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Can You Build Muscle With a Functional Trainer? A Deep Dive In Functional Training Gains

Can you Build Muscle With a Functional Trainer Featured Image

Can you build muscle with a functional trainer machine?

The answer is a resounding YES.

Based on the question, you're debating using a functional trainer at the gym, or your looking for the best functional trainer for your home gym

Which ever it is, functional trainers are versatile machines specifically designed to target multiple muscle groups, which allows you to create a comprehensive and effective workout plan.

With the ability to perform multiple exercises on one machine, functional trainers are not only great for building strength and muscles in the gym but also at home.

As functional trainers provide a full range of motion, they support exercises that mimic real-life movements, enhancing your functional performance and muscle development.

By incorporating functional training exercises into your workout routines, you can build an amazing physique while targeting multiple muscle groups simultaneously.

Whether you're working on upper body exercises, core strength, or lower body workouts, a functional trainer offers a wide array of exercises suitable for any fitness level.

To successfully build muscle with a functional trainer, it's important to create a well-rounded workout routine that consists of compound movements, isolation exercises, and varying levels of intensity.

By targeting specific muscle groups and progressively increasing resistance, you can gradually build your physique and achieve your fitness goals.

Some examples of functional muscle-building exercises include cable chest presses, cable rows, and cable squat variations.

Applying these exercises into your workout routine will certainly aid in developing a strong, toned, and sculpted body.

Understanding Functional Trainers

Functional trainers are versatile pieces of gym equipment designed to mimic natural movement patterns, allowing users to perform a wide range of exercises to target multiple muscle groups.

With a functional trainer, you can build an amazing physique either at your local gym or in the comfort of your home.

Let's delve into the benefits of functional trainers and how they differ from traditional machines.

Benefits of Functional Trainers

Functional trainers offer several advantages when it comes to building muscle:

  • Variety of exercises: These machines enable users to perform numerous exercises targeting various muscle groups, providing a complete workout experience.
  • Improved muscle balance: Functional trainers promote the development of stabilizer muscles, resulting in greater muscle balance and coordination.
  • Enhanced customization: With adjustable cables, pulleys, and attachments, functional trainers can be easily customized to suit different body types and fitness levels.
  • Low impact: The smooth, controlled movements reduce the risk of injury compared to free weights or traditional machines, making it suitable for all ages and fitness levels.
  • Space efficiency: A single functional trainer can replace multiple traditional machines, saving space in your home gym.

Check out: Benefits of Owning a Functional Trainer 

How They Differ from Traditional Machines

Functional trainers and traditional machines serve different purposes and have distinct advantages and disadvantages. Here are some key differences:

Functional Trainers Traditional Machines
Versatile, allowing for a wide range of exercises on a single machine. Generally designed to target specific muscle groups, limiting exercise options.
Encourage natural movement patterns, promoting functional strength and muscle balance. Often lock users into fixed movement patterns, which may not translate well to real-life activities.
Customizable to accommodate different body types and fitness levels. May not provide the same level of customization, making it difficult for some users to achieve a comfortable and effective workout.
Require more engagement from stabilizer muscles, improving overall functional strength. Typically isolate major muscle groups, potentially neglecting the development of stabilizer muscles.


When building muscle with a functional trainer, you can incorporate a variety of exercises into your routine, such as chest presses, cable rows, and shoulder raises. Combine these exercises with compound movements like squats and lunges to target multiple muscle groups simultaneously, providing an efficient and effective muscle-building workout.

Building Muscle with a Functional Trainer

A functional trainer is an incredibly versatile piece of equipment that can not only help build muscle, but also improve your overall strength and functional fitness. With a wide range of exercises and resistance settings, you can create an effective workout routine that targets every major muscle group in your body.

Proper Technique and Form

Like any exercise, proper technique and form are essential when using a functional trainer. Start by adjusting the pulleys and weight stacks to the appropriate height and resistance level for the exercise you'll be performing.

When executing each movement, maintain control and focus on engaging the correct muscle groups. Maintain a neutral spine and avoid using momentum to lift the weights—instead, rely on your muscles to complete the movements. To prevent injuries and ensure effectiveness, always warm up and stretch before starting your workout.

Selecting Appropriate Exercises

A functional trainer enables various exercises to target specific muscles. To build muscle efficiently, select exercises that engage multiple muscle groups, commonly known as compound exercises. Examples of these include:

  • Chest presses
  • Rows
  • Shoulder presses
  • Squats
  • Deadlifts

Combine compound exercises with isolation exercises to target specific muscle groups for a well-rounded workout routine. As your strength and proficiency improve, you can add more advanced exercises using the functional trainer.

Progressive Overload for Muscle Growth

To effectively build muscle with a functional trainer, progressive overload is crucial. This principle involves gradually increasing the stress and demand on your muscles over time, facilitating growth and adaptation. Here are some ways to apply progressive overload using a functional trainer:

  1. Increase the weight or resistance as your strength improves.
  2. Gradually increase the number of repetitions or sets within your workout.
  3. Shorten rest periods between sets, allowing your muscles to work harder in a shorter amount of time.
  4. Vary the exercises you perform and the order in which you do them, providing new challenges for your muscles.

By incorporating appropriate exercise selection, proper form, and progressive overload into your functional trainer workouts, you can successfully build muscle and develop an impressive physique.

Sample Functional Trainer Workout Routine

A functional trainer machine can undoubtedly help you build an incredible physique, both at the gym and in your own home.

The versatility of the equipment enables users to target various muscle groups and perform a variety of exercises for optimal muscle development.

Let's explore a sample workout routine using a functional trainer, with sub-sections focusing on upper body exercises, lower body exercises, and compound movements for overall development.

Upper Body Exercises

Integrating upper body exercises into your functional trainer workout routine will strengthen and build muscles in your shoulders, chest, arms, and upper back. Here are some excellent exercises to include:

  • Chest fly
  • Seated row
  • Single-arm biceps curl
  • Tricep pushdown
  • Lat pulldown

Lower Body Exercises

Lower body exercises focus on your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves, ensuring balanced and proportional muscle development. Some effective lower body exercises on a functional trainer are:

  • Squats
  • Split lunges
  • Leg curls
  • Glute kickbacks
  • Standing calf raises

Compound Movements for Overall Development

Compound movements involve multiple muscle groups and joints, promoting functional strength and muscle synergy. These exercises are crucial for overall development and achieving a well-rounded physique. Incorporate the following compound exercises into your functional trainer workout routine:

  • Deadlifts
  • Bent-over rows
  • Standing shoulder press
  • Squat
  • Push-ups
  • Farmer's walk

By incorporating these functional trainer exercises into your workout routine, you'll effectively engage various muscle groups, improving your strength, and shaping an impressive physique.

A functional trainer machine truly does offer a comprehensive solution for building muscle and achieving your fitness goals. Enjoy your workouts!

Incorporating The Functional Trainer Into Your Workouts

A functional trainer can complement various existing workout routines, making it an effective addition in your journey to build muscle.

It offers versatility and adaptability to engage multiple muscle groups simultaneously. Let's look at some actionable ways to incorporate the functional trainer into your workouts:

1. Circuit Training: Functional trainers allow you to perform supersets and compound exercises seamlessly. By moving quickly between exercises, you can maintain intensity and keep your heart rate elevated, promoting muscle growth and endurance.

  • Exercise 1: Row to chest fly
  • Exercise 2: Squat to overhead press
  • Exercise 3: Lunge with a rotation

2. Strength and Conditioning: Pair functional trainer exercises with traditional strength training movements to diversify your workouts and challenge your muscles in new ways.

Exercise Pairing Functional Trainer Exercise Traditional Strength Exercise
Upper Body Cable crossover Dumbbell bench press
Lower Body Cable pull-through Barbell Deadlift

3. Core Focus: Engage your core muscles with functional trainer exercises that challenge stability and balance while emphasizing muscle growth.

  1. Pallof press
  2. Single-leg squat with cable row
  3. Reverse woodchop

As you progress, vary the exercises and weight to continue challenging your muscles and prevent plateaus. The key is consistency and continually pushing your limits in order to reap the full benefits of incorporating a functional trainer into your workouts.

Tailoring the Workout to Your Needs

Whether you're hitting the gym or training at home, functional trainers can provide an excellent and versatile tool for building muscle mass. Their unique design and adjustable settings make them perfect for tailoring your workout to your specific needs.

Adjusting for Experience Levels

One of the best aspects of functional trainers is their adaptability to users of any experience level. Here are some ways to adjust your functional trainer workout based on your fitness level:

  • Beginners: Start with basic exercises like cable rows, squats, and chest presses. Focus on mastering form and technique, increasing weight gradually to avoid injury.
  • Intermediate: Add more complex movements, such as single-leg deadlifts, shoulder presses, and lunges. Incorporate supersets or circuit training to increase intensity.
  • Advanced: Challenge your muscles further with advanced exercises like cable flys, pistol squats, and rotational movements. Use progressive overload techniques, like increasing weight or adding drop sets, to continue pushing your limits.

Balancing Muscle Groups

A well-rounded workout routine should target all primary muscle groups, including your chest, back, legs, shoulders, and arms. Utilizing a functional trainer effectively can help you achieve a balanced and efficient workout. Consider incorporating the following exercises for a balanced muscle-building routine:

Muscle Group Exercise
Chest Cable chest press, cable flys
Back Cable rows, lat pulldowns, seated cable face pulls
Legs Cable squats, cable lunges, single-leg deadlifts
Shoulders Standing cable shoulder press, lateral raises
Arms Tricep pushdowns, bicep curls, hammer curls

Remember to adjust the weight, sets, and repetitions depending on your experience level and individual goals. Always consult a fitness professional if you're unsure about which exercises are right for you, and pay close attention to your body to prevent injuries.


In summary, a functional trainer provides an effective way to build muscle and achieve an amazing physique.

By incorporating versatile exercises that target various muscle groups, users can effectively maximize their workouts and enhance muscle growth, both at the gym and in the comfort of their own homes.

    By consistently integrating these elements into your workout routine, you will be well on your way to building muscle and achieving a well-rounded, powerful physique using a functional trainer.

    So, whether you're new to fitness or a seasoned gym-goer, adding a functional trainer to your arsenal of fitness equipment can undoubtedly take your muscle-building progress to the next level.

    If you are interested a new functional trainer, check out our collection of different functional trainer machine brands and models where you can certainly find one that fits your needs!

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    About The Author

    Matt Gemkow, the author of this content section at Select Fitness USA, boasts more than 15 years of fitness experience. He started out in sports and athletic training for many years and has since 2014 transitioned into heavy-weight training and bodybuilding. As a result, he has become one of the most experienced fitness equipment experts out there, and a valuable source of information.