What Is The MaxPro Fitness?
The MaxPro Fitness is a unique new cable fitness machine that has been designed to provide a full body workout, anywhere! It boasts adjustable resistance from 5 to 300 pounds – changed by dials on either end of the machine. Weighing in at 10 pounds, it truly is a take-anywhere gym. It features smart connectivity and on board sensors promises to track all the details of every workout. Is it 2021s must buy? Sadly not, as we’ll discover in this review of the MaxPro Fitness.
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A Quick Lesson on Eccentric and Concentric Movement
Don’t panic, I’m going to be a concise as possible, but understanding what these terms mean will be fundamental in the context of this review.
Concentric movements are when the muscles are shortened (squeezed) and tension in them increase. Think of a bicep curl: the concentric phase of the bicep curl is when the barbell is lifted from the bottom of the movement up to the shoulder. At the top of the movement the bicep is contracted and the muscle is under tension.
Eccentric movements are when the muscles are lengthened. So in the example of the bicep curl, when you slowly lower the barbell back down to the starting position and the biceps are fully lengthened.
Here are 4 quick facts about concentric and eccentric movements:
- The eccentric phase of a movement causes more muscle damage than the concentric phase.
- Concentric movements lead to increases in power and speed
- The eccentric phase of a movement strengthens muscles more than the concentric phase of the movement
- Eccentric training is more effective at stimulating growth in the muscle fibers than if only the concentric phase of a movement is trained.
What Does This Have To Do With The MaxPro Fitness?
I was amazed to discover that this small machine claims to offer up to 300 pounds of resistance. For most people that will be more than enough for every exercise you can perform on the MaxPro. But my initial excitement faded when I saw that the machine only offers resistance on the concentric phase of movements.
To put it another way, the cables only offer resistance as the cables are lengthened away from the base unit and there is no resistance as they return to their starting position.
The manufacturer does a great job of extolling the benefits of concentric-only training, with a whole section of their website dedicated to the benefits of concentric training.
They need to do this too, because as far as I’m concerned the science is settled: as a regular person looking to build muscle optimally, you should be training both the concentric and eccentric phases of any resistance based movement.
I have no doubt that their claims are all fully evidenced by their own studies, but I can’t help feeling that they are presenting a wholly one-sided version of the truth.
As an example, they make the claim that concentric training “grows muscle fiber diameter versus length”.
Now this is true, but it ignores the obvious question: why wouldn’t you want to grow both muscle fiber diameter and length?!
What’s Good About The MaxPro Fitness?
There’s a lot to say here. I appreciate I started this review somewhat negatively, but I wanted to get the main weakness of the machine out of the way first.
Firstly and most obviously, the MaxPro is amazingly compact. Weighing just 10 pounds and coming complete with a neat travel backpack. Perfect then, if you travel a lot for work or want to take your gym with you on holiday – or even to the office!!
The design and finish of the MaxPro is truly impressive. The designers claim to have been influenced by sports cars and hoverboards and to be fair, I absolutely get this. It’s a really pleasing design and it appears to be well constructed too, with aluminum and other metals.
The cords on the pully are nylon and the manufacturer claims that they are fifteen times stronger than steel, so there shouldn’t be any problems there.
As for the ‘power clutch’ system that generates the resistance, I’d love to know how this works in more detail and why it doesn’t offer any eccentric resistance.
On its own the MaxPro doesn’t take up any space so its perfect for home workouts, especially if you don’t have that much free space.
It comes with 2 workout handles, 2 wrist straps, 1 long bar (for shoulder presses etc), 2 Door Brackets & Door Mount and 1 USB charger. So you get everything you need to get working out.
But there’s also a great range of accessories to maximize the versatility of cable training. These consist of a foldable bench and a wall track system.
The wall track system, particularly, transforms an already versatile piece of equipment into something that is bordering on revolutionary. This allows the MaxPro to be fixed to the wall and slid up and down along the track so that you can pull/push from whatever height suits the exercise you’re doing.
For instance, you may want to do a standing row with the MaxPro fixed at the lowest position, or you may want to do overhead tricep extensions with the MaxPro fixed at the highest position.
The pulley system is generally smooth with only a few owners reporting problems. Some report that initial ‘lumpiness’ resolves itself after about a month of use.
What’s Bad About The MaxPro Fitness?
It doesn’t offer any benefit from eccentric phase training!! I know – I already made that point, but for me its a deal breaker!
The movement is not comparable to the experience of training using a cable machine in a gym. Some users report a degree of inconsistency in terms of the resistance throughout a movement. It appears that this can be overcome by pushing / pulling at high speed, but this isn’t necessarily ideal.
The way the resistance levels are selected frustrate some users as there is no ‘click’ to suggest you’rem locked into a particular level of resistance.
There’s no data on the reliability of the powerclutch, the system is too new to make any reasonable judgments. However, as I point out in my review of the best selectable dumbbells, complicated mechanical systems have a higher probability of failing over time.
The resistance selection dials are numbered, but users report becoming frustrated by the absence of any locking mechanism resulting in a degree of trial and error involved in ensuring that both sides are equally weighted.
The price! At the time of writing its $849 for the basic MaxPro SmartConnect package. That’s a lot of money and if you clicked on the link above, you’ll see that you can buy what I consider to be the best adjustable dumbbells for less than this.
The price! No, that’s not a typo. If you want to get the full benefit of this system, your most definitely going to need to invest in the Wall Track system and that’s another $299. You’re probably going to also want the MaxPro folding bench at a cost of $199 (no, you can’t use your existing bench because it will risk crushing the MaxPro.
When you consider all of this, it’s fair to say that this is an exorbitantly expensive piece of fitness equipment.
What Else Could I Buy For The Money
As I mentioned above, some adjustable dumbbells will take up a similar amount of space to the MaxPro, require no home adjustments (as in the installation of a wall track).
Adjustable dumbbells are arguably even more versatile than the MaxPro and you’re able to benefit from concentric and eccentric phases of every movement. Not to mention isometrics too!
But if adjustable dumbbells are still too expensive, then I would suggest you seriously consider a set of resistance bands. A very good set will cost a tenth of the cost of the MaxPro and you get essentially the same versatility. But again, you get more benefit from the eccentric phase of movements than you would with the MaxPro.
What Would Change My Mind?
I genuinely admire MaxPro Fitness LLC (paid link) for designing and releasing such an innovative home fitness machine. I’d go as far as to say that I believe this machine could be giving us a glimpse of the future of exercise. But for me to even consider investing the kind of money on this kind of device it would need to have some eccentric resistance.
While the designers of the MaxPro Fitness claim inspiration from the hoverboard, I can’t help feeling that, like the hoverboard, a fully-featured yet compact cable based home-training system is still some way off.
If you’ve read this far, thank you. Please feel free to share your opinion on the MaxPro Fitness or if you’re an owner, let me know how you are getting on with it.