Benefits of a Dual Stack on a Functional Trainer Cable Machine

A dual weight stack

A dual weight stack on a cable machine offers a ton of benefits that enhance the versatility and effectiveness of your workouts. Here’s a closer look at the benefits of a dual weight stack on a functional trainer cable machine (also called a double pulled system cable machine).  

What Does ‘Weight Stack’ Mean?   

When looking at cable machines, you will see “plate-loaded” and “selectorized” options.  

Plate-loaded” equipment uses weight plates to adjust the resistance. "Selectorized weight" refers to a weight stack connected to a cable and pulley system. When you hear “weight stack,” that is referring to selectorized equipment. The key feature of this system is the use of a selector pin (hence the name) that allows you to easily change the resistance level by selecting different amounts of weight.  

Benefits of Selectorized Weight Stack on a Cable Machine 

A selectorized weight stack

Here are some of the benefits of a selectorized weight stack:  

Smooth Movement 

The weights in the stack are pierced with a central hole, allowing them to be threaded onto a guide rod. This keeps the weights aligned and allows them to slide up and down smoothly as the machine is used. 

Smooth Operation 

Weight stacks are designed for smooth operation, reducing the risk of jarring or uneven resistance that you might experience with free weights. This smoothness is beneficial for maintaining proper form and can help in preventing injury. 

Convenience and Speed of Adjustment 

Weight stacks make it easy and quick to change resistance levels between sets or exercises, just by moving the selector pin. This is much faster and less cumbersome than loading and unloading weight plates or adjusting resistance bands. 

Safe and Secure 

A selectorized system is also quite safe because the weights are contained within the machine. There’s no need to manually handle heavy weight plates, which reduces the risk of injury from dropping weights or incorrect loading. 

Precision in Weight Selection 

Selectorized machines allow for precise adjustments in resistance. Since each plate in the stack represents a fixed amount of weight (commonly 10 or 20 pounds), you can increase or decrease the resistance in these exact increments. 

Want to Learn More?

Selectorized weight machines are popular in both commercial gyms and home fitness setups due to their convenience and the effective workout they can provide. They are especially good for beginners or for people who want to quickly move through a routine with minimal setup time between exercises. 

Read more about selectorized vs. plate-loaded strength equipment here.  

What is a Dual Weight Stack? 

The Ares 2.0 cable attachment

A dual weight stack on a cable machine means the machine has two separate weight stacks. This setup is particularly versatile and effective for both individual and shared use in a variety of exercise routines.

Benefits of a Dual Weight Stack on a Cable Machine

Here’s how a dual weight stack works and why it’s so beneficial for your home or commercial gym.  

Versatile (Unilaterial and Bilateral) Training  

Woman training on an Ares 2.0 cable attachment

Dual weight stacks allow for a wider array of exercises than a single weight stack because each cable can be used independently or together. This means you can perform exercises that require alternating movements, such as alternating curls, as well as simultaneous bilateral movements, like cable flies, which might be limited on a single stack machine. 

Independent Movement 

Even when performing bilaterial exercises, with a dual weight stack, each side of the body can work independently. This is particularly beneficial for addressing muscle imbalances or focusing on one side of the body without the other side compensating or dominating. Single weight stack machines typically move both cables together, which can sometimes lead to the stronger side compensating for the weaker side. 

Multiple Lifters  

A dual stack allows two athletes to train on the cable machine simultaneously with separate resistance levels for each. This makes it more efficient in shared spaces like gyms or training facilities or when lifting with a buddy. This feature also allows for dynamic partner workouts.  

Supersets and Dropsets 

Woman lifting on an Ares 2.0

A dual stack also allows a single athlete to superset exercises off each trolley without having to change weights between each set.

With dual stacks, each side can be set to different weights, which is beneficial for exercises that require different resistance levels for each limb or when performing drop sets (gradually reducing the weight used in successive sets without rest). 

Reduced Setup Time 

With dual stacks, the setup time between exercises is minimized; you can quickly adjust weights and switch between exercises without much downtime. This efficiency is beneficial for keeping heart rate up during circuit training or high-intensity workouts. 

Cable Length With Bilateral Training

Man training on the Ares 2.0 cable attachment

Dual selectorized weight stacks also allow for bilateral training without compromising cable length, like with a single weight stack.

Bilateral training on a single weight stack cable machine can compromise cable length due to the limitations inherent in the design and mechanics of using only one stack of weights. Here's why: 

  • Limited Cable Reach and Length: Single weight stack machines usually have one or two cables that originate from the same stack. When performing bilateral exercises (involving both sides of the body simultaneously), both cables (if two are available) need to be pulled toward each side of the body. Because both cables are anchored to the same point, their effective length and the distance they can be extended are limited. This can restrict the range of motion and the types of exercises that can be performed effectively. Essentially, a single weight stack halves the usable cable length when performing bilateral movements.
  • Centered Anchor Point: The anchor point of the cables on a single stack machine is typically centered directly above or in front of the weight stack. When doing exercises that require pulling the cables apart (like a chest fly or a bilateral shoulder press), the central anchoring can lead to cables not extending equally or symmetrically. This can make exercises feel awkward or imbalanced, affecting form and the effectiveness of the workout. 
  • Reduced Exercise Variety: The physical limitation of cable length on a single stack machine means that exercises requiring wide or far-reaching movements are less feasible. This restricts the variety of bilateral movements that can be performed effectively without compromising form or function. 
  • Risk of Uneven Load Distribution: When performing bilateral exercises on a single weight stack, there is a potential for uneven load distribution if the cables are not pulled with equal force. This could lead to one side of the body working harder than the other, which could exacerbate muscle imbalances rather than correct them. 

In contrast, a dual weight stack machine, with each stack independently handling a side of the body, allows for more freedom of movement, greater range, and balanced cable length on each side, making bilateral exercises more effective and comfortable to perform. 

Increased Stability, Balance, and Coordination

Since each limb operates independently, using a dual stack can help improve your balance and core stability, as your body must stabilize against the asymmetrical load. 

The ability to use the stacks independently requires more coordination and balance, particularly if you are using the cables from different angles or in an alternating pattern. This can lead to improved overall body coordination.

Enhanced Safety 

With each side loaded independently, the risk of one side bearing more load than it can handle is reduced, making exercises safer and reducing the likelihood of injury. 

Space Efficiency 

Although a dual stack machine might occupy a similar footprint to a single stack machine, it effectively doubles the functionality within the same space – especially when we're talking about an on-rack cable machine like the Ares™ 2.0 attachment. This makes it a more versatile piece of equipment, particularly in settings where space is limited but the demand for a wide range of exercises is high. 

Bottom line 

Overall, dual weight stacks on a cable machine provide a highly flexible and efficient way to train, making them a valuable component of any strength training regimen. Overall, dual weight stack cable machines provide enhanced functionality and training options compared with their single stack counterparts, making them a more flexible and effective solution for both individual and multi-user environments. 

What is the Best On-Rack Functional Trainer? 

The Ares 2.0 cable attachment

The Ares™ 2.0 attachment features dual 260lb selectorized weight stacks that can be upgraded to 310lbs each (feels like 155lbs each).  

Like the original Ares™ attachment, the Ares™ 2.0 attachment affixes onto your existing PR-4000 or PR-5000 power rack. This integration transforms your space by adding versatility with cable exercises without sacrificing the functionality of the rack.  

Learn more about the Ares™ 2.0 attachment here. Also, check out our blogs: