Can the Vitruvian Trainer+ help you sculpt a stronger physique from home? Product reviewer Kieran Alger puts it to the test.

    The best home gym equipment offers neat solutions for getting your cardio fix at home, but no one has nailed full-body strength sessions without filling your house with bulky workout benches, plates and bars. That’s where the Vitruvian Trainer+ comes in. This smart, adaptive resistance weight trainer promises the complete strength experience, in a simple space-saving package.

    At first glance, the Trainer+ looks like an unassuming slab, but this platform uses up to 200kg of cable-based, algorithm-driven, adaptive resistance; a series of accessories; and a smart training app to recreate virtually any gym drill right in your living room. The question: can it really deliver the same workout and benefits as your regular gym gear? I spent a month using it to find out. 

    Men’s Fitness verdict

    An incredibly capable, versatile training tool that’s compact and convenient. But even at the basic level, without the accessories and the access-all-area membership, it’s still very, very expensive
    • Loads of guided workouts 
    • Extensive drills library
    • Easy custom workouts
    • Requires a lot of space
    • Pricier than a PT
    • Have to enjoy cable work

    How I tested the Vitruvian Trainer+

    I do my strength and weight training at the gym, using a combination of fixed machines, free weights, barbells and squat racks. I’m fairly experienced but not a big, heavy lifter. I do full-body workouts to support my main sport, which is running. For this test I replaced my gym time with Vitruvian Trainer+ workouts for a month. I had the full Pro Kit and premium app access. I tried out a range of the trainer-led classes and built custom workouts to best replicate my usual gym regime, all while training for a marathon. 

    Vitruvian Trainer+ with Pro Kit laid out on wooden floor
    Out the box: the Vitruvian Trainer+ with Pro Kit accessories

    Out-the-box impressions

    When I first unboxed it, the Vitruvian Trainer+ seemed pretty unassuming. The main space-saving platform looks a bit like an aerobic step on steroids – a 117 x 52 x 11.5cm black slab with a no-nonsense, extruded aluminium frame and a carbon fibre reinforced shell. At 38kg it’s quite heavy but looks built to last. It’s unlikely to win any style awards, but it’s also not an eyesore. 

    The only real feature on the platform is a strip of LED lights that show you when the Trainer+ is powered up and synced to the app via Bluetooth. There are easy-to-use quick release cable connectors at each end that make swapping the training accessories a doddle. A handle on one end and softish, rubberised wheels on the other also make it easier to slide the platform under a couch or bed (or wherever you can find space to stash it). 

    Beyond the platform, the basic Trainer+ package comes with Pro handles and ankle strap accessories to help you train. However, you’ll need to pay considerably more for the complete suite of accessories that opens up the full range of drills. There are two upgrade accessory packages available: 

    The Entry Kit comes with a long bar, rope attachment, premium handles, workout mat and a safety cable. The Pro Kit includes a long bar, short bar, pump handles, tech mat, belt, safety cables and rope. Plus, a bench that massively improves the range of lifts you can do. Frustratingly, you can’t buy individual accessories.  

    How much space do you need?

    The platform is relatively compact compared to a bench-and-bars home gym set up. It’s also great not having free weights strewn around your home waiting for a toe-stubbing. But I didn’t find the Vitruvian that easy to manoeuvre and, despite the rubberised wheels, I wouldn’t like to run it too often over softer wooden floors.  

    Because of the weight, you’re unlikely to be moving this from room to room, and certainly not up and down stairs on your own. So your stash space has to be where you’ll workout and close to a power source. You still need a fairly big footprint – and high ceilings – to be able to do all of the drills comfortably. Particularly if you plan on using the bench. 

    That was my major issue. I live in a decent-sized three bedroom house in London and found it hard to find a good location for working out and storing the Vitruvian, close to a power source. It ended up on its side behind my sofa, because it wouldn’t slide under. If you live in a spacious American condo this probably isn’t a problem, but if you’re in a one-bed flat in the UK, space could still be an issue.  

    Vitruvian Trainer+ cable attachment
    The handles of the cable attachments are ergonomic and non-slip

    Setting up the Vitruvian Trainer+

    Set-up is pleasingly seamless. You simply scan the QR code on the side of the Vitruvian and it pairs with the app. After you’ve created a quick profile, you’re off. It took me less than five minutes to get up and running and, once you’re linked, the Vitruvian auto-connects each time you fire it up and open the app. 

    App and features

    The Vitruvian V training partner app is where all the really smart stuff happens. It’s available on both iOS and Android, and you can download the V app on Google TV or Fire TV, or stream workouts via Apple TV for a bigger screen experience.

    The app is well designed, simple and intuitive. It offers more than 200 targeted exercises, complete with video tutorials to demonstrate technique. It’s quick and easy to combine drills into customised workouts, tailored to your fitness goals. But there are also 300 trainer-led, on-demand classes and four 24-week goal-oriented programmes. There’s plenty here to onboard beginners and challenge the more experienced. 

    You can monitor progress with a full training history, an at-a-glance muscle chart that shows what you’ve been working on, and all your PB weights for each drill. If you’re competitive you can score points for workouts that feed into a leaderboard. However, you’ll need a premium membership to unlock the best training tools, and that’s one of the big pitfalls here.

    Subscription and pricing

    In reality, to get the most out of the Trainer+ you’ll need to invest in one of the accessory kits and a premium membership. The monthly sub for all access is up there with a lot of gym memberships, and takes the overall price close to £3,500 ($4,415) for the first year. It’s wildly expensive. You could get a membership at a very nice gym with personal training for a similar spend. 

    Man in gym kit performing bicep curls on the Vitruvian Trainer+
    Pulling movements are made possible with the cable attachments that are secured at both ends of the platform

    Vitruvian Trainer+ workout experience

    Unlike some at-home strength training systems, you don’t have to compromise your training with the Vitruvian. You can perform a version of almost every move you’d do at the gym. However, the drills are different – some more subtly than others. Even if you’re used to strength training in the gym using cable machines, you’ll need to learn some new technique to unlock the gains. I found the learning curve a bit off-putting at first. I wasn’t sure I wanted to invest time re-learning technique. I’m not a weight lifting natural and it took me time to learn my way around the gym. This felt like doing that all over again. 

    Thankfully the introductory, coach-led virtual training sessions are excellent. They guide you through the core moves, including how to dial in your technique, hook in each of the accessories, along with the pace and rhythm of each drill. I found I had to do these a few times before I felt comfortable, but I picked up the drills much speedier than I first feared. 

    Before you start your workouts, there’s a strength assessment that guides you through some of the core moves and sets your weights based on current performance. You can retake this test whenever you want to recalibrate your baseline. 

    You can also choose between four different training modes: Time Under Tension, Pump, Eccentric Only and Old School. These change the way you engage with the resistance. For example, you might choose to add weight with each clean rep, decrease weight over time or keep the weight consistent throughout the set. 

    Before each set, you do three reps to find your range of motion and set the weight for the remainder of the set. Resistance is controlled by the app, which automatically adjusts in response to your best lifts and performance in a given rep. 

    If you’re wondering if the Vitruvain can deliver a workout, the answer from my tests is a big, DOMs-suffering yes. From biceps curls to deadlifts, I was able to replicate all the exercises I’d usually do, right up to the levels I’d usually do them. There was no danger of me maxing out the weight ranges, and I was impressed that you can even replicate a back squat with the right bar attachment. 

    In all honesty, I prefer regular gym drills to working out with the Vitruvian, but you can absolutely get the training effect you need from this clever machine. The price, however, will undoubtedly put a lot of people off.