Strength training machine - Tonal

Hi all, I am trying to add strength training to my training. I am considering purchasing a Tonal machine but am curious if others have had experience with this. I have not had a good option for leg strength/squats, it looks like you can do front squats on this machine (up to 200 lbs of digital weight).

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I don’t have one myself, and I’m weak enough that joining DialedHealth and doing bodyweight and kettlebell workouts is enough of a challenge for me, so I’ve avoided the high entry and subscription prices, but I do have several friends who have purchased a Tonal and they love them. Every single person. They tell me it’s great because it automatically adjusts weight depending on your personal progress. Having said that, they’re all masters athletes without lifting backgrounds. If you’re younger or have extensive experience doing Olympic type lifts, I can’t speak to that.

If you can afford it, it can be a great investment especially if you don’t have too much extra “workout space”. If you have the space available for an at home gym, for the price of tonal you could build a solid set up that compares to any big box gym out there. You can also check out Men's PRO Home Gym Package - PRx Performance as a space saver.


Seems cool if you’re short on space, e.g. SF/NYC studio apt, but it’s more or less useless without a subscription.


I have one and will happily answer questions.

You can do front squats, though they feel different bc there can be a slight force forward or backward depending on where you stand.

Pros: small form factor, sufficiently good at doing the job
Cons: expensive (be sure to add on the cost of the accessory package + one year subscription), I find some of the coaches really annoying, though I did like the triathlon training sequence

I got it bc even with the delivery lag when I ordered it, it was going to be quicker and easier to get than trying to find iron in the middle of a pandemic. I’ll be canceling the subscription in December when I can. Yes, I’ll lose the nice special weight modes, but they aren’t worth the money to me. I’m completely comfortable creating my own programming.

What about this setup limits you to front squats only?

For what it’s worth you can do single legged deadlifts, pistol squads and lunges with small and relatively cheap dumbbells at home

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Short answer: nothing. Any of the squat variations will have the slight issue of the cables pulling slightly forward or backward if you are not 100% straight during the entire movement.

Longer answer: legalese. Tonal does not include a back squat in the default movements. Word on the street is that their lawyers don’t like it. I think because the default movement would put you “trapped” between the machine, the arms and the barbell. If you’re worried about that you can always just do the movement facing away from the machine. A similar legal issue is that it doesn’t come with ankle straps, though you can buy your own, the t-locks, and carabiners and do it.

You can certainly do back squats, but you will either have to 1) choose the front squat movement and therefore have messed up data if you alternate between front and back squats or 2) choose “barbell movement” which won’t record any data.

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For those of you with Tonal, I’m curious about the recommended floor space. Do you find the 7 ft x 7 ft truly necessary? Or is that more of a CYA from Tonal? Thanks!

I’m pretty new to Tonal after getting one in mid-December but I would say that yes you need all that space - although you won’t need the space out vertical from the machine for very many moves. There’s only one live I’ve done so far that uses the full vertical space in the couple of programs I’ve done so far. The side to side space is used more as it’s really only a few feet out from each side of the machine and there are quite a few unilateral moves that have you standing off to one side. Hope this helps.

Thanks @JennF. Definitely helps and fits with what I would have guessed. If we get one, it’ll just mean moving a work desk before and after. Not that big of a deal.

Thanks again!

out of interest - what kettlebell exercises are you doing?

I was doing the Dialed Health Kettlebell program. I’ve let my subscription lapse as I ramp up my cycling and am only doing yoga and stretching now. I’ll definitely do the DH program again in my next offseason though.