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TuffStuff CXT 200 review: Discover why mainstream fitness companies don't want YOU to know about this patented home gym

By James Jackson
Last Updated on 1st October 2020

Welcome to my TuffStuff CXT 200 review. Since you're here, you're probably curious as to what this Smith machine home gym can do for you. Is it a top-of-the-line functional trainer that brings commercial-quality workouts to your home? Or is it just overhyped garbage from America with a hefty price tag?

I decided to find out. After being thoroughly disappointed with the flimsy, mass-produced cable machines and their lack of smooth resistance (which made my workouts feel like pulling teeth), I decided to go up-market and test the CXT-200, to see if it's worth the money.

Here's what you should know.

strength training cable machine with weights
Pros
  • Replaces 5 workout stations: Smith machine, lat pulldown, cable row, functional trainer and pull up bar
  • Comes with 7 accessories for greater training variety
  • Cables provide 68kg of resistance per side and 90kg with the upgrade.
  • Dual adjustable pulleys have 15 positions to work your muscles from different angles
  • Compact frame is sturdy and doesn't wobble
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Offered at rock-bottom UK pricing during October 2020
Cons
  • Smith machine and weight stack upgrades cost extra
  • Doesn't come with weights or a bench

TuffStuff CXT-200 facts and figures

At a glance, the TuffStuff Evolution CXT-200 looks just like your ordinary functional trainer (albeit, a fair bit more compact). However, as you'll quickly learn, the CXT-200 is far more versatile (and significantly more durable) than your average light commercial cable station.

In the same way that a futuristic household appliance would oversee all of our domestic needs, the CXT-200 takes care of all our fitness wants by replacing 5 common pieces of gym equipment. We get a 245kg-capacity Smith machine, a 15-position functional trainer, a back-building lat pulldown machine, a versatile low row station and a knurling-enhanced pull-up bar.

cable gym machine

Although the TuffStuff CXT 200 225 isn't the cheapest home gym setup, the fact that it's a one-time investment in your fitness makes the expense a lot more palatable. Not to mention, it's far more cost-effective and space-efficient than buying all of these workout stations individually. I for one would love to have my own fitness studio with a vast assortment of equipment. But I simply don't have the space (let alone the money) for such a facility.

The TuffStuff CXT-200 is the workout system that brings commercial-quality training to your home gym. With 7 unique attachments, it has everything that you need to get started, achieve results and never pay for fitness equipment again. Plus, as virtually the only functional trainer with a lifetime warranty on everything, you can give it a try, risk-free.

  • Dimensions: 168cm L x 200cm W x 213cm H
  • Unit weight (CXT-200 only): 335kg
  • Total weight: 418kg
  • Weight capacity: 245kg/540lb
  • Starting weight: 13.6kg/30lbs
  • Lockout Points: 15
  • Workout stations: Smith machine, lat pulldown, low row, pull-up bar, dual adjustable cable pulley system
  • Accessories: lat bar, straight bar, squat bar, ankle strap, nylon handles (2 pairs), chin up strap, cable bridge bracket
  • Warranty: lifetime
  • Price: Click for Lowest Price

TuffStuff CXT-200 workout stations

Smith machine

woman doing back squats

Like the silky snow that helps a veteran skier glide effortlessly down a mountain face, the TuffStuff CXT-225's self-aligning linear bearings provide smooth resistance so that you can enjoy friction-free workouts every time. Naturally, this fluid lifting motion leads to faster muscle growth because you can achieve a more potent pump and a stronger mind-muscle connection now that you have a home gym that's free from sticking points.

Similarly, the built-in 7-degree slant encourages you to use more natural movement patterns by aligning your joints in their biomechanically-optimal positions from the very first rep. What this 7-degree angle means to you is that you can recover faster and build mass quicker since more of the tension is placed onto your muscles—rather than being wasted on your fragile tendons and ligaments (which require a much longer recovery period than muscle tissue).

Although the CXT-225 is undeniably effective at producing results for the advanced lifter, TuffStuff's safety-first approach to strength training makes it equally useful for beginners or anyone else who usually trains alone, such as myself.

smith press attatchemnt

Nowhere is this clearer than with the Smith station, which has a manageable 13.6kg (30lb) starting weight, thus enabling novices to learn the proper form without overexerting themselves. Yet at the same time, the Smith bar supports a whopping 245kg (540lbs) so that the advanced lifter can test their strength in a safe environment.

Regardless of ability level, being able to train safely without a spotter—and without compromising on workout effectiveness—is a huge motivator for people like me (who often train alone) to invest in the TuffStuff CXT-225. You can re-rack the barbell onto any of the 16 steel lockout points with a small wrist turn. Yet even if the unthinkable happens, and you clumsily drop the barbell, then the fully-adjustable, heavy-duty safety catches will get you out of harm's way by taking the weight.

man doing upright rows

But with a generous amount of grip-enhancing knurling engraved onto the barbell, such mistakes are extremely unlikely. The knurling also helps you to generate more pressing power (and thus develop strength faster) by enabling you to maintain a firm grip on the bar. As any powerlifter will tell you, a firm grip is essential for a strong bench press because it engages your forearms and radiates tension down to your prime movers (chest, triceps, shoulders), which then results in more explosive power.

Yet even if you prefer callisthenics to powerlifting, you can still make use of the Smith bar for pull-ups, chin-ups and hanging leg raises, by raising it to the topmost lockout point. Conveniently, this simple adjustment then ables you to use the dual pulley to its fullest potential. More on that later.

Pulldown station

man in a vest doing lat pulldowns

The pulldown station consists of 2 fixed pulleys, which you can use either together or independently for a variety of constant tension exercises. For example, some of my favourite movements are tricep pushdowns, for increasing upper arm mass without hurting the elbows; lat pulldowns, for accentuating the v-taper and broadening the back; and cable crunches, for developing blockier abs and greater core strength.

With the help of the lat bar and nylon handles (which come packaged with the CXT-200 along with 5 other attachments), you can achieve complete back development because they allow you to emphasise different regions of your lats by using both a wide and close grip.

Similarly, the sturdy straight bar enables you to fill your sleeves by performing heavy tricep pushdowns—an excellent exercise for supersetting with bicep curls to increase your arm pump (and also to slash time off your workouts).

By default, the high pulleys (and all the other cable stations, for that matter) come with dual 68kg (150lb) weight stacks. However, by choosing the 90kg (200lb) upgrade option at the time of purchase, you can work out with 180kg of total resistance, which is quite remarkable for a functional trainer.

Low row station

sporty man doing low rows

As with its neighbouring pulldown station, the low row station has two fixed pulleys—each of which functions independently—and offers 138kg of total resistance. However, this figure rises sharply to a whopping 180kg if you invest in the upgrade, which is probably worth the expense considering that it costs less than a tenth of what the main unit does.

More than just a low row station, these pulleys provide countless muscle-building movements: lateral raises, to widen the shoulders and develop a more three-dimensional upper body; many curl variations, to increase pulling power and build bigger biceps; and, of course, cable rows, to add thickness to your back and improve your posture.

Dual adjustable pulleys

man training his pecs

I'm a big fan of using functional trainers for developing a balanced, well-rounded physique. Yet the starting resistance on many of these machines is far too high for isolation exercises. Seriously, how's a beginner supposed to do 10kg lateral raises? Heck, it took me years of dedication and constant ego checking to do proper lateral raises with that much weight!

It seems like TuffStuff read my mind, because each of their dual adjustable pulleys includes 2 cable hooks, meaning that you can train with half of the stack's specified weight. Or, to think of it another way, a quarter of the overall resistance.

man doing incline bench presses with cables

Naturally, these small 2.25kg increments are fantastic for gaining rapid strength because you can increase the resistance more frequently. It boggles my mind how people will double the cable weight so nonchalantly, yet they'd never even dream of engaging in the same stupidity with their bench press or squat.

I call these people strength fakers. Sure they increase the weight on the stack—by cutting their reps in half—but they don't actually gain strength because they didn't build the muscle mass necessary to lift the heavier weight for the same amount of reps. And how do you build that all-important muscle mass? With good old progressive overload—that's how.

And you don't need to have brains of Einsteinian qualities to realise that 2.25kg increments are more manageable than big 4.5kg jumps.

man doing alternating shoulder presses

Of course, these small increments don't prevent you from lifting heavy—far from it. In fact, by using all 4 hooks together, you can test yourself with up to 180kg of resistance. Try doing cable crossovers with that much weight!

