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FM Dual Cable Cross vs. TRX Suspension Trainer vs. Resistance Bands

Updated on December 13, 2011


The FM Dual Cable Cross, the TRX Suspension Trainer and a complete resistance bands system are three great fitness products with extreme differences in price. All allow the user to simulate movements in life and sports by allowing the body to move in endless ranges of motion, and each offers a wide range of resistance. So what are the advantages and disadvantages of each?

I’ll start with the FM EXT Dual Cable Cross, a finely tuned machine from FreeMotion. This is their ‘light commercial’ version designed for home use or private personal training studios. Using a pair of sturdy arms attached to a pillar enclosing a cable weight stack, the user can adjust the arms up and down, locking them in place for an exercise. The arms pivot about 180 degrees between them and they have enough range of motion to accommodate any user (cable and arm = 89 inches each) and probably any exercise (you’d have a hard time stumping this machine.)

The cables, which for the sake of clarity each have handles, travel on a fluid enclosed pulley system. Each cable pulls its own weight stack, going up to 210 pounds. For strength training and muscle building, a total of 420 pounds max resistance offers room to grow. Or so you would think. The specifications indicate the effective resistance at 70 pounds per arm.

In either case, the advantage of the Free Motion Dual Cable Cross is not that it replaces the bench press or similar strength exercises, but that it allows the user to move against resistance in so many planes of motion. As a cable machine, the weight stack lets you know exactly how much weight is being used. With the TRX and resistance cables, it is a bit of a guessing game. Sure, resistance bands come color coded according to the maximum poundage they approximate, but it takes a bit of adjusting to get just the right tension with resistance band exercises.

There are some exercises that the FM EXT lends itself well to, possibly better than either the trx or resistance bands. The squat is one of these. With the right bands, it is easy to do squats by stepping on them, but with the FM dual cable cross machine, you can squat a specific weight and not have to worry about the bands rubbing on either side of you.

Another is the woodchopper. This exercise can be done with a resistance band, but unless you have a high attachment point, you may be limited to the low/high version. Resistance bands have a major advantage over the dual cable cross, though. They are portable, and you can buy long bands for powerlifting with tension ratings to 275 pounds. In fact for about $100, you can pack an entire gym with light to heavy resistance in the bottom of a suitcase or duffel bag. The FX EXT? Unless you can find one used, it comes in just under $4,000, and well, you can't take it with you. It is a nice design and will look great in a studio or gym, but as a piece of home gym equipment, are there better values out there?.

For price and versatility, the trx suspension trainer gives the FM EXT serious competition. It has a unique design that, unlike the FM cable cross machine or resistance bands, allows you to move in any plane of motion using only your body weight. Sounds simple right? It is and it isn’t. It is a basic piece of equpment like every other suspension trainer on the market with some notable differences.

First of all they come in yellow and military (desert) beige, colors that are so far unique to TRX. Second, the construction is excellent. The straps feel and look heavy duty (they are rated to over 1000 lbs.) as is the stitching. When you examine the trx for the first time out of the package, it impresses. There is nothing light or half-ass about it. On the other hand it only weighs about two pounds and is even easier to transport than the resistance bands.

While certain exercises can not be done with the trx, such as the low to high woodchopper or a resisted squat, the extended number of exercises you can do with it more than makes up for the few you can’t. For instance, you can’t go heavy on a squat, but you can perfect you’re single leg squat (pistol) and increase leg power and hip drive with Sprinter’s Starts.

You won't be executing military presses either, but you’re shoulders and chest will be challenged by decline push-ups, and the infamous ‘TYW’ exercises. Also, it isn’t exactly a woodchopper, but you can do standing oblique twists or suspended planks with the reach under. One thing the TRX has a clear advantage on is core workouts. Nothing compares with having to stabilize the body in free space and direct its movement at the same time.

With the trx suspension trainer, resistance increases by changing the angle of an exercise-push-ups get harder as the feet go higher, body rows get harder as the body moves towards horizontal and so on. Price-wise, It comes in at the middle of our three products at $200-220. For this price it includes a door anchor and a full instructional workout video.

So which product is the best in class? I’m partial to cheap and portable, and the FM Dual Cable Cross machine seems a bit redundant. Other than looking cool, it is basically an expensive, well-made, gadget. For me, it does not offer enough advantage over resistance bands set-up and anchored to a wall or door, or a light trx which can go anywhere and offer a similar (and perhaps more challenging) workout.

The advantage it does offer is a stable, fixed point and ample weight to push against, but at those prices you can get a pretty nice set of dumbbells to do the same thing. Check out the videos for each product and judge for yourself.Or, Click here to check out the TRX suspension trainers >>>

TRX Reach Under Plank

FM Dual Cable Cross
FM Dual Cable Cross
TRX Force Suspension Trainer
TRX Force Suspension Trainer
Heavy resistance bands
Heavy resistance bands

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