I will admit I am a picky guy. I can look at a beautiful view somewhere and find myself focussing on the view’s single, tiny imperfection rather than appreciating the vast, near-perfect vista in front of me.
I buy quite a lot of stuff and yet I find most products are flawed in some way. There’s usually some detail that spoils things and that’s true whether it’s a car, a house, furniture, technology, software or, as it relates to this article, weight-training equipment.
So it is with much joy that I can say the Ironmaster IM2000 is as good a product as I’ve seen for my particular circumstances.
Those circumstance bear mentioning so that you know the context in which I’m writing this review. I train at home, alone in a small workout space in the corner of a bedroom. I train mainly with free-weights but also like to perform cable exercises and have access to a Smith-type machine when necessary.
The Ironmaster IM2000 satisfies these requirements admirably.
I bought my IM2000 as part of a package that consisted of the following:
- the IM2000 itself,
- the chin/pull-up attachment for the IM2000,
- the cable row plate for the low pulley on the IM2000,
- the J-hooks and spotter bars for the IM2000,
- the Ironmaster Superbench,
- the leg attachment (extensions & curls) for the Superbench,
- the dip attachment for the Superbench,
- the preacher curl attachment for the Superbench,
- the crunch attachment for the Superbench.
I already had a 7ft Olympic barbell, a 6ft barbell, a 5ft barbell, an EZ barbell, dumbbell handles and just under 300kg of Body-Power Rubber-Encased Tri-Grip Olympic weight plates. I also had ropes, bits of chain, a calf block and a V-bar, and I bought some Spud Straps separately (and I’ll explain how I use them later).
The IM2000 comes boxed up securely as a pallet delivery. Some of the boxes are fairly heavy but if you have kind delivery people they might help you lug it all inside, although I don’t believe that’s part of their job description. I certainly had a lot of boxes cluttering up my hallway when I took delivery of this stuff.
I assembled both the IM2000 and the Superbench (which requires virtually no assembly anyway) in four or five hours on my own. It would have been much easier if I’d had someone helping me but it’s not necessary as long as you’re strong enough to lift the IM2000’s uprights and hold them in place on your own.
The instructions are pretty good and it was a welcome change to have an instruction manual that hasn’t been translated directly (and usually very poorly) from Chinese. Ironmaster stuff is of American origin and the instructions are in good English.
If you think things through, assembly should be pretty straightforward.
Most of the parts are labelled and you can easily match them up with the instruction manual. I did have two mislabelled parts: two of the base supports were incorrectly labelled left and right (the left one was actually right and vice-versa). It took me a little while to figure out they were mislabelled but, by thinking things through carefully, I ascertained they had to be because it just wouldn’t go together correctly otherwise.
So, take your time and should be fine.
Dimensions & Tolerances
The official footprint of the IM2000 is 122 cm (48 inches) wide by 122 cm (48 inches) deep and it’s 215 cm (84.5 inches) high. It weighs 136 kg (300 lbs).
The lifting bar is 185.5 cm (73 inches) wide and it weighs 16 kg (36 lbs) with the Olympic sleeve adapters on it.
The weight capacity of the bar is 453.5 kg (1000 lbs) and the cable system is rated for 159 kg (350 lbs).
However, a manufacturer’s footprint dimensions don’t really give you much idea how much space you actually need to work out on a particular bit of weight-training kit. You’ll also need room to position a bench and get around the rack to load plates on it.
I reckon you’re going to need a minimum of 255 cm (100 inches) square to use the IM2000 effectively.
300 cm (118 inches) square would be ideal but you can just about get by with 255cm square. In that sized area, you could use all parts of the machine (Smith and cable), place a bench where you need it and use it with a 7ft Olympic barbell if you want to lift with free weights.
I’m quoting the dimensions just for this machine here and I’d want the room it’s in to have bigger dimensions than that otherwise it would be too claustrophobic.
If you’re planning a home gym, don’t forget you’ll also need space to work outside of the machine if you want a full range of exercises at your disposal.
The main bit of the IM2000 is what Ironmaster call a “self-spotting machine” but the rest of us would just call it a Smith machine. It travels straight up and down, as opposed to some Smith machines that arc backwards at 7 degrees or so.
Personally, I have no preference when it comes to whether the bar travels at an angle or not, but if someone held a gun to my head and forced an opinion, I’d say an angle is a little more comfortable with flat bench presses and straight up and down is better for everything else. But essentially I don’t care and can use either.
