A Smith machine is a metal frame used to assist weightlifters with their training program.
They are a very useful addition to your home gym as they are often multi-functional and can assist with a wide variety of activities.
These can include squats, bench press, pull ups, and more. They also come with many safety features installed to prevent you from injuring yourself, even when training alone.
They are characterized by a barbell attached to the frame on a pulley system. This means that it can move up and down smoothly without the fear of it falling to the ground.
They are very useful in improving or maintaining your lifting form, but many more experienced athletes do not like them.
We have rounded up the top 5 Smith machines for home gyms available on the market. Our favourite is listed just below, so that you can find it easily.
We have reviewed the other 4 too, and included a buyers guide in this article. This will help you be aware of what qualities you need in a Smith machine.
We have also included a handy FAQ section at the end to answer any remaining questions you may have.
None of our picks come with weights, meaning that you will need to purchase them separately, however this is fairly standard.
OUR TOP PICK
This is one of our cheapest picks at $699.99 on Amazon.com. The rack measures 56x47.6x85.8 inches when assembled and weighs 160 pounds. The footprint is U-shaped for stability.
The power rack comes with a 10 year warranty and is made from a durable 2x2 inch steel frame. It is a straight rack and has a maximum weight capacity of 1,000 pounds.
There is a specific area for storing weight plates. The maximum weight capacity for plates varies between different areas of the machine, but ranges from 250 to 650 pounds.
There are many attachments including dip handles, clip collars, and adaptor sleeves for Olympic plates. This means that the machine is compatible with both standard and Olympic plates.
There are also bar catchers, a pull up bar, a weight holder bar, and a lateral pulldown cable.
- Relatively cheap
- 10 year warranty
- 1,000 pound maximum weight capacity
- Can be used with either Olympic or standard plates
The Fitness Reality 810XLT is a moderately priced $785.
The cage measures 50.5x46.5x83.5 inches when assembled and weighs 133.5 pounds. The machine has a U-shaped footprint.
This Smith machine has a 1 year limited warranty and is constructed from 2x2 inch 14 gauge steel. It has a straight rack and a maximum weight capacity of 800 pounds.
You can purchase weight plate storage as an addition. The maximum weight capacity for plates is 270 pounds.
There are 2 sets of safety bars on the machine with 19 adjustable height levels. There are also 2 rear stability bars for added safety.
The machine has high and low row pulley systems which use a high tensile strength nylon coated cable.
There are 2 attachments of 39 inch and 20 inch low row bar attachments with foam grips for added comfort.
The machine works with Olympic plates. You will need to purchase the bar, weight plates, bench, and adaptor sleeves separately.
- 1 year warranty period
- 800 pound maximum weight capacity
- 14 gauge steel frame
- Weight plate storage must be purchased separately
The Papabebe is our cheapest pick at $698.99. The cage measures 47x54x88 inches and weighs 163 pounds. The footprint measures 48x60 inches and is shaped like the letter U.
There is no warranty period mentioned for this machine, which is a little concerning. The machine has an average review on Amazon.com of 4.5 stars from over 70 reviewers. It is made from a 2x2 inch steel.
The machine has a straight rack and a very high maximum weight capacity of 1,200 pounds. It comes with an inbuilt weight plate storage and has a maximum weight plate capacity of 400 pounds.
There are 26 adjustable height settings and 4 anchored feet with rubber base caps for added safety.
The machine can be used with either Olympic or standard plates. It comes with 2 Olympic adaptor sleeves, a 41 inch lat bar and a 14 inch low row bar.
You will need to purchase the bar separately, as well as the weights.
- Relatively moderately priced
- 1,200 pound maximum weight capacity
- Can be used with Olympic or standard plates
- No warranty period mentioned
The Marcy Diamond Elite MD-9010G is by far our most expensive pick at $3,499.99.
It measures 70x83x85 inches and with the bench, has a footprint of roughly 125x83 inches. It weighs a hefty 430 pounds.
The machine comes with a 2 year warranty period and is constructed from a heavy-duty steel with a powder coating. It contains aircraft cables with a tensile strength of 2,000 pounds.
The rack is on a slight angle and has a maximum weight capacity of 600 pounds. There are safety latches included and 6 weight plate pegs for convenient storage. The weight plate capacity is 300 pounds.
The rack uses Olympic weight plates. It has plate posts, a lat bar, V bar, shiver bar, tricep rope, ankle straps, 2 single handles, and a foot plate.
