This is a comprehensive review of the Body Solid Pro Clubline Lat & Mid Row Machine; an aggressively-priced, commercially-rated cable machine that allows one to perform both lat pulldowns and cable rows from the very same, surprisingly compact piece of equipment.
The SLM300G is exactly like the machines you used back in your global gym days. This is not a compromise machine with limitations or special needs; you can perform genuine, max effort, heavy lat pulldowns and rows, and all for a price the average garage gym owner can actually afford. At well under $2000 delivered this is by far the most accessible, commercial, dual-station lat tower on the market.
Body Solid SLM300G Review – Introduction
So you may be wondering why, on a site dedicated to garage gym equipment, would I take the time and spend the money to review an $1800 commercial lat machine. I’m supposed to be reviewing bars, power racks, and benches, right?
The answer is simple, because lat pulldowns and cable rows (and their variations) make up a small collection of back exercises that a large percentage of garage gym owners actually miss from their global gym days. People love these two movements, and they want access to them.
Case and point; most of us have tried the economical alternatives to a lat tower in an effort to get access to these movements (while avoiding the expense of owning a true tower.) I’m sure most folks who have had a garage gym for any length of time have tried the Spud Inc. Econo Pulley, or a DIY version of this system. You may have also tried getting creative with resistance bands, or maybe even purchased something like the Slinger for your power rack. Some of us have even owned plate-loaded rack attachments, or leverage machines like the Body Solid Leverage System or Powertec Workbench. These alternatives work; to varying degrees; but they always leave much to be desired.
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Well this is why I finally decided to give in and get a real, selectorized lat tower. I’ve tried all of the above ‘affordable alternatives’ before getting to this point. I’ve dealt with the swinging loading pins, working my way behind a plate-loaded unit to load and unload Olympic plates between sets, and I’ve spent my fair share of time fiddling with resistance bands. Man. do I have a lot of resistance bands now too.
So if my old problem sounds like your current problem and you have a little extra bit of floor space for a cable machine, keep on reading. If you’re content with your system or you don’t even care about lat pulls and rows anyway, please go read another one of my reviews, or at least go look at what t-shirts I’m selling in an effort to pay for all this equipment I review!
Body Solid SLM300G Review – Table of Contents
- Body Solid SLM300G Specifications and Dimensions
- Body Solid SLM300G Review
- Body Solid SLM300G Pros and Cons List
- Body Solid SLM300G Review Summary
- Product & Price Comparisons
Body Solid SLM300G Lat & Mid Row Machine Specs
Below you will find the specifications and dimensions of the Body Solid Pro ClubLine Lat & Mid-Row Machine (SLM300G/3). Most of this data can be found on the product description page, but I’ve also expanded on it somewhat.
Body Solid SLM300G – Dimensions
- overall dimensions: 62” L x 24” W x 85” H
- floor space requirement of 10.3 ft² (L x W ÷ 144)
- weight: 450-550 pounds depending on weight stack
- frame details:
- high tensile strength, 11-gauge, 2″ x 4″ steel
- massive, heavy-gauge backing plates at connection points
- combination of welded and bolted components
- bolt heads are all capped for safety and aesthetics
- frame is double powder-coated; prevents scratching, chipping and peeling
- cable & pulley system details:
- unit requires no cable changing to switch between high and mid pulls
- cables are nylon-coated, self-lubricating, aircraft-quality steel (3/16″)
- pulleys are large-diameter, reinforced fiberglass; very smooth with zero drag (4½”)
- guide rods are highly-polished, chrome-plated (solid) steel; again, very smooth
- weight plate details:
- the SLM300G is available with a 210-lb or 310-lb weight stack
- machine operates at a 1:1 weight ratio
- weight plates are 15-lbs each; minimum effective weight is a single 15-lb plate
- plates are machine drilled and employ oversize nylon bushings
- other features:
- the pads are tear-resistant, double-stitched DuraFirm with high-density foam
- knee pads are fully adjustable for different heights; (7 settings set 1″ apart)
- knee pads are generously sized; a full 6″ in diameter
- backside of unit has a protective shroud that conceals the weight plates
- unit ships with two attachments; a lat bar and row handle, both chrome-finished
- lifetime warranty applies to the entire machine (frame, cable, pulleys, pads, etc)
Body Solid SLM300G – Assembly
The Body Solid SLM300G obviously requires some assembly, but it’s not especially time consuming or complicated. I was able to assemble the entire machine in just a few hours with zero help. With help, this process would be even quicker.
While not as heavy as the previous cable machine I reviewed; the Rep Fitness FT-5000; I still recommend you choose your final location for the SLM300G before you start adding in the weight plates. This machine is not easy to move around alone when fully assembled.
Body Solid Pro Lat & Mid Row Review – Build Quality
The SLM300G is part of Body Solid’s Pro ClubLine. That is to say, it’s from their commercial line of products and is not one of their economical, light-duty, home products.
So what does that mean? It means that this is a real, solid piece of gym equipment that can handle the kind of weight and withstand the type of abuse necessary to be in a commercial gym. It’s made with heavy-duty, high-tensile strength 2″ x 4″ steel tubing; it has professional welds and large hardware, and all of the components are high-quality components, such as self-lubricating, nylon-coated cables, fiberglass reinforced pulleys, and super resilient pads. What this means is that it’s more than adequate to outlive you and your garage gym.
I know that sounds a bit like a sales pitch, but it’s really just my way of trying to say that this is a rock-solid machine. It does not shake, wobble, tilt, or any other word you can come up with to describe unnecessary movement in the frame. All that moves is the attachment and that weight stack; and very smoothly I might add.
Many of you know that Body Solid manufacturers products for every imaginable budget out there, including lower-end equipment; the type of stuff you’d find in a box-store. Again, their Pro Clubline products are their commercial products, and should not be confused with their home-gym line of products.
Body Solid Pro Lat & Mid Row – Cable & Pulleys
I want to talk about the cable, pulleys, and guide rods for a minute. These three things are important because they determine not only how well the system will function (how smooth), but also how it will age.
The cable is fairly standard for gym equipment. It’s a self-lubricating steel cable with a nylon coating. What does it mean to be self-lubricated when talking about a steel cable? It merely means that the cable was lubricated with a low viscosity lubricant during stranding as a way to extend the life of the cable by reducing friction between individual strands. The coating is there to prevent wear to those individual strands, and to lock that lubricant in.
The pulleys of the SLM300G are large-diameter (4½”), grooved-channel pulleys made of a fiberglass-reinforced, nylon composite. They’re basically just strong, lightweight pulleys that can handle the inertial forces of a high-tension system well. Light and strong is fantastic but what’s really important is that these aren’t small, 3″-diameter pulleys. Cable machines such as the Body Solid here do better with larger pulleys. They are smoother and more fluid, and damage to the cables can be delayed significantly when the cable isn’t being pulled through super tight (and constant) changes in direction.
Finally, the guide rods. These are solid steel, chrome finished, and highly polished. They’re completely parallel with no deviation, and even without grease the bushing-lined plates are able to glide smoothly up and down the rods. Yes, you can add grease to your guide rods if you’d like, though I haven’t felt any need to do so yet.
So what’s the take-away? Body Solid did exactly what they needed to do in terms of all the individual components of a cable machine that has 300-lbs attached to it. They didn’t try to use small diameter pulleys to save a few bucks, they didn’t grab at the cheapest cable that they could have, and they didn’t use some flimsy, hollow tubes as guide rods. This machine is smooth and fluid without having to lubricate it, adjust it, or tune it, and there is no reason that it shouldn’t continue to work forever.
Just as a kind of Public Service Announcement, let me remind you that cables are indeed a wearable component. On any piece of equipment with cables it is your responsibility to take time to inspect your cables regularly and replace as needed. You are not going to die if your cable snaps on a lat tower, but I’ll bet you’ll be going to the chiropractor.
Body Solid Pro Lat & Mid Row – Weight Stack
There’s not too much to say about the weight stack. I purchased the SLM300G/3; the model with a 300-lb weight stack (with the alternative being a 210-lb stack.)
210-lbs is a lot of weight; probably enough for most; but for just $100 you can eliminate any chance that it won’t be enough weight down the road. I see no reason not to go with the the upgrade at the time of purchase. If you decide to do it later you’ll be paying to ship 90-lbs of new plates (and you aren’t paying shipping when you initially buy the machine.)
Each plate is 15-lbs. They’re cast iron, painted black, and machine drilled for accuracy. The holes have a set of nylon bushings that help contribute to the smoothness of the system.
The plates are not pre-numbered for us. Once you have installed the plates, you go and put the provided stickers on yourself. The stickers seem to stick well – I’ve not had any problem with them coming off or anything like that. That said, I would’ve preferred if the stickers had a weight total rather than just being numbered 1-20, but what can you do; I can do a little bit of math.
