I started on my health and fitness journey about 10 years ago, and in the beginning the only strength training I did was with a home gym that I bought from one of my brother’s friends. It was a pretty old thing – black frame with 150 lbs of black cast iron weights – that sat in the middle of my workout room, taking up almost all of the space.
Those cable weights worked really well, but after a while I started looking for something a bit different to add to my workouts. A friend suggested I start doing bodyweight exercises. They quickly became (and still are) a crucial part of my strength training. To cut a long story short, I replaced that old home gym with a power tower, and since then my home workout space has never been without one. Power towers are extremely versatile pieces of equipment, and if you can find a good one that suits your needs, it can be worth its weight in gold.
In this review, we’re having a detailed look at the Xmark XM-4432 VKR Power Tower, which we rated as one of our 5 best power towers for the money. This power tower is basically the slightly bigger, older brother of Xmark’s XM-4434 Power Tower, which we reviewed here. The two power towers are pretty similar, and share a number of advantages and disadvantages, which we’ll discuss further, so keep reading.
As in all of our power tower reviews, we’ll look closely at:
- The range of exercises you can do on it
- How well it’s designed and the quality of the materials used
- How easy it is to assemble
- How easy it is to actually do bodyweight exercises on
- What kind of value for money it offers
We know that detailed reviews aren’t for everyone, so if you want the short version, here it is:
Alright, now for the detailed review.
Xmark XM-4432 VKR Power Tower Review
Simply stated, the XM-4432 power tower is a very good piece of equipment for your home workout space if you’re going to be using it often. It’s really sturdy, and built from good quality materials. $100 – $250 is where the beginner / intermediate level power towers tend to be priced, and this is one of the best in that range. If you don’t think you’ll be using your power tower particularly often, then you might want to go for something a bit smaller, lighter and cheaper, like the Body Vision PT600.
As with all beginner / intermediate level power towers, the XM-4432 is suitable for people who want to do ‘regular’ bodyweight exercises. Very serious users looking to do hardcore crossfit workouts, or advanced bodyweight moves like muscle-ups are going to be disappointed if they purchase this power tower – its simply not suitable for those uses.
With a footprint of approximately 48 inches wide (4 ft; 121 cm), 55 inches deep (4’7 ft; 139 cm) and 86 inches tall (7’2 ft; 218 cm), it has the same dimensions as it’s little brother, the XM-4434, and you’re going to need a space roughly 8 x 10 ft in which to assemble and use it comfortably. That said, the XM-4432 is a fair bit heavier, weighing in at approximately 98 lbs (44 kgs) when fully assembled.
Xmark XM-4432 VKR Power Tower
|Range of exercises|
|Design and quality|
|Ease of assembly|
|Ease of use|
|Value for money|
Range of exercises
Here’s the deal: Pretty much all power towers with a vertical knee raise (VKR) station offer a good range of exercises, and the XM-4432 is no different. A key difference, however, is that the XM-4432 includes a sit-up station which has two padded foam rollers and will give you an extra option for working your abdominals. All-in-all, if you go with this power tower, you’ll have everything you need for a high-quality upper body and core workout. Here are the main exercises you can do, including the muscles you’ll be working:
Pull-ups / chin-ups
Use the pull up bar to do pull ups (with your palms facing away from you, also known as an ‘overhand’ or ‘pronated’ grip) or chin ups (palms facing towards you, also known as an ‘underhand’ or ‘supinated’ grip). Both exercises will mainly work your latissimus dorsi (lats) and biceps and to a lesser extent your trapezius, posterior deltoids, abdominals, and pectorals (pecs). By varying the width of your grip between wide and narrow, you can change the extent to which each muscle is worked (e.g., wide grip pull ups work the biceps less intensely than narrow grip pull ups). You can also use the pull-up bar to do hanging leg raises for an intense abdominal workout. In our experience, you’ll need to face away from the power tower, and weigh down the base if you’re going to do hanging leg raises from the pull up bar.
Performing dips with the dip bars will work your pecs, anterior deltoids and triceps.
Vertical leg / knee raises (VKR station)
Use the VKR station to do back-assisted vertical leg and knee raises, which will mainly work your lower abdominal muscles. Knee raises are performed by bringing the knees toward the chest and are less challenging than leg raises, which are performed by bringing your straightened legs upwards. There are platforms to help you into the leg raise station, and these can also be used to do calf-raises. Also, if you’re strong enough to support your own bodyweight, you can use the dip bars to do unassisted vertical leg or knee raises, which will give you a more intense abdominal workout (these are similar to hanging leg raises).
Sit on the ground and slip your feet below the two foam rollers at the base of the power tower to do sit-ups. Sit ups tend to be easier than leg raises, and mainly work the middle and upper abs.
The handles below the dip bars allow you to do platform push ups. With platform push ups, you can lower your chest below the level of your hands, which works your pecs, deltoids, and triceps more intensely than regular push ups performed on the floor.
Design and quality
As it turns out, all of Xmark’s power towers tend to be well-designed and sturdy, including the XM-4432 VKR Power Tower. Although it’s not a perfect piece of equipment and has some flaws, it’s still one of the best power towers in its price range.
