Selectorized vs. Plate-Loaded Strength Equipment: Pros and Cons

A selectorized cable machine

To plate or not to plate. When selecting a cable machine, that is the question.  

Functional trainers and cable machine attachments come in a variety of different styles – from stand-alone to rack-attached, with a 1:1 or 2:1 ratio (or both), and more. Many also come as a plate-loaded or selectorized version.  

There are benefits to both plate-loaded and selectorized gym equipment.  

Here’s a closer look at the difference between plate-loaded and selectorized equipment – and the pros and cons of each to help you pick the best option for your home or commercial gym.  

What is Plate-Loaded vs. Selectorized Gym Equipment?  

On plate-loaded equipment, you change the weight (resistance) by adding and subtracting weight plates, similar to how you load a barbell. (Shown here: Plate-loaded with integrated band pegs for added resistance with bands.) 

Plate-loaded gym equipment

On selectorized equipment, you change the weight using a pin and weight stack, rather than adding plates. The weight stack is built on; it’s part of the equipment. 

Selectorized gym equipment

What are the Pros and Cons of Plate-Loaded vs. Selectorized Gym Equipment?  

Here's a look at some of the advantages and disadvantage of selectorized machines and plate-loaded equipment. 

Selectorized vs plate-loaded gym equipment


Is Plate-Loaded Better Than Selectorized Equipment?

So, which is better? Is plate-loaded equipment better than selectorized equipment? 

It depends on your goals, what other equipment you have, and how you want to use the equipment. 

Generally speaking, commercial gyms may prefer selectorized equipment, due to its ease of use for lifters of all levels and how quickly lifters can get done with their set (to free up the equipment for other lifters). 

If you're building a home gym and already have a plate set and are on a budget, you may prefer a plate-loaded machine. For many products, can always get a conversion kit in the future, if you change your mind or after you save more money. 

Best Selectorized Strength Machines

Selectorized weight stack

Sold on selectorized? Here's a look at some of the more premium selectorized gym equipment. 

Selectorized Lat Pulldown and Low Row

Selectorized lat low row

Build out your power rack with the Selectorized Lat Pulldown and Low Row. This pulley system is compatible with the PR-4000PR-5000Omni, and Apollo racks and brings the functionality of cable movements to your set-up. Great for building your back, this attachment can also be used for curls, belt squats, tricep work, and so much more.

The system features a 200lbs weight stack with 1:1 ratio, meaning 10lbs feels like 10lbs. The weight stack also features band pegs to add additional resistance and the  weight stack can be upgraded to 300lbs . Quickly move between 10lbs weight increments with the magnetic pin. 

There is also a 1000 Series selectorized option. 

Athena™ Selectorized Side-Mount Functional Trainer

Selectorized Athena

The Athena™ Selectorized Side-Mount Functional Trainer is a low-profile cable attachment that integrates into the side of your PR-4000 or PR-5000 series power rack. Get the functionality of a functional trainer machine so you can build your upper body and get in accessory and isolation work, without needing space for a stand-alone unit.  In addition, it provides a lower price point (and smaller footprint) than the Ares™ Attachment, which includes a lat pulldown and low row.

The Athena™ features a 2:1 pulley ratio, which means 20lbs feels like 10lbs. Each stack weighs 170lbs per side (feels like 85lbs) with the option to upgrade each stack to 220lbs (feels like 110lbs). It features hot-rolled steel plates with a 3% tolerance and a magnetic pin for quick and easy weight changes.

There is also a wall-mounted version

Arcadia Functional Trainer

Arcadia functional trainer

The Arcadia™ Functional Trainer is REP's first functional trainer designed by our Colorado engineering team from the ground up. REP has seamlessly integrated distinct, high-end features to this compact functional trainer, such as the unique trolleys seen on our popular Ares and Athena attachments; 10lb increment weight stacks; and in-house-designed, knurled handles. This full, versatile trainer features 32 cable positions with dual weight stacks that top out at 170lbs each, for a total of 340lbs  at a 2:1 ratio (moving 100lbs feels like 50lbs). Upgrade the stacks to 220lbs each, for a total of 440lbs at a 2:1 ratio.

FT-5000 2.0 Functional Trainer

FT-5000 2.0

The FT-5000 2.0 Functional Trainer brings commercial-grade, cable strength training to your home gym. This full, versatile trainer features 21 cable positions with dual weight stacks that top out at 224lbs each, for a total of 448lbs at a 2:1 ratio (moving 100lbs feels like 50lbs). The handles can go higher and lower than the original FT-5000 design to maximize your range of motion. The trolley is slimmer and lighter than ever before -- with no rollers, reduced material, pre-lubricated uprights, and a repositioned handle -- allowing for quick and easy adjustments. 

Ares™ 

Selectorized Ares

The Ares™ Cable Attachment is a fully integrated, functional trainer and lat pulldown/low row attachment that affixes to your existing PR-4000 or PR-5000 power rack. This saves major space, by bringing a ton more versatility and cable exercises inside the rack, while preserving nearly all the original functionality. The Ares™ features dual weight stacks of 260lbs each (with an option to  upgrade to 310lbs per stack) that you can use for unilateral exercises. Or connect both stacks together for bilateral movements that demand heavier weight, like lat pull-downs. 

 

Best Plate-Loaded Strength Gym Equipment

If plate-loaded equipment is the best fit for your home or commercial gym, here are some of the best options out there.

Plate-Loaded Lat Pulldown and Low Row

Plate-loaded lat pulldown

Build out your power rack with the Lat and Low Row Attachment. This pulley system attaches to a PR-4000, PR-5000, Omni, or Apollo half rack to add cable exercises, including lat pull-down variations and seated rows. The system features a 1:1 ratio, which means a 10-pound weight will produce 10 pounds of actual resistance. The attachment comes with a lat bar and straight bar, as well as a foot plate to brace against during low rows.  

There is also a plate-loaded lat pulldown option for 1000 Series power racks.

Athena Plate-Loaded Side-Mount Functional Trainer

Plate-loaded Athena

The Athena™ Plate-Loaded Side-Mount Functional Trainer is a low-profile cable attachment that integrates into the side of your PR-4000 or PR-5000 series power rack. Get the functionality of a functional trainer machine so you can build your upper body and get in accessory and isolation work, without needing space for a stand-alone unit.  In addition, it provides a lower price point (and smaller footprint) than the Ares™ Attachment, which includes a lat pulldown and low row.

The Athena™ features a 2:1 pulley ratio, which means 20lbs feels like 10lbs. The weight horns have a loadable length of 10.6” each and a max weight capacity of 540lbs (feels like 270lbs). The Athena™ gives you the freedom to customize your rack’s functionality by choosing either a left, right, or dual-sided setup. The patent-pending Athena™ features a trolley that allows you to do cable work at any height on the upright and is lined with a special plastic to protect them. 

Need More Help Choosing a Functional Trainer?

Not sure which cable machine is the best match for you? Check out this blog for how they all compare: How Do I Choose a Cable Machine?