Finally, with 15 adjustable positions, the dual pulleys provide virtually endless exercise possibilities, and the accompanying swivel handles permit an unrestricted range of motion, enabling you to achieve a deeper muscle stretch and a more intense peak contraction. This makes the CXT 200 Tuff Stuff machine especially attractive for those seeking complete physique development.

Pull up bar

male doing chin ups

While the bodybuilder inside me would've liked to see a neutral grip option, I won't deny that you can still achieve complete back development with the pull-up station—hard work permitting.

The steel pull up bar, which is welded to the frame for extra stability, has 4 knurling points; 2 wide and 2 medium, allowing you to work both your upper and low lats, and thus build an evenly developed back.

Similarly, you can use the pull-up bar to develop more aesthetic lower abs by performing hanging legs raises, which are a great core exercise if you have a sensitive lower back.

TuffStuff CXT-200 parts and frame

After being ripped off by my fair share of shady fitness companies in the past, I was sceptical as to whether or not the CXT-200 would be durable enough to withstand the intensity of my workouts. After all, I like to push myself to the limit, which sometimes results in slamming the weight stack, among other testosterone-fuelled behaviour.

strong man doing pull ups

However, after taking the CXT-200 for a spin, my fears were soon put to rest. I quickly realised that I wasn't dealing with the average functional trainer (which often look like they've been hacked together over a weekend in someone's garage). This was a commercial-grade workout system, and TuffStuff was willing to prove it with a lifetime warranty.

Even while lifting heavy, the frame felt incredibly stable thanks to the wide base, which distributes the load evenly across the ground. This enhanced stability filled me with the confidence to test my strength because I knew that the CXT-200 wouldn't wobble around during max-effort sets, which resulted in a few nice Smith machine PRs.

The frame itself is made from heavy-duty 11 gauge steel, which coincides well with the TuffStuff brand name because it's the most durable metal used in commercial gym equipment manufacturing. The same is true with their TuffStuff Proformance Plus Smith Machine.

athletic man doing a shoulder press

I also found out that the CXT-200 has a powder coat finish, which supposedly fights off wear and tear. Anyway, I did my research and discovered that this kind of electrostatically-applied coating can actually make our gym equipment much more damage-resistant because it enables the metal to withstand chipping, heavy impact, harmful chemicals and even extreme weather conditions. Oh, and it also keeps the platinum sparkle frame looking nice. But I don't really care about that as long as my equipment is sturdy.

As a keen bodybuilder, my favourite feature was definitely the swivel pulleys. I found out that all 6 of them contain steel pivot axels to increase the cable travel, enabling us to get a greater muscle stretch and a more potent peak contraction.

I have a feeling that these axels are also responsible for the smooth resistance. But then again, it could be the American-made cables, which have sealed ball bearings to reduce friction (as well as a hefty 1088kg tensile strength to stop the sheathing from shredding, which also prevents friction).

Either way, it was awesome to be able to work out without any annoying sticking points holding me back. I had a much stronger mind-muscle connection than usual, and I didn't even take pre-workout.

TuffStuff CXT-200 size and weight

Although TuffStuff makes some other excellent home gyms, such as the CSM-600 Smith Machine and the "fully loaded" TuffStuff CSM-725WS, these stations demand a generous amount of space. And for those of us without our own fitness studio—instead training in our living rooms, basements, garages and yes, even our garden sheds—they're simply too bulky.

But to my surprise, TuffStuff has bucked the trend with their functional trainer. Although significantly more compact than their other two home gyms, the CXT-200 is just as durable, and far more practical for those of us who train at home.

compact strength training machine

The angled weight prongs on the Smith bar (which TuffStuff has rightly patented) provide greater training variety in less space. You can mimic virtually every barbell exercise without needing a squat rack—or a spotter, for that matter.

Similarly, the rotating accessory rack enables you to reduce trip hazards by keeping your workout area tidy. There's space for all 7 of the attachments, and you can access them from the centre of the CXT-200, which makes performing supersets and high-intensity training yet more convenient.

