I'm a big believer in keeping my training fresh by continually mixing exercises up. Doing the barbell bench press in a power rack gets old after a while, so I do dumbbell incline bench presses, or ring push-ups or perfect push-ups, or dips, or a combination of all of these.
To add even more variety to my training I wanted to add machines to my gym, but since space is extremely limited, I only have room for one machine and this machine had to be capable of many different exercises.
The Powertec Workbench Leverage Gym WB-LS was the gym I chose. I chose this machine because I wanted to lift REAL WEIGHT, not weight stacks like most machines have and most lifters quickly out grow.
It took me almost six months of searching on craigslist for a deal on the WB-LS, and I had to drive 2 1/2 hours one way to get it! It was still a deal even with the $ spent on gas.
I wanted to write a Powertec Workbench Leverage Gym WB-LS review but since I bought a used one and only had to partially disassemble it to get it into my SUV, I searched the internet for a review from someone who assembled one from scratch.
Yankeemarko1, a poster on Bodybuilding.com wrote this excellent review.
I bought mine at Dicks Sporting Goods. I had been looking at this machine and its larger cousin, the WB-MS for some time. I knew Dick's would be opening a couple new stores in my area, so I waited, and got a grand opening price of $599. However, they seem to always sell it for $699. They always seem to be less expensive than the Powertec website.
I recommend trying it out to see if you fit the machine. I am not tall, 5'7", so I have no problems. But, I could see it being a problem if you are well over 6'.
Don't forget this is plate loaded so you will need to pick up some Olympic plates if you don't already have them. This machine only uses Olympic plates with the 2" holes.
The salespeople at Dick's were clueless and have no idea what these machines are capable of. Do your own research.
I, too, tried to buy one at Dicks. They only had the floor model which was missing parts. The leg extension attachment was welded incorrectly with one set of pads vertical and the other horizontal, (an obvious manufacturer defect). I pointed this out to a sale associate, who just shrugged his shoulders. Dick's sales staff is clueless. Save yourself some aggravation and buy this online
The machine comes in 3 boxes, each one a little larger than the other. You could easily fit all 3 boxes in a compact pickup or a hatchback type car. They are only about 8 inches tall and lay flat.
The quality of the packaging is excellent. The cardboard for the boxes is very heavy. In fact, I don't think I have ever purchased anything with a heavier box for packing. There were no rips or tears at all in the boxes. Even the corners were fine because Powertec has heavy cardboard inserts glued into all the corners so they don't collapse. Nice touch.
All the parts inside were wrapped in plastic and foam. They are laid out in a pattern so hardly anything is touching. Between the parts are big Styrofoam blocks to keep the box from caving in. Everything was in perfect condition and nothing was damaged or even scratched. It probably took over an hour to unpack all the parts.
Powertec gets an A+ for packaging.
Included are the machine itself, lat pull down bar, short bar for triceps/curl exercises, squat bar, D handle, short chain and the leg extension attachment.
First, all parts were included and nothing was missing. No missing nuts or bolts or anything. Very nice. All parts are labeled and easy to sort. A word of advice: unpack everything and lay it all out on the floor in an adjacent area. Then you can just pick out the parts you need when you need them.
Quite frankly, the assembly instructions for this machine are terrible. They really aren't instructions at all. It is an exploded schematic split over 6 pages. So, basically, it is just a picture showing what parts you need for that step with the numbered bolts next to the holes.
You really need to study each step and determine what needs to go on in what order. If you are good at assembly of things, you will have no problem. If you can't hammer a nail in straight, you will probably need some help.
No tools are included. You will need, at the least, a socket set. It is also handy to have some open/closed end wrenches and a rubber mallet. You will need the mallet to tap the big pin through that holds on the main lever. It is quite snug and you don't want to mess up the threads on either end.
I assembled this by myself and it took me about 3 hours. All the parts fit perfectly and all the holes and bolts lined up with no trouble. Very refreshing to not have to pull or push anything to make it fit.
Assembly is a B+ only because the instructions stink.
Most assembly instructions included with home gym equipment are really terrible. (not only Powertec's instructions, but Body Solids as well). To assemble my Body Solid Leg Press, I relied on photos I found on the internet. I have provided close up photos of the WB-LS below to help you with assembly.
When you are tapping the big threaded pin in that holds the lever arm, put a nut on the end you are hitting with the mallet so you don't damage the threads.
You will need a space at least 10 feet x 8 feet of floor space and a 7.5 foot high ceiling for this gym. For the lat weight holder to clear the wall while holding a 45 lb. plate you need at least 12 inches of clearence.
After fully assembling the machine, the 1st thing I noticed is how well this is built. The metal is very heavy. The powder coating is excellent. It would be very hard to chip.
