One end of the cable is attached to weights and the other end of the cable has a handlebar or strap of some sort that you can hold. As you pull or push on the handle attachment, the cable passes over the pulley wheel and lifts the weight stack, providing resistance for the exercise.
To choose the best home gym pulley systems, we reviewed the top products from the leading manufacturers of home strength training equipment. We evaluated the pulley systems based on their cost and overall value, included attachments, how the unit is mounted, its versatility and compatibility with existing exercise equipment (universal attachment or compatible only with a specific piece of exercise equipment), maximum weight capacity, cable length, quality of construction included materials and design, footprint and the pulley ratio. We also considered the warranty of the product, the reputation of the manufacturer and customer reviews.
As with using any piece of exercise equipment, it is imperative that you understand how to properly use the equipment and perform the exercises you are doing to prevent injuries. Here are a few tips for safely using a pulley system in your garage gym or home:
Read all of the safety information and installation instructions carefully and make sure the unit is properly mounted before using the pulley system.
Particularly if you are a beginner, start with lighter loads for each exercise until you have mastered the proper technique and fully understand how to operate the pulley system.
If you are new to doing cable exercises, begin with basic exercises that you can perform competently with free weights, such as bicep curls. Then progress to compound movements like cable lunges, rows, kneeling hay balers and reverse lunges.
For safety, it’s crucial that you do not load up the pulley system with more weight than the unit is said to support. This can cause catastrophic failure of the pulley or cable and can cause severe injuries.
When you are done with an exercise, release the handle slowly rather than suddenly dropping the pulley because the weight will crash down, causing wear on the cables, pulleys and weight pin.
There are several important factors to consider when choosing a pulley system for your home gym.
Pulley systems for home gyms come in a variety of setups. Choosing the best home gym pulley system design depends on the space you have, the exercise equipment already in your home gym and your budget.
The three main types of pulley systems for home use are wall-mounted pulley systems, rack-mounted pulley systems and portable pulley systems.
Wall-mounted systems are more stable than most portable units because they are anchored into the wall rather than allowed to move around a pull-up bar. They are great if you don’t have the space or budget for a power rack, but as they are affixed to the wall, they aren’t portable and require certain specifications for installing (wall height, available floor space and stud placement).
Rack-mounted pulley systems are extremely stable because they are mounted to your existing power rack, which is typically either anchored to the floor or so heavy that there isn’t any shaking or wobbling. For this reason, rack-mounted pulleys also usually have a higher weight capacity. Plus, adding a cable pulley system adds very little additional height to the power rack and doesn’t change the footprint. These units are also usually relatively inexpensive, proving to be a great value because they greatly increase the versatility of your strength training equipment and enable you to perform many additional exercises to work all of your major muscle groups. The one major downside of rack-mounted cable pulley systems is that you need to have a power rack in your home gym to use them. They are not standalone pulley systems.
Finally, unlike wall-mounted units, portable pulley systems allow you to relocate the unit anywhere, which can be convenient but they are generally less stable and have a lower maximum load capacity. They do tend to be very inexpensive, especially if you buy this type of home gym cable pulley on Amazon, where you’ll often find packages with many included attachments.
The necessary footprint you will need for your pulley system will depend on how the cables are mounted. Pulley systems that attach onto your existing power rack or squat rack typically do not add any additional dimensions to the footprint of the power cage, although you may need some additional height to accommodate the pulley attachment.
Wall-mounted units and portable pulley systems that attach to pull-up bars have the benefit of not eating up floor space on a permanent basis, although you will need to have plenty of open floor space in front of the wall where you mount the cables in order to perform all of the exercises that you need. It is usually a good idea to allow for a 6 x 7-foot space for cable exercises.
One of the main factors to consider when buying a cable pulley system for your home gym is the weight capacity. The weight capacity not only directly determines the maximum amount of weight you’ll be able to lift during your workouts, but also is an indication of the strength and durability of the components and overall construction.
A high weight capacity is particularly important for advanced athletes like bodybuilders, CrossFit enthusiasts and others with a higher fitness level who intend to lift more weight. Beginners can get started with pulley systems with a lower weight capacity. A good rule of thumb is to choose a cable pulley system that has a load capacity that’s about 50 percent higher than your current level if you are an intermediate or have experience strength training. Serious weightlifters should consider commercial grade pulley systems.
There aren’t all that many components to a pulley system for strength training, but certainly the quality of the cables plays a major role in the functional performance, durability and feel of using the exercise equipment.
The major difference between commercial gym quality pulley systems and budget home gym pulley systems is that inexpensive units use lower-quality cables. Thick, military-grade or aircraft-grade cables, or steel-coated cables are not only going to be much more durable and handle a higher weight capacity compared to cheap nylon rope cables, but they will also feel much smoother and glide easily while you exercise with the system.