Although more compact than 90% of functional trainers, the CXT-200 still has a relatively wide 200cm base. The increased stability, and thus, the extra confidence to train intensely, is the biggest benefit of this. However, the wide base also provides easy access for benches, stability balls and rehabilitation equipment, such as wheelchairs. This open design makes the CXT-200 not only versatile but easy to use regardless of how you like to work out.

TuffStuff CXT-200 safety features

While the jury's out on whether the Smith machine is better than free weights for building muscle, one thing's for sure. Smith machines are definitely safer, especially when you usually train alone like I do.

woman training her upper body while sat on an exercise ball

The CXT-225 machine tackles safety from two angles. First, it has 15 bar hooks so that you can get yourself out of trouble in the event of muscular failure by simply re-racking the bar with a small turn of the wrist. Naturally, this makes the CXT-225 ideal for training to failure (and hence, building muscle faster) because you know that safety is always just a wrist turn away [1].

Similarly, adjustable safety catches are great for 1RM attempts and powerlifting-style training. For example, if your ego gets the better of you and on a whim, you decide to attempt a weight that's way beyond your max, and for some reason, you can't even re-rack the bar, then it doesn't matter, because the safety catches will still have your back.

On the theory side of the lifting equation, TuffStuff helps to reduce our injury risk by including two conveniently-placed exercise placards that explain the proper form for a range of different exercises. The head-height positioning means that you can get an on-the-fly technique reminder without having to waste time sifting through papers and without needing to spend your life asking Google for help.

Likewise, TuffStuff includes detailed safety guidance in the owner's manual, which shows you how to lock the bar, how to tell if the hooks are engaged, how to use the safety stoppers and how to add weight safely, among other helpful tricks of the trade.

TuffStuff CXT-200 assembly

The instructions begin with a helpful maintenance guide and accompanying full-colour checklist that shows you, step-by-step, how to keep your CXT-200 looking like new.

The meat of the manual consists of 13 easy-to-follow assembly steps, the first 8 of which are purely diagram-based. Text is only introduced once the assembly becomes more complicated. Namely, when you have to install the weight stacks.

Since the diagrams are so clear-cut, you're unlikely to make mistakes, which saves you a lot of time and frustration. TuffStuff shows you precisely where to insert each and every small part. They also number each component on the diagrams themselves so that you can cross-reference them with the parts list at the back of the manual to make sure you're on the right track [3] [4].

man and a woman sitting in front of gym machine

Likewise, the textual instructions provide plenty of detail (such as when to fully tighten the bolts and when to leave them only loosely tightened) so that you're not left scratching your head over what to do next. However, the instructions aren't overwhelmed with detail to the point where you have to read each section three times just to comprehend their meaning.

While the assembly itself isn't overly technical, it's still a good idea to have two people so that you can avoid injury when dealing with the heavier pieces of steel. Here's what you'll need:

  •  9/16", 3/4", 1/2" combination spanners
  •  Adjustable spanner
  • Ratchet spanner with 9/16", 3/4", 1/2" sockets
  • External retaining ring pliers
  • Rubber hammer, measuring tape and utility knife
  • Lubricant and grease
  • Household glass cleaner

FAQ

Can beginners benefit from using the CXT-200 corner multi-functional trainer?

Yes, the Smith machine has a starting weight of just 13.6kg (30lbs), making it accessible to beginners. Likewise, the cable pulleys each have 2 hooks, which enables you to train with half of the specified resistance and increase the weight in smaller, more manageable increments [5] [6].

Will advanced lifters see results from training on the CXT-200?

Absolutely. The CXT-200 Smith station has a 245kg (540lb) weight rating, and the cables provide up to 180kg of combined resistance with the upgrade. This machine is built specifically for gaining strength and muscle. [7]

How smooth is the resistance?

Because the Smith machine has self-aligning linear bearings, there's no friction or sticking points. This naturally leads to a smoother, more consistent resistance, regardless of how heavy you might be lifting.

Is the CXT-200 fit for commercial use?

Yes, it has a lifetime in-home warranty but also comes with a generous light commercial (<30 people daily) guarantee.

Is the CXT-225 upgrade worth it?

smith press attatchemnt

If you only want to use the CXT-200 as a function trainer (i.e. for cable exercises) then you don't need the upgrade. However, if you'd like the convenience of being able to perform barbell exercises safely without a spotter, then the CXT-225 is definitely worth the money.

