The Weider Ultimate Body Works is a compact home gym system that combines calisthenics with cable pulleys and resistance cords to create a challenging workout at home, without the need for piles of weight plates.
In this review we take a look at the design features that have made this one of the bestselling home gym systems on Amazon, and make some important comparisons to see just how well it measures up to the Total Gym collection.
If you’re looking for a way to include resistance exercises in your current health and fitness routine, the Weider Ultimate provides you with many of the same exercises as conventional cable machines, but at a fraction of the weight and cost.
The unique design makes it difficult to class this piece of equipment as either a bench or a multi gym, but because it has the adjustable incline, back support, and dimensions of a bench, that’s what we’re going to refer to it as throughout our review.
Although there’s nothing to stop you from using the bench with dumbbells, there are two other ways resistance can be generated without you needing to buy a separate free weights set.
The first is your bodyweight. With a wide range of incline settings, adjusting the angle of the rail has a direct influence on the difficulty of each exercise.
With the sliding rail fully extended, your bodyweight will naturally make the cushioned support section more challenging to move. Having the cable attachments at the top of the bench means you can use this for exercises from cable flys to seated rows.
Should your strength reach a level whereby your bodyweight isn’t creating enough resistance to make the exercise challenging, then up to 4 bands can be connected to the base, increasing the resistance on the back support / seat by a maximum of 50 lbs.
Weider Ultimate Body Works – Features Summary
- Adjustable incline bench on wheels with a pulley on each side
- Steeper inclines increase the amount of weight resistance
- Cable & Pulley System allow for greater versatility and greater range of motion
- Sturdy and durable frame design
- Targets all major muscle groups
- Quick and simple assembly
- 4 x Resistance Bands: Provides the option to increase weight resistance up to 50-pounds
- Space Saver Design: Conveniently folds for easy storage
Weider vs. Total Gym
Although there are numerous companies currently offering decline bench and resistance band combinations, we came across very few that used bodyweight in the same way as the Weider Ultimate, which is surprising given its popularity and high ratings.
If you’re interested in taking a look at some similar designs, we discovered that Total Gym actually has a complete product line dedicated to these weights bench / home gym combination trainers. However, even their entry level 1800 Club model is twice the price of the Weider design.
When we were making our comparisons, we also noticed that the 1800 Club only offered bodyweight resistance, with no resistance bands or cords included. There was also a lack of foot plate for the leg press and no real handlebar option, but the 400 lb weight capacity certainly impressed us.
The Weider Ultimate Body Works includes cords for additional resistance,
which is something the Total Gym models do not provide
Moving up the collection to the Total Gym 1900, and we’re still only seeing the variation in incline settings, without the option to increase the resistance beyond your bodyweight. The highest and lowest angles are virtually identical, but the 1900 model does offer 4 more levels compared to the Weider Ultimate.
That being said, we’re not noticing a great deal of difference between the models from Weider and Total Gym, with the main difference being the weight capacity (250 lbs for Weider, 400 lbs for Total Gym).
If we move along to the Total Gym XLS, we’re now approaching their top-of-the-line model, which is apparent by the price tag (usually around $800 on Amazon).
We’ve also discovered a few more differences between Total Gym and the Weider model, with increased padding in the XLS, the 400 lb weight capacity, leg pull accessory, and numerous attachment options provided. The cable pulley system has also been upgraded.
The top model in Total Gym’s collection is the XLS Plus, which includes further upgrades to the comfort system, with all the benefits of the standard XLS design. It’s not unusual to see the XLS Plus with a $2000+ list price, but it’s usually available for closer to $900.
One of the great benefits of Calisthenics style workouts is that you can create all the resistance you need by using your bodyweight and varying the exercise or rep tempo.
The goal of the Ultimate Body Works is to take your bodyweight and use it for a wider variety of exercises than the traditional pull ups, crunches, and dips.
Not only is your exercise selection more varied, but you can also move through your workout a lot quicker than if you’re having to change the plates on free weights or wait for a piece of equipment to become available at the gym during peak hours.
By simply adjusting your body position or the attachment clipped onto the pulley, you can create a completely different exercise to the one you were just performing in a matter of seconds. This in itself will help increase the intensity of your workouts by reducing rest time, giving you the option to add an extra exercise to your workouts.