Being one of the heaviest beginner / intermediate power towers, we’re certain that you’ll find the XM-4432 to be strong and stable. You’ll be able to give it heavy usage over a long period of time without worrying about it bending, breaking or wearing out. On the other hand, this power tower is no different to other similar power towers in that it will wobble (mostly back and forth) if you don’t use controlled form in your pull ups and dips, or if you try to do explosive variations of these exercises. This is especially true if you weigh more than about 220 lbs (100 kgs). It’s almost unavoidable in this kind of equipment, which is made for home use. The thing is; power towers have to be light enough for you to get into your house and assemble, but that means there’s a trade-off in stability.
Getting some wobble in the power tower when using it isn’t such a bad thing because it’ll let you know that your form is a bit off. If you can do your pull ups and dips without feeling any movement, you’ll know you’ve got your technique just right.
What’s the bottom line? Well, although the XM-4432 is extremely unlikely to tip over (unless you do really explosive movements on it, or swing on it), if you’re concerned about it being unstable, you can try one or both of these two things:
- Place some lightweight home gym flooring beneath the power tower. This will both improve the stability during use, and protect your floors from damage.
- If you’re still getting a lot of movement while you’re using it, a couple of sandbags or weight plates (if you have them) placed over the base should sort the problem out.
And even if you do get a bit of wobble, it has a load capacity of 350 lbs (158 kgs) so it’s not going to break or bend.
In terms of quality, the XM-4432 Power Tower is made from mostly good quality materials. The 14-gauge steel frame is heavy and very strong; possibly the strongest you’ll find amongst comparable power towers. The padded back and arm rests are double stitched and vinyl covered, and they make the leg raise station very comfortable to use. However, the foam grips on the various handles don’t quite live up to the same standards as the padded components. Although they work just fine and won’t give you much cause for concern, they aren’t particularly comfortable. The grips on the pull up and dip bars can also get a bit slippery once you start sweating, and may need to be replaced with some athletic tape.
Overall, the XM-4432 has a strong design, and is made from mostly high-quality materials. Therefore, it’s better than many of the other power towers in its price range.
Ease of assembly
Assembling the XM-4432 is more complicated than the XM-4434. Putting it together is a 7-step process, and the manual includes written instructions as well as exploded diagrams (see image right). All of the parts are nicely packaged and labelled, which certainly makes things easier. We recommend giving yourself 1.5 – 2 hours to assemble it completely. The box it comes in is over 100 lbs, so it’s probably a good idea to get someone to help you move it to the area in which you want to set it up. Also, because it’s big, you’ll definitely want to assemble this power tower in the spot that you’re going to use it. It will be very difficult to get into and out of doorways or up and down stairs otherwise. Below are some tips to help you get it together as easily as possible:
- Although you should be able to get it together on your own, it’ll be much quicker and easier if you have someone helping you.
- If you have a socket set, this will come in handy – in particular a 14mm and 17mm socket. An adjustable wrench is also a must.
- Wait until you have the power tower fully assembled before tightening all of the bolts. This applies to almost all fitness equipment that requires assembly, and will help to ensure that your power tower sits level.
Ease of use
Realistically, the XM-4432 VKR Power Tower is not much different to comparable power towers in how it functions, and most people will find it very easy to use. That said, there are a couple of minor issues we want to mention straight up:
- The dip bars are thin (small diameter) and they can get a bit uncomfortable to use after a while. It’s something you’ll quickly get used to, but if it bothers you, you could try wearing some weightlifting gloves, or wrap a dish cloth or towel around the handles for some extra padding.
- The pull up bar is relatively close the center of the power tower. As such, you may find that you’ll occasionally hit your ankles on the sit up station, or knees on the VKR station backrest when you do your pull ups. You can minimize this by lifting your legs behind you (see image below).
As we’ve already discussed, the XM-4432 can get a bit of wobble in it during use, especially when doing dips. Due to the extra weight of this power tower, its likely that this will only be noticeable for people who are on the heavier side. For most people, it shouldn’t be a problem. That said, this power tower IS NOT suitable for doing advanced bodyweight movements like muscle-ups, and it’s certainly not suitable for doing kipping pull ups (i.e. the crossfit style pull ups). As long as you do controlled pull ups and dips, there’s little chance of this power tower tipping over. However, if you are concerned about its stability, place some weights or a couple of sandbags on the base. Alternatively, you may need to shell out some extra cash for a more heavy duty power tower, like this one.
Finally, the Xmark XM-4432 VKR Power Tower is tall; the pull up bar is approximately 7’2 ft off the ground. Therefore, you’re going to need to put this in a room with at least 8 ft ceilings to ensure you have enough clearance for your head while doing pull ups. This power tower is not adjustable.
Value for money
You’re likely to pay somewhere between $180 and $230 for the XM-4432, which makes it one of the most expensive beginner / intermediate level power towers. However, we think it’s well worth the money. It’s much higher quality than a number of other similar power towers, and should last you many years and give you many good workouts. For what you get, that kind of money is an excellent investment in your health and fitness. Go ahead and treat yourself – in the long run, you’ll be better off.
Overall, if you have sufficient room in your home workout space, the Xmark XM-4432 VKR Power Tower is a great option for bodyweight strength training. It’ll give you a really solid upper body and core workout. With power towers, you generally get what you pay for. So, while you’ll pay a bit more for this power tower, you’ll also get more out of it. It offers a great range of exercises, and includes a sit up station, which others don’t. It’s also well-designed and built from high quality materials. You shouldn’t have much problem getting it together, and aside from a couple of minor flaws, using it will be no problem at all. It’s certainly one of the best beginner / intermediate level power towers.
Thanks for reading the review. Leave any comments or thoughts 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)