Nylon cables may feel jerkier as you perform exercises, as more friction is created as the cable passes over the pulley, and these budget-friendly units are prone to premature breakdown.
Another important consideration with the cables is the usable cable length. Pulley systems with longer cables enable even taller users to get a larger range of motion and extend and stretch out to perform a variety of exercises further away from the attachment point of the pulley. If the cables are too short, you’ll be restricted in the range of motion and potentially even the exercises you can perform.
Cable length is especially important with wall-mounted pulley systems because you need to have enough cable length to have the cable and attachments come down far enough away from the wall to perform all the exercises you want without being restricted in the range of motion.
Some of the higher-end home gym cable pulley systems have cables of multiple lengths, allowing you to have more versatility in how you use the unit.
Cable pulley attachments ultimately determine what exercises you can perform and how you can perform them. Having a range of cable attachments, such as a triceps push-down rope, lat pulldown bar, various handles and knurled straight bars will offer you a wider range of possible exercises and will increase the versatility of the unit, essentially creating a budget-friendly functional trainer.
Basic pulley systems may not include any attachments; you’ll need to buy them separately. Other premium cable pulley system packages come with all sorts of included attachments. You’ll want to consider the specific muscle groups you want to work and buy the necessary attachments. If your goal is total-body strength training, it might be a better value to buy a cable pulley system package with lots of attachments already included.
Although the initial price point will be higher than simple pulley systems, the cost for buying each attachment and handle individually will quickly add up, so you can usually get a better deal with a complete total-body training pulley system package. Another money-saving option is to buy the attachments at checkout because they are usually offered at a discounted price when you buy a pulley system rather than a la carte.
DIY home cable pulley systems, wall-mounted pulley systems and even lat pulldown attachment pulley systems are a budget friendly alternative to buying a functional trainer or all-in-one strength training machine. You can expect to pay between $100-400 for these systems versus the several thousand for a commercial-grade cable machine.
Cable machines, also called functional trainers or cable crossover machines, are expensive and take up a lot of floor space. They usually feature a low row and lat pulldown machine pulley system, as well as a height-adjustable pulley attachment so that you can perform a wide range of cable-based exercises. They may be plate-loaded (like most pulley systems) or have weight stacks (termed selectorized equipment).
A pulley system is a compact version of a cable machine that can be mounted to an existing power rack to transform it into a functional trainer, or can be mounted onto the wall so that you don’t have to have a dedicated footprint for a large piece of exercise equipment. These systems are typically not as strong as high-quality functional trainers, but are much more affordable.
Portable pulley systems can be taken with you when you travel and can be used anywhere where you have a secure anchor point such as a pull-up bar or cross beam.
It is possible to structure your workouts to build muscle using a home gym pulley system. Building muscle, or hypertrophy training, requires high-volume, high-intensity training. Most strength training experts suggest using loads that are 65 to 85% of your one-repetition maximum (1RM) for 8 to 12 repetitions per exercise. Each workout should include at least three sets per exercise. It’s important to note that your diet also will impact your ability to build muscle through strength training. Not only is ample protein consumption necessary to build muscle, but most evidence suggests that aiming for a slight caloric surplus (consuming 10-20 percent more calories per day that you’re burning) is the most effective way to support significant muscle growth.
Evidence suggests that cable exercises, and thus home gym pulley systems, indeed are effective for activating and strengthening muscle groups, especially muscles in the upper body. For example, studies have found that cable machine exercises provide even greater activation of certain muscles in the upper body compared to the same exercises performed using selectorized weight training machines.
Therefore, as long as you buy a home gym cable pulley system capable of supporting a maximum load that sufficiently overloads your muscles based on your current level of strength, and you perform well-rounded full-body hypertrophy training workouts with the proper frequency and volume, you can build muscle will a home or garage gym pulley system.
Buying a pulley system for your garage gym or home set up is a great way to replicate the functionality and versatility of a functional trainer or cable machine at a fraction of the price.Choosing the best home pulley system involves considering your budget, workout goals, necessary maximum weight capacity based on your fitness level, the muscle groups you want to target, your available space and/or strength training equipment to mount it to and the functions and features you need.
Prices are accurate and items in stock as of publish time.
Rotating Dumbbells Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, and contributes to several fitness, health, and running websites and publications. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a NSCA-Certified Personal Trainer and USATF level 1 running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, Amber likes running, cycling, cooking, spending time outside and tackling any type of puzzle.This author is writing sponsored content paid for by Pillar4 and not affiliated with Sports Illustrated.