The versatility of the cable pulleys and incline levels provides support for a
wide variety of upper and lower body exercises
Having the pulley system positioned where it is also maximises your range of motion in exercises such as cable flys and tricep pushdowns.
In terms of the muscle groups you can train with this piece of equipment, because of the leg press pad and additional resistance options, there really are no limits.
You can put together an effective back workout consisting of pullovers, rows, and rear flys, or choose to train arms with a series of curls, extensions, and presses. Your abs and obliques will remain engaged for most exercises, but specific exercises are also available for these muscle groups, such as leg lifts and crunches.
Ease of assembly / Maintenance required
As a company under the banner of ICON Health and Fitness (together with NordicTrack, ProForm, Gold’s Gym, and Weslo among others), it’s incredibly easy to order replacement parts if needed.
This is reassuring considering the standard warranty offered is only 90 days. So if anything happens to go wrong after those first 3 months, there’s a section of the ICON website where you can order a replacement for just about every part that went into the construction of the Weider Ultimate Body Works.
It’s certainly worth taking a look at the prices for parts before considering taking out one of the extended warranty plan options, which we go into more detail about in the next section.
One of the main benefits of the Weider Ultimate is the ease with which it’s assembled, and the lightweight yet stable frame design.
The majority of the bench arrives pre-assembled, which includes the back support, rail, adjustment leg, and base frame. The only parts that you really need to attach are the base stabilizer, foot plate at the base of the frame, and handlebar at the top of the frame.
Even taking into account connecting the cable attachments and inserting any bungee cords you might need, the entire process shouldn’t take much more than 15 minutes.
In terms of storage, although this isn’t a bench that folds completely flat, you can quickly remove the handlebar and foot plate if needed and slide the bottom frame into the top frame to reduce its footprint.
What’s covered by the warranty?
- 90-Day parts and labor warranty (requires registration on the Weider website to activate)
If you would like to extend the 90-Day warranty to something a little more comprehensive, ICON currently offer what they call ‘Preventative Maintenance Service Plans’, with a 3-year plan costing around $199, and a 5-year plan for $289.
While we can imagine this being quite useful for higher priced equipment, even the price of the 3-year plan is more than the price Amazon lists the Weider Ultimate for when it’s on sale.
So in our case we’re much more interested in one of ICON’s ‘Standard Service Plans’, which has a much lower starting price bracket, and coverage for 1, 2, or 3 years.
When you consider this covers unlimited in-home repairs and parts, $30 for a 1-year or $60 for a 3-year plan sounds much more attractive.
As one of the most reviewed weights benches on Amazon and ranked amongst the top 10 bestselling home gyms, one final area that we wanted to look at in our own review is the experiences of others.
While we try to include as much useful information in our own review as possible, one person’s experience will rarely be the same as everyone else’s.
Therefore in an effort to maintain balance, we read through many of the 300+ reviews that we found online to determine the pros and cons that we being mentioned by multiple customers. We then grouped these responses and organised them into the lists below.
Following on from our earlier comparisons, at the time of writing this review, the 1900 model was the only home gym system in the Total Gym collection to have a higher combined percentage of 4 and 5 star reviews.
- The 4 resistance bands are useful for creating more challenging workouts
- The type of exercise is more varied than most conventional multi gyms
- The price is considerably lower than similar models, such as the Bowflex PR1000 and 3000, and the Total Gym range
- Versatility of the cable movement is ideal for stretching muscle groups before and after a workout
- Base frame is extremely stable
- Variety of incline settings caters for different personal strength and fitness levels
- Core and obliques are engaged much more than performing the same exercises standing
- Quick and easy to assemble
- Requires more space than a traditional weights bench
- If you’re storing it away between workouts, the lengthening and shortening of the frame can be quite cumbersome for a single person
- Some customers found the gliding mechanism to be noisier than they were expecting
- Lack of exercise guide with some orders, despite its ability to support over 100 exercises (See our review on the Bowflex Revolution for an example of a high quality exercise guide). However, this was an issue for a relatively small number of people, and the Weider Ultimate should provide you with a poster showing possible exercises.