Body Solid Pro Lat & Mid Row – Seat & Pads
The seat is great. It’s thick, dense, supportive, and comfortable. The overall size of the seat is adequate for both lat pulls and mid rows, and the vinyl cover is double-stitched and looks professional. Nothing about the seat feels cheap to me and I have no reason to suspect it’s going to fall apart. I’ve got nothing negative to say about the seat.
I absolutely love how big the knee pads on the SLM300G are. At 6″ in diameter they are as comfortable as they could possibly be. Nearly every machine or bench attachment I’ve ever had that had roller pads like these have been uncomfortable, small-diameter rollers. Seeing the large, dense, vinyl rollers on this machine for the first time was a thrill of sorts.
TIP: Because of my height and depending on the attachment being used for rows, there are times I just remove the knee pad assembly and set it aside. This really only happens when I use a bulky attachment though so I don’t have to worry about bumping it into the pads.
Body Solid Pro Lat & Mid Row – Attachments
My SLM300G Lat Tower came with two attachments; a wide lat pulldown bar and a rowing handle. They’re pretty standard, exactly like what you’d find at your local Gold’s or Lifetime Fitness – steel, knurled, and 100% usable.
I didn’t even consider whether the Body Solid would come with attachments when I ordered it. I’ve already got plenty of cable attachments, and I’m so used to ordering them separately anyway that it just never even occurred to me. When I found the two included attachments I was not only surprised that they were even there, I was surprised that they were both pretty decent! They’re definitely solid steel, not hollow; they are of a good diameter and feel super in the hands, and the knurling is significant without being too much. The wide lat bar is even knurled for chins too.
I own nicer attachments than what came with this machine, but they weren’t cheap. It’s nice to know that one can buy the SLM300G without having to run right out and buy attachments or replace the included attachments because they leave something to be desired.
I’ll be honest with you though. Even if this lat tower came with no attachments at all (or with cheap attachments), it wouldn’t change my overall opinion of the machine itself. Acquiring a decent attachment collection is easy compared to finding a reasonably-priced lat/row tower for the garage gym.
Body Solid Pro Lat & Mid Row Review – Pros & Cons
- Just an extremely competitive piece of equipment overall. The lat machine is oftentimes very missed when one transitions from a global gym to a garage gym. The SLM300G is a very reasonably-priced option with a lot of available weight and a small footprint.
- The steel used for the frame and the backing plates, as well as the assembly hardware used for the SLM300G is all commercial-grade. No part of this machine’s frame is ever going to bend, warp or otherwise fail. I even looked for a bolt anywhere on the machine that I could over-tighten and warp the frame, but the backing plates are just too thick.
- The SLM300G has large, 4½” diameter pulleys rather than the cheap, small pulleys you commonly find on economy machines. Small-diameter pulleys don’t feel as smooth and they more quickly damage the cables because of the tight angles they move the cables through. For those of you who have shredded cables on the Spud Inc Pulley before, it’s because of the small-diameter of their included pulley. Small-diameter pulleys are bad.
- Fit and finish is professional. All of the hardware is covered with caps so you don’t have to look at or rub up against large nuts and bolts, the paint is clean and consistent with a protective clear coat, and as I’ll mention below, the pads are extremely well done.
- The seat is very well done. It’s of a good length, the DuraFirm pad is dense while being comfortable and the stitching is professional and seemingly durable. I foresee no issues with the vinyl seat of this machine.
- Like the seat, the knee rollers are also excellent. They are dense, vinyl-covered, and of a generous diameter (they aren’t slip-on vinyl covers either.) After dealing with the small diameter, hard rollers of my old Powertec equipment, I’m extremely happy with these.
- No cable changing is required to switch between lat pulldowns and rows. Many of these dual-pulley machines require you to detach a section of cable from the upper pulley and move it to the lower pulley when you want to change exercises. That’s not the case with this machine.
- The position of the overhead pulley is perfect. It’s directly overhead rather than being in front of you like it tends to be with over-the-rack pulley systems and leverage machines.
- This machine ships with two completely usable cable attachments – a wide lat pulldown bar and a narrow, parallel-grip row handle. These handles are not the fanciest things in the world, but they are high-quality, nicely-knurled, and fully functional. They would not need to be replaced or upgraded.