The high and low pulley cables are vinyl coated and very quiet and smooth with no binding at all. All the weight sleeves are coated in PVC so when you load/unload plates it is quiet. The pads for the leg extension and leg hold down for the lat pull are covered with a nice vinyl pad made to look like leather. The caps for the pads are aluminum and do not pop off. I have not had one fall off in 6 months. The bench is firm, but not hard and wipes up easily when you clean.
Powertec gets an A for build quality.
The cable system is one of the smoothest operating systems I have ever used! The cable system is even better than the one on my Powertec power rack's lat tower and the Life Fitness and Hammar Strength machines at the commercial gym where I used to be a member.
All the exercises on this machine feel very natural. I don't ever feel like I need to fit the machine. It just seems to fit me fine. It is important to make sure you have the machine adjusted to you. You need to play around and try exercises with different lengths on the chain, the bench at different angles etc...
A chart was included that shows about 10 exercises you can do. I have no idea why this chart is so limited. You can literally do any exercise on this that you can do with a high or low pulley machine. I went to the BB.com exercise page and tried many different cable exercises listed. All but a couple felt fine. In my opinion, Powertec is doing themselves a disservice by not including a comprehensive list of possible exercises.
Following are exercises I have done on this machine:
Flat Bench Press; Incline Bench Press; Decline Bench Press; Seated Cable Rows; Lat Pulldowns; Straight Arm Pulldowns; One Arm Seated Cable Rows; Bent Over Barbell Rows; Shrugs; Leg Extensions; Lying Leg Curls; Squats; Donkey Calf Raises; Shoulder Press; Cable Curls; Triceps Pressdown; Cable Rope Overhead Triceps Extension; Kneeling Cable Crunch; Seated Cable Crunch; and Weighted Decline Crunches.
I have only scratched the surface of what exercises you can do.
Powertec gets an A+ for availability of exercises.
One way to train on a leverage gym is by lifting the weight with two arms, and then lowering the load slowly with one arm. This is one form of high intensity training that focuses on the eccentric (lowering) part of the movement. You can lower much more weight than you can lift. This is the type of training that Arthur Jones invented the Nautilus machines for.
I have contacted Powertec twice and both times they have been excellent. I wanted to know what effect the leveraging had on the weight. Per Powertec, you deduct 10% of the total weight and add 15lbs for the press lever.
For example: 100lbs - 10lbs (10%) + 15lbs (lever) = 105lbs.
The weight you can lift on a leverage machine vs. the weight you can lift with free weights is a hotly debated topic. What I have found is if I add 20 lbs. to the weight I can lift using a barbell, this is the amount I put on the lever. For example, if I can free weight bench press 170 lbs., I can leverage bench press 190lbs.
Then 2nd time I contacted them was for a warranty issue. The adjustment tube for the bench has a plastic sleeve inside it. The little pin that holds it in place broke so the sleeve would slide out and up the tube. It is not a big deal and does not affect the use of the bench but I contacted them on a Monday by email. Within a week, I had a new part on my doorstep.
Powertec gets an A+ for service so far.
IMPROVEMENTS?/THINGS I WOULD CHANGE
This machine is well built and it is obvious a lot of thought was put into its design. But, there are a couple things I would change if I could.
1. The metal plate where you stand for squats or cable curls is a little small. It would be nice if it were about 6-8" larger all the way around.
2. The only chain included is about 1' long. I went to Home Depot and picked up 4' of the same size chain to use for cable crunches.
3. I also picked up a V bar for low rows. Why is this not included if the D handle is? I also picked up a triceps rope.
4. My biggest complaint would be that you have to start your squat motion from the low position. The squat motion itself is perfect and I have no complaints with it. It just would be nice if you could unrack the weight up high and then move the pin to the failure position. You could do it with a partner, but not alone.
When storing plates on the legs, the plates are in the way of loading the cable lift assembly, a really bad design! Also, my bench has a slight wobble, no big deal, but I expected a more solid bench….maybe because mine is used?
Capacities: You can load up to 500 lbs on the lever arm; 350 lbs on the lat pull down; 250 lbs on the leg lift; but the squat bar is only rated for 300 lbs.
Make a pair of homemade thick bar handles for the workbench.
Check out my homemade powertec leverage arm block. Position the leverage arm so you can start your lift from the top.
This is a well built machine that delivers as advertised. It offers a multitude of exercises with the feel of a barbell in a very small footprint.
The quality is excellent and so far the customer service has been great.
I can't imagine why anyone would walk into Dick's Sporting Goods and pay $2500 for a Bowflex when this is sitting right there for $699. Even if you picked up new Olympic weights, new adjustable dumbbells and a few odds and ends, you still would be less than half the cost of a Bowflex.
I always ask myself, Would I buy this again? The answer is yes.
I highly recommend this machine.
This leverage gym allows you to lift heavier loads more safely than lifting on a power rack. I can push some serious weight and feel safe doing it. But, because you are using a lever which helps stabilize the load, you are not hitting all of your little stabilizing muscles. By combining this leverage gym with dumbbell exercises you can get a complete workout.
My conclusion is the same….
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