Some exercise machines can only perform a single activity. On the other end of the spectrum, you'll find multipurpose devices that offer numerous options. The Weider 8630 Universal Gym is on the multipurpose side of that line. The machine is manufactured by Weider Fitness, the company founded by fitness icon Joe Weider. You can perform dozens of resistance exercises on the 8630, which is suitable for homes or gyms.
From the Outside Looking In
The Weider 8630 is 78 inches high, 70 inches long on its longest side -- measured from one weight stack to the leg press plate -- and 64 inches wide across the other axis, which includes the pulley area. Key components on the longer axis include a padded seat and backrest, two arms for pressing exercises plus a pair of "butterfly" arms. The other station includes a padded seat near three cables -- high, medium and low -- and a leg lever.
Weights and Attachments
Each of the two stations contains a weight stack with nine plates. The top weight on each stack weighs 6.5 pounds, while the other eight weigh 12.5 pounds each, for a total of 106.5 pounds in each stack. The machine comes with a lat bar and a handle, either of which can be attached to the cables. You can secure the included ab strap to the medium- or ab-pulley cable.
Resistance Is Not Futile
The effective resistance of the Weider 8630's components varies, due to the configuration of the machine's cables, pulleys and weight guides. In other words, lifting the same amount of weight is easier while you're performing certain exercises. For example, lifting three weight plates -- 31.5 pounds -- with the leg lever requires 38 pounds of force. Lifting the same three plates with the leg press takes 180 pounds of force. Consult the weight resistance chart in your owner's manual for more details.
What You Can Do
You can work all your major muscle groups if you take full advantage of the Weider 8630's options. For example, perform leg or calf presses using the leg press plate. Grasp the pressing arms to perform chest presses or use the butterfly arms to do pec-deck-type flyes. Put your arms through the ab harness to do seated crunches. Use the lever to do leg extensions for your quads or curls for your hamstrings. Secure the lat bar to the high pulley to perform lat pulldowns for your back or triceps pushdowns. Place the handle on the low pulley to do biceps curls or front raises or on the medium pulley to do rows.
Ride the Circuit
A machine such as the Weider 8630 makes circuit training easier because you simply move the pin in the weight stack to adjust the load quickly between exercises. Create a list of six to 10 exercises and write down the weight load you'll employ for each exercise. Do an aerobic warm-up for at least five minutes first and then perform each exercise in your circuit. Other than the brief time it takes to change the weight load, don't rest between activities. Circuit training keeps your heart rate high to burn extra calories.