- I don’t know if Body Solid does this for non-commercial equipment, but the two piece of commercial equipment that I own have both included a couple jars of touch-up paint. It’s a nice touch – being able to clean up any potential (and inevitable) dings and scratches.
The SLM300G functions beautifully. These cons are just simple little things that I personally think could make the machine a little better. I have no major design, performance, or quality complaints.
- I’d love to have the total weight of the stack at each pin position labeled rather than just having the plates numbered, but not only does this gripe have zero impact on machine function, it is also something I could technically fix myself if I cared enough.
- It wouldn’t have been the worst thing in the world to have 10-lb plates rather than 15-lb plates, but this too is not that big of a deal since it’s a back machine.
- There is a post below the lower cable that I assume is for placing your row handle when not being used. You can indeed balance a triangle row handle on this post, but it’s quite useless for other attachments. It would be nice if this post had been better thought out, and could support larger attachments.
Body Solid Pro Lat & Mid Row Review Summary
There were three major things I needed from this machine in order to be completely happy with it. For starters I needed it to have a heavy enough weight stack that not having access to enough weight would never, ever be an issue.
Second, I needed the machine to actually work well. I did not want to deal with a cable that felt like it was dragging or weights that felt as though they were catching or rubbing against the steel rods. In other words, I didn’t want any weird resistance to come from friction within the system.
Finally, I really needed a small footprint. I’m in a garage gym after all, and I already have a full-size functional trainer alongside a Monster Half Rack. Space is extremely limited.
Well I got all three of these things so I guess it’s safe to say that I’m a happy camper. I have 300-lbs on the stack, the cables move through the pulleys smoothly and there is no drag on the weight stack, and in terms of square footage the Body Solid has the smallest footprint of any dual-station lat/row machine by far (by half in many cases.)
Not only are my three primary requirements met, but the fit and finish of the machine makes me happy too. The clear-coated paint is thick, resilient, and attractive; the pads and rollers look very professional and are also quite comfortable, and I do not have any issues with my height like I did on my previous lat machine (you may be surprised how often being 6’4″ has been an issue with gym equipment.)
There’s not whole a lot that I’d change about the SLM300G. I might make the seat a little bit longer, but I only say that because I’m so tall; I’d probably put the total weight on the weight plates rather than just numbering the plates 1-20; and perhaps I’d include a removable half-weight plate since this machine jumps up in 15-lb increments rather than 10-lbs. These are all minor grievances that honestly, I feel kind of bad even complaining about considering the super low price of this machine compared to other commercial dual-pulley lat machines. So yeah, overall I’m incredibly happy with how much machine this is for what it costs.
Body Solid Pro Lat & Mid Row – Pricing & Comparisons
So how does the Body Solid SLM300G stack up against the competition for real? Well let’s take a look.
Elite FTS Lat Tower w/ Low Row
Price-wise, the Elite FTS is the most comparable to the Body Solid SLM300G. When found on sale, this unit can be had for about $1800 before shipping. Of course, it could be that the price isn’t that comparable at all depending on the quote you get for shipment, but on paper the prices are similar (remember that the Body Solid does ship for free.)
The prices being comparable probably won’t matter in the end, as the Elite FTS Tower isn’t nearly as nice as the Body Solid. It utilizes smaller 2″ x 2″ steel for the frame (rather than 2″ x 4″), it has a lighter weight stack (250-lbs vs 300-lbs), it takes up 30% more square footage (13 ft² vs 10 ft²) while also requiring even more free space in front of the unit for rows (rows are performed on the floor), and switching between stations requires a cable change. If that wasn’t enough of a difference, the rollers look pretty meh on the Elite FTS as well.
Now in defense of the Elite, you do get to choose your frame colors, which I suppose is fine if you care about such things to the extent you’d be willing to pay more and wait longer for it (lead time is 4-6 weeks on Elite products.)
For $2199 before shipping, you can upgrade this to the ‘professional’ version which does up the steel to 2.5″ x 2.5″ steel tubing, and the weight stack to 300-lbs. You’ll still have the add-ed expense of shipping and the heavy lead time, but the unit itself is nicer than the standard model.
Legend Fitness #971 Lat Tower w/ Low Row
At just over $2800 before shipping, the Legend #971 is not quite as friendly to the wallet as the Body Solid, but it is still a very nice machine. It too has a 300-lb weight stack with a 1:1 ratio, large upholstered rollers, and no need for cable changes when switching between lat pulldowns and rows. It even has the advantage of 10-lb weight increments rather than 15-lb increments. So far so good!
