This. Thing. Is. A. Beast. Here we’re reviewing the Body-Solid StrengthTech EXM2500s Home Gym (which we’ll just call the EXM2500s from now), and boy, what a machine it is! If you’re in the market for a very good quality home gym, and have $1000 – $1300 to spend, then read on. The EXM2500s is one of the best home gyms you’ll come across. It’s suitable for beginners through to intermediate users and offers a good range of strength and muscle building exercises.
Let’s get into the review!
Body-Solid StrengthTech EXM2500s Home Gym Review
Once set-up, this is a very impressive looking machine. One thing you should know though, is that it has a big footprint, and will require at least a 10×8 foot space in which to use it comfortably. It measures 83 inches high (6’11 in; 211 cm) x 51 inches wide (4’3 in; 129.5 cm) x 83 inches long (6’11 in; 211 cm).
Body-Solid StrengthTech EXM2500s Home Gym
|Range of exercises|
|Design and quality|
|Ease of use|
|Ease of assembly|
|Value for money|
Range of exercises
The EXM2500s comes with an exercise poster showing 20 exercises you can do with the machine. However, it’s always the case with this type of home gym that a bit of imagination and creativity goes along way to finding a whole lot more useful exercises to do. In any case, it allows you to perform all of the main strength training exercises most people seek to do on a home gym:
For Your chest
One side of the EXM2500s has a bench press station, where you can do both horizontal and vertical grip bench presses. On the other side of the machine there is a ‘pec dec’ station where you can do pec flyes. All of these exercises target your pectoral muscles (pecs) and will help you build a strong chest.
For Your Back
Use the lat pulldown bar to do, you guessed it, lat pulldowns, and use the lower pulley to do upright rows, bent-over rows, and seated rows. These exercises will primarily work your latissimus dorsi (lats) as well as your trapezius (traps) and rhomboideus (rhomboids) muscles. You can also do shrugs with the lower pulley to give your traps an intense workout.
For Your Abs
With the handle attached to the mid pulley, and sitting in the pec dec station, you can do resisted crunches, and resisted oblique crunches. With the handle attached to the lower pulley, you can also do trunk rotations. Together, these exercises will give you an intense abdominal workout.
For Your Arms
The EXM2500s allows for an impressive range of arm exercises. For example, for your triceps you can do standing or sitting tricep extensions, and for your biceps, standing bicep curls. Front shoulder raises using the lower pulley and rear deltoid flyes in the pec dec station will also give your deltoids a nice workout.
For Your Legs
As with many home gyms, the range of leg exercises you can do on the EXM2500s is relatively limited. The leg developer allows you to do leg extensions for your quadriceps (quads) and standing hamstring curls for your hamstrings.
So, those are the primary exercises you can do with the EXM2500s, but as we said, you’ll almost certainly be able to come up with a heap of extra ones. Body-Solid also have a Universal Home Gym Accessory Pack, which has a number of attachments that will further increase the number of exercises you can do.
Design and quality
While the EXM2500s has a fairly standard two-station design, it’s in the quality of the materials that this machine really excels.
The structure is incredibly solid, boasting 4 side welds and 11 gauge steel beams. The pulleys are the standard nylon type, however the cables are extremely high quality. They have a protective nylon coating that helps increase the life of both the cable and the pulleys they run over. You can get a good sense of the quality of the cables and pulleys when you feel how smooth and quiet this home gym is while in use, even with heavy loads. Also, the cushioning of the seats and backrests, and the vinyl coverings, is very comfortable, even as you start to sweat. There’s no stated weight capacity, so the EXM2500s should be able to easily accommodate people of all sizes – another indicator of the sturdiness of this machine.
The 210 lb (95.25 kg) cast iron weight stack is standard. They are good quality plates that have stickers to mark the amount being lifted, unlike some other machines. The pin that holds them in place is also the usual type, and we don’t think you’ll have any issues here. Some people may be worried that 210 lb won’t be enough weight for exercises like leg extensions and bench presses. However, the cables for both of these stations run through multiple pulleys, which significantly increases the resistance. The full 210 lb stack through the bench press or leg extension feels more like about 300 – 350 lb of free weights, so nothing to worry about there.