The Smith bar is very smooth to operate and the only maintenance requirement is to treat the uprights with silicon spray once a month or so.
There is a stopper below the runners for the Smith bar that you set at an appropriate height to give you some emergency support.
The Smith bar is also used in cable exercises and this dual function is how the IM2000 manages to fit into quite a small space. You hook the cable around the bar and load it with free weights to provide your resistance. There’s a high pulley hanging off the top of the rack that you can use for things like lat pulldowns and triceps pressdowns. There’s a little hinged gate at the bottom of the machine you can swing closed and this has pads you can hook your thighs under to keep you planted on things like lat pulldowns.
This hinged gate also has a low pulley on it and by winding the cable through that you can perform things like cable rows. I have the optional footplate to attach to this. You can perform cable rows without it but the footplate gives you a better platform to anchor yourself against and allows you to perform cable rows with a bigger range of motion — I’d recommend it.
There are four plate storage prongs on either side at the back of the rack.
The high cross-member on the front of the rack is designed to take the chin/pull-up attachment. If you like chins and pull-ups, this is an excellent attachment; it’s quite adjustable and offers a range of angles and widths for such exercises.
The whole thing exudes quality and it’s very solidly constructed. The IM2000 has the feel of something that will last many years.
Free Weight Exercises
I mainly use the Smith part of this machine for its cable exercises or to provide some variety for pressing movements, but for most exercises I like to use free weights.
If you want to use free weights with the IM2000 then you’ll certainly need the optional J-hooks and I’d highly recommend the spotter bars too. These both attach to the front uprights and the width between them is the same as you’d get on a power rack, which means you’ll need a 7ft Olympic barbell (or one of the smaller barbells that are adapted to fit power racks) if you want to use free weights with the IM2000.
The optional spotter bars are 35 cm (13.5 inches) long, which is plenty for the exercises I do. No, it’s not quite as safe as a full power rack, which will have full-length spotter bars, but it’s sufficient.
The only deficiency of this sort of arrangement (as opposed to a power rack) is with squats. If you’re squatting heavy in a power rack and you or the bar was to topple backwards, the bar would clatter against the uprights before it dropped on to the spotters, so you’d contain your fall safely within the rack. Of course on the IM2000 you’re open at the back. Personally, I have never toppled backwards during a squat, but what I do when I’m lifting heavy is to attach spud straps to the top crossbeam of the IM2000 and then around the barbell. As I said, I’ve never had this particular accident so with me it’s more of psychological safety net.
There is no getting away from the fact that a full power rack is safer, but with a bit of thought and care the IM2000 is a decent second best.
I can only tell you what exercises I’ve used this for.
I use it for free-weight bench presses (flat & incline), squats and shoulder presses (seated and standing) every week.
I use the Smith bar for decline bench presses, close-grip bench presses, seated calf raises (put a towel on your knees for padding), rack pulls, leg presses and for variety with my free-weight exercises sometimes.
I regularly use the high pulley for lat pulldowns and triceps pressdowns, I use the low pulley for cable rows and overhead triceps extensions (with a rope) and I use the optional chin/pull-up bar for those exercises.
Then I work outside the IM2000 for deadlifts, curls, dumbbell work and most other things. I have my IM2000 coupled with an Ironmaster Superbench and I have attachments for that to permit leg curls, leg extensions, dips, preacher curls, sit-ups and crunches.
I love my IM2000. I’d still prefer a power rack but I just didn’t have the room for a power rack and a cable attachment (which I’d want), and the IM2000 provides an excellent alternative when space is at a premium.
I think it has excellent build quality and should last a lifetime.
I have some small criticisms but they’re less to do with the machine and more to do with the cost. It’s quite expensive and I think some of the attachments could be thrown in for the price; certainly the Olympic plate adapters, J-hooks and spotter bars if nothing else.
And don’t forget that the IM2000 doesn’t come with a bench, so you’ll need to factor that into your budget too. I’d recommend the Ironmaster Superbench in that respect.
But I don’t think the Ironmaster IM2000 is a purchase you’ll ever regret (assuming a power rack is impossible) and I’ll give it a rare (for me) five star rating. It is easily as good as the Body-Solid Series 7 I had a few years ago and fits into a much smaller space.