What weights are best for this multi-functional trainer?

100kg olympic weight set

I recommend the Body Power Tri-Grip Olympic Disc Kit.

They're available in 12 sizes ranging from 17.5kg to 165kg. I've had these plates for years, and besides the tri-grips making them really easy to carry, the quality of the discs is second to none. They're supposedly for home use, but I can't see a reason why couldn't use these discs in a heavily-trafficked commercial gym too.

What workout bench do you recommend?

weight bench with leg attachment

If you're particular about having the same brand in your home gym, then you can check out the TuffStuff CMB-375 Evolution Commercial Bench.

It comes with a lifetime warranty like the CXT-200 and has an even higher weight capacity (272kg). Having built-in wheels and handles also make it really easy to move, which is imperative considering that it tips the scales at 46kg.

Moreover, it's an excellent bench for building a proportional physique because it offers 7 different positions (as well as an independently adjusting seat) which enables you to hit your muscles from different angles and achieve more growth. However, it's twice as expensive as the equally good option that I'm going to show you.

Like the TuffStuff CMB-375, the Body-Solid Flat/Incline/Decline Bench comes with a lifetime warranty and a hefty 272kg weight capacity, which is reflective of its impressively stable base.

Yet with densely padded upholstery, it also feels incredibly comfortable and lends much-needed support to your lumbar spine, which makes a big difference when you're lifting heavy.

Best of all, however, it's compatible with Body Solid's preacher curl and leg developer attachments, which when combined with the versatility of the CXT-200, replace virtually every gym machine in existence. Admittedly, the TuffStuff bench offers this capability, too. However, it's twice the price, and I'm not convinced that it's twice as good.

What floor protection should I get for my new CXT-200?

body power heavy gym mat

I recommend the Body Power Heavy Duty Rubber Gym Mat if you want something that's durable but also relatively affordable.

You'll need two of these floor protectors for the CXT-200, but they're not the kind of mats that you'll need to replace a few years down the line. They weigh a whopping 42kg each and will stand up to borderline abusive conditions without tearing or stretching in the slightest.

You can also use this Interlocking Gym Flooring if you want more control over the amount of space that your floor protection takes up.

These particular tiles are lightweight and easy to install without any experience. But despite this, they're incredibly useful for reducing the noise and impact of lifting free weights, which admittedly, isn't much of an issue with the CXT-200 to begin with.

Should you invest in the TuffStuff CXT-200 now?

Considering that the TuffStuff CXT-200 offers more versatility than the vast majority of home gyms, while technically being just a functional trainer, it's a sound long-term investment if you enjoy having plenty of variety in your workout routine.

It replaces a Smith machine, lat pulldown machine, low row station, functional trainer and a pull-up bar. Yet it's much more cost-effective and space-efficient than buying these 5 machines individually.

Of course, the CXT-200 isn't exactly cheap, either. But since you'll never need to buy gym equipment again, the expense of this one-time fitness investment is rather minimal, all things considered.

I've tried many cable machines, and besides durability, the one thing they all lacked was smooth resistance, which made working out feel like pulling teeth. Yet TuffStuff has managed to integrate both of these qualities into their CXT-200. And hence, they're willing to provide home users like me with a lifetime warranty.

I hope that my TuffStuff CXT 200 review helped you to decide if this workout system is the right choice for your lifestyle and fitness goals. And hopefully, you can start getting the home workout gains that you desire.

Still available (highly limited stock)
TuffStuff CXT 200 Core Multifunctional Trainer with CXT-225 Smith Press Attachment
athletic man doing a shoulder press
  • Includes integrated cable crossover system (up to 90kg resistance)
  • Compact enough to fit in 95% of UK homes
  • Frictionless Smith bar has a huge 245kg loading capacity
  • Frame is extremely sturdy and doesn't wobble
  • Lifetime warranty on everything
  • Offered at the lowest UK price during October 2020

 

James Jackson
I'm a former academy rugby union player who specialises in strength and conditioning for competitive athletes. I split my time between coaching the next generation of British talent and creating hands-on gym equipment case studies at Smith Machine UK.
At Smith Machine UK, we create in-depth tests of the latest and greatest gym equipment on the British market so that you can create your dream home gym.
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