The Fitness Reality 810XLT Super Max Power Cage changed my life. Seriously. But let me start at the beginning.
2017 and 2018 were not kind to me in the strength training department.
First of all, I’ve been having trouble with my hips and knees. The knee trouble is old. About fifteen years ago I had two surgeries on my left knee for a bucket handle meniscus tear, resulting in the removal of 75% of the cartilage in my knee. The hip problems largely stemmed from the knee problems. One night I was doing squats when my knee was hurting, and I compensated poorly (a HUGE mistake), and… hips injured.
My chiropractor was a huge help in getting over that, but then I settled in to phase two of the problem. 2018 was just a bad year for getting to the gym. I’d get in about two weeks of solid workouts, just be starting to get into the swing of things…
And then I’d get sick.
This pattern repeated all year, and even a bit into this year. As a result of not getting regular weight workouts, I’ve put on weight again (not the good kind) and I’d not been getting the work I need to truly get my knees and hips back on track.
So in the late spring, I decided to fix that. Part of the problem is schedule. A big part. I can’t get out to the gym during the day because of my day job. I can’t get out easily two nights a week because I’m at the dojo. The other nights of the week, and the weekends, I’m trying desperately to spend some time with my family in between getting work done for Silver Empire.
Also, my gym is 20 minutes away, and they close at 10PM. That’s a struggle for me, because late at night is when I do actually have time to workout.
To be fair, there are gyms closer to me that are open 24/7. But the local YMCA includes child care in their membership price. And so basically the only way my wife gets to workout is if we keep the Y membership. And I don’t have the spare funds to pay for two gym memberships.
However, I did have another solution in mind. A few years ago I sold off my weight bench and pull-up bar to clear out some space in the garage. At that point – before I started having issues – I’d switched to working out at the Y. We were paying for it anyway, for my wife. It was air conditioned. And it had better equipment. My weights themselves were fine, but the bench was cheap. In order to do squats with it, I’d had to put the entire bench up on cinder blocks (wonderfully redneck of me). And that solution only really barely let me get under the bar. For heavy lifts, it was still a little tough.
The pull-up rack was even worse. It was cheap to begin with and I’d gotten it second-hand off of Craigslist. Whenever I did a pull-up, it flexed. It is amazing how much harder that makes pull-ups – and not really in a good way that leads toward muscle growth.
So the Y was great until it wasn’t. And I’d sold the bench and bar. But what I’d kept was all my free weights – nearly 600lbs worth of bar and plates. They didn’t take up much space in the garage, and they can be expensive to replace (although I got half of those off of Craigslist, too, at a steal of a price).
And when I’d sold the bench and bar, I always knew that what I really wanted was to just replace it with a power cage. The footprint in the garage would be much smaller than a separate bench and pull-up bar. It would allow me plenty of space to do squats properly. And it wouldn’t flex when I did pull-ups on it.
The problem is, decent power cages are expensive. Or rather… they were expensive. I trolled Craigslist for a good while looking for a used one.
And then I found the Fitness Reality 810XLT on Amazon. Here was an actual sturdy looking power cage at a great price. Now, I’d seen other cages in that price range before. But they looked like they’d collapse if I put any decent weight on them, or at least shake. This one actually looked like it could hold the weight. And it had solid reviews.
And it was cheap.
I got the option for cage + bench for $345. The other comparable cages I could find were literally twice that price, and didn’t include a bench. I figured that was cheap enough that I could try it.
Oh, and even though the thing is 148lbs of heavy metal, it came with free Prime 2-day shipping. Yes, seriously.
I have absolutely not been disappointed. Due to having this thing around, June 2019 is the first month in nearly a year and a half that I didn’t miss a single planned weight workout on my schedule, and I feel so much better for it. It’s truly fair to say that this cage has changed my life and for the better. It may not be the absolute best $345 I’ve ever spent, but it’s awfully high on that list.
Granted, any bench could’ve fit that bill in my case. And I already had a bar and weights. But this one is solid, functional, and inexpensive.
Nice things to know:
- I’m 6′ even. To use the pull-up bar, I have to bend my knees. I don’t love that, but I had to do it on my old pull-up bar, too. I also have to do it on all the pull-up bars at the Y. What are you going to do?
- I have standard height ceilings in my garage (8 or 9 feet, I’m not sure). It fits just fine, even with the garage door open.
- There is a dip attachment available. I haven’t bought it yet, but plan to.
- Extra j-hooks are available, and they look like they’re actually a bit nicer than the ones that come with the cage. They’re absolutely not necessary – the ones that come with the cage are sufficient – but I plan to pick some up in the future to cut down on me having to rearrange things for different lifts. And, more importantly, to cut down on having to rearrange when I’m working out with my wife or son.
- The bench can be bought separately and is rated at 1000lbs. That’s a really good thing, because my old bench was rated at 500lbs… and I actually broke it while doing a 320lb bench press. Safety first, guys. Me plus the bar will never exceed 1000lbs, so I’m good.
- Finally, there’s also a lat-pull-down attachment available. At some point in the future I may pick that up, too. Right now I don’t really need it, and the price (another $229) is high enough that I’m not in a rush. There are options to buy it together with the bench, though, and it’s definitely cheaper that way.
- Some assembly is required, but it took me less than an hour. They supply all the parts and even all of the tools that you’ll need.
This is not a top-end cage of the kind you’d find at a powerlifting gym. Don’t let me confuse you on that at all. But for any serious home lifter that’s not really pushing the limits, it’s well more than you’ll ever need. I can bench in the low 300s, squat in the high 300s, and deadlift in the 400s, and I’m not even coming close to pushing this cage.
I highly recommend the Fitness Reality 810XLT Super Max Power Cage if you’re in the market for this kind of equipment for an inexpensive home gym. You’ll have to spend twice as much to even find another equivalent, and significantly more than that to find a better cage.
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