Unfortunately for us garage gym owners, the #971 is absolutely massive. It’s nearly 850-lbs and over 93″ long; requiring a total of 31 square feet of floor space! That’s 3 times as much floor space as the Body Solid.
Why is the Legend so big? Mostly because the seat is so long – easily as long as the seats you’d find on a standalone mid row cable machine in a commercial gym (as in not a combo machine.) This combined with a removable foot plate is indeed a nice touch (you swap the knee pads for the foot plate), but it does make for a massive piece of equipment.
I’m not going to tell you this isn’t a great lat machine, but it’s not functionally any better than the Body Solid, and it’ll cost you well over $3000 shipped, take up 3 times more floor space, and require a couple months of lead time. Like Elite FTS though, you do get to pick frame & upholstery colors. It’s nice, just big and expensive.
True Fitness Force Commercial Lat Pull / Mid Row
I don’t personally know anything about this particular company, but I wanted to include this machine because it illustrates what you’d pay for the Body Solid if Body Solid was trying to market the SLM300G to global gyms and fitness clubs.
The True Fitness Force Machine is functionally identical to the Body Solid, but you can see that it has a more commercial look in that it’s more curvy and contemporary, it has far more shrouding than all of these other machines, and it just looks more refined. For as fancy and beautiful as it is though, it still has less weight (250-lbs) than the Body Solid, it’s significantly larger (taking up far more space), and it costs over $3000.
It’s also interesting to point out that the warranty for this $3000+ machine is garbage when compared to the SLM300G; with some components being only 6 months! I personally think you’d have to be crazy to go with a mainstream commercial machine for the home / garage when you’ve got options like the SLM300G and the Rogue Monster (below.)
Rogue Monster Stand Alone Lat Pull / Low Row
The Monster Lat Pull / Low Row Machine is definitely solid competition for the Body Solid. It has a compact design like the SLM300G, a 300-lb stack with smaller weight increments (10 lb versus 15-lbs), and large-diameter knee rollers. It even has a handful of features that the Body Solid does not have, like pegs for resistance bands and giant 6″ aluminum pulleys. To say that this is a nice piece of equipment is an understatement for sure.
Why not go with the Rogue over the Body Solid then? Pretty much just because of price. At $2950 plus over $400 in freight and taxes, the Rogue is expensive. Yes it’s about as nice as a lat machine can be; sporting Rogue’s beautiful black and red color scheme while being as strong and functional as any other commercial unit; it’s just hard to ignore how expensive it is. This is no small investment.
But hey, if you can afford to drop nearly twice as much money on your lat tower, then go for it. I’d personally not buy the Legend or the Elite FTS machines, and obviously I chose to go with the Body Solid at $1800 over the $3400 Rogue… but if I were to go with anything other than the Body Solid, it most definitely would have been the Rogue; no doubt about it.
Rogue CT-1 Cable Tower
Rogue’s new CT-1 Cable Tower is a really nice piece of equipment, but it’s not a lat tower. It is really more like half of a functional trainer in that it has an adjustable pulley column. It can be adjusted high for pulldowns and then set low for rows (it even has a foot plate) but it has no knee pads of any kind, and the 250-lb weight stack actually operates at a 2:1 ratio rather than the 1:1 you’d want from a lat machine. 125-lbs of effective weight is just not very much at all when it comes to pulls.
The CT-1 has its uses, especially when purchased in pairs, but it’s not a lat machine. Don’t buy this thinking it’s a suitable alternative to the other machines discussed in this review.
|Body Solid SLM300G/2||210-lbs||1:1||15-lbs||10.3||$1716|
|Body Solid SLM300G/3||300-lbs||1:1||15-lbs||10.3||$1831|
|EliteFTS Pull/Row Pro||300-lbs||1:1||10-lbs||13||$2199|
|Legend Fitness #971||300-lbs||1:1||10-lbs||31||$2839|
|Rogue Monster Tower||300-lbs||1:1||10-lbs||16.6||$2950|
|True Fitness Force||255-lbs||1:1||15-lbs||26||$3025|
What Other Machines?
Honestly, if you know of a selectorized lat machine that would make for a reasonable alter-native to the Body Solid for not a lot of money (or the Rogue for a lot of money), mention it in the comments. When looking at all these lat/row machines I only ever found lower prices on machines that required loading your own Olympic plates, and if there is something that I overlooked I’d love to know about it.