What you’ll find with this machine is that over the long run, compared to other home gyms, it requires very little upkeep. If you set it up properly, and treat it with care, it’ll last as for as long as you have it and feel basically like new the whole time. But, even if you do find that some parts break down over time, the EXM2500s has a lifetime warranty on all of its parts, which makes it even more unique. To make sure you’re unlikely to ever have to use the lifetime warranty, we have a couple of set-up and upkeep tips:
- When you’re running the cables through the pulleys, make sure they’re not twisted at all. Even slightly twisted cables increase the friction on the pulleys, and wear out much faster. This is particularly important for the cable running through the high pulley (attaching to the lat pulldown bar), which will wear quickly if you don’t ensure it’s straight.
- Lubricate the cables with some lubricant spray (e.g., WD40 or CRC) or bike chain lubricant like this one. This will improve the performance of the machine, and reduce the wear and tear on the cables and pulleys.
- Also lubricate the two silver poles that guide the weight stack as it moves up and down. This will prevent the weights from getting caught on the poles mid-exercise. Use some lubricant spray for this.
- This machine weighs in at a whopping 400 lb, so unless your workout space is carpeted, do your floors a favor and use some kind of protective heavy-duty gym flooring beneath it.
All in all, the EXM2500s is a well designed and very high quality home gym.
Ease of use
As we touched on above, the EXM2500s is a very smooth and quiet machine. Once assembled, it’s a real pleasure to use. All of the bars, and padded handles are good quality and slip resistant, as are the foam rollers in the leg developer.
Very tall people may find that they have to adjust their body position a bit in order to get resistance through the full range of motion when using the lat pull down bar. Other than that, we think you’ll find that this machine is very easy to use, and will give you a great strength training workout.
Ease of assembly
Now, the assembly is almost certainly going to be where you have the most problems with the EXM2500s. The assembly instructions can only be described as primitive. There are no written instructions, only exploded pictures, which is a real pain in the butt considering how complex this machine is. With some patience and careful attention, even people who are not mechanically inclined will be able to work out how to put this machine together, but it is going to take you some time. We suggest giving yourself up to 8 hours to put the EXM2500s together.
We’ve got some tips below that we sincerely hope will help you get it together with minimal problems (though you might still have some):
- There are a huge number of bolts, nuts, washers, etc. in the packaging, which are assigned a letter-number combination (‘A1’ through to ‘D36’). Before you start, we highly recommend you gather these up and separate them into piles, putting like-with-like (i.e., put all the A1 bolts in a marked pile and so on). This will save you a lot of hassle.
- You will need, at the very least, a couple of adjustable wrenches and a small mallet or hammer (preferably a mallet). However, if you have a good ratchet or wrench set, then get this out because it will come in handy. Specifically, get out these sizes: 3/4, 1/2, 9/16, 11/16, 13/16, 12, and 14. All the hex wrenches you need come in the packaging.
- Most importantly, DO NOT tighten up the pulleys until you have passed the cables though them. You will need to open some of the pulleys up to be able to get the cables through, so don’t tighten them until the very end. This will save you a huge amount of time and backtracking.
- Beg or bribe a friend or family member to help you assemble the EXM2500s if you can, as two people will make the assembly process quicker and easy. It is possible for one person to assemble though, so don’t stress if you can’t find someone to help you.
Finally, the machine comes disassembled in approximately 7 boxes. It is highly unlikely that the delivery driver will carry the boxes into your workout space – you’ll have to do it. None of the boxes are too heavy for a single person though, so this is time consuming rather than physically difficult.
So, while the EXM2500s is not an easy thing to get together, we think that it will be worth the time and effort, as it is a very good machine.
Value for money
Even though the EXM2500s is a little pricey, we think it still presents good value for money. That’s because of the very high quality of this machine. It works really well and it’ll last forever. Plus it has a lifetime warranty, so if some parts do need replacing, you can get them free, and have it back as good as new even when it’s very old.
If you have the money to spend on a home gym, you really can’t go past the EXM2500s. It’s a great buy.
Overall, if you’re a beginner to intermediate level user, this machine will be an excellent centrepiece for your home workout space. It offers a range of exercises comparable to most home gyms, has a great design, and is built like a tank. It also has a lifetime warranty, so unless you get into serious bodybuilding you won’t ever need to replace it.
Yes, it is a bit of a pain to assemble, but realistically you’ll spend a day on something that will benefit you for years to come. It’s one of the best home gyms on the market, and well worth the money you’ll spend.
Thanks for checking out the review. Leave any questions or comments you have in the comments section below.
All the best with your home workouts. Remember: When it comes to our health and fitness, we can make the effort or we can make excuses, but we can’t make both!
THFF (The Home Fit Freak)