- 2 year warranty
- 600 pound maximum weight capacity
- Very expensive
- Weighs 430 pounds
This machine costs $1,199 and measures 45x76x80 inches. It weighs 158 pounds and is the only one of our picks with an H-shaped base.
The machine comes with a 10 year warranty on the frame and a 1 year parts warranty. It is constructed from 12 gauge steel and is a straight rack.
No maximum weight capacity is stated, hence the low ranking.
There are dedicated areas for weight plate storage and the rack can hold weight plates of up to 400 pounds. The rack is only suitable for use with standard plates.
There are 14 lockout points to provide the user with great safety. These have jumbo pop pins to ensure the safety features do not fail.
There is also a dual-lock safety spotter catch system to ensure even solo users are safe at all times.
The machine has a super-glide carriage to allow the weights to move fluidly, no matter the load.
- 10 year warranty period
- Many additional safety features
- Over $1,000
- No maximum weight capacity stated
Best Smith Machines Buying Guide
Number of Workout Stations
Most Smith machines will incorporate a weight bench suitable for a huge range of different targeted workouts. Some will include weight plates for a wider variety of activities.
Some Smith machines will have a pulley system installed, meaning that you can perform exercises like lat pulldowns.
You may even find Smith machines with a leg extension area and a pull up bar.
What else you have in your home gym, and your workout goals will be the determining factor in what kind of Smith machine you should look for.
A decent Smith machine is likely to set you back at least $500. They are a real investment and will last for a very long time.
You should think of them as such and be prepared to spend a decent amount of money on a Smith machine.
They are incredibly durable, and if you are looking for a more budget option, you may consider checking Craigslist or eBay.
As it is an expensive purchase, we would recommend looking for a Smith machine that comes with a warranty period.
Many manufacturers will offer around a 1-year warranty period.
This means that if your machine breaks or deteriorates in quality over the year, the manufacturer will repair it at no additional cost to you.
Size And Dimensions
One of the important things to consider when purchasing a Smith machine is the footprint.
Measure the area that the base will take up and ensure you have at least this. Machines with a larger footprint will be more stable and are less likely to fall over or move when in use.
For safe operation, you will need a couple of extra feet around the back and sides of the Smith machine. You should also have at least 7 foot extra space in front of the machine.
You should also ensure the machine is not too tall for your room, and can fit inside comfortably.
A Smith machine is likely to weigh at least 800 pounds. This is because they are large pieces of metal workout gear and need to be strong enough to support a large amount of weight.
Prior to purchasing your Smith machine, you should ensure that your floor can hold such a large weight. If it can't, your following may crack or buckle.
In the worst case, it may even cause your floor to fall through and leave lasting damage on your home.
This will determine how strong your Smith machine is. The stronger the material, the more durable and sturdy your SMith machine will be.
We advise looking for machines constructed from steel or other hardy metals.
Low gauge steel is better for the framework if you will be using the Smith machine to lift heavy weights. This is more durable and stable than higher gauge steel.
Maximum Weight Capacity
This is the largest amount of weight that your Smith machine can support without breaking.
We suggest looking for a machine with a weight capacity of at least 300 to 600 pounds. This gives plenty of wiggle room for people of most weights to operate the machine safely.
It also gives a large excess weight limit to allow you to build up your strength.
There are no issues associated with getting a machine with too high of a maximum weight capacity.
This will likely allow your machine to last longer, but may be slightly more expensive. If in doubt, we would always recommend buying a machine with a higher weight capacity.
For ease of operating, you should look for a Smith machine with vertical bearings up the sides of the frame.
These will allow the bar to move up and down the frame with ease.
The alignment allows the movement to be smoother and means the bar does not get stuck or vibrate when moving.
Straight or Angled?
This ultimately comes down to a matter of personal preference.
Some people prefer an angled path as it feels more natural. Others despise this and much prefer a straight path of travel.
Before purchasing your Smith machine, we recommend trying out a few models in both styles.
This will allow you to make an informed decision and means you can choose a machine that is right for you.
You must look for a Smith machine with a spotter arm or locking pins to prevent injury.
These prevent the bar from dropping below a certain level on the frame.
The presence of these features mean that you can safely lift alone without worrying about hurting yourself.
Particularly if you are using heavy weights, safety features are vital.
Weight Plate Storage
These are metal pins extruding from the frame of your Smith machine on which you can store your weight plates. This is not a vital feature, but is particularly important for home gym setups.
This means that you do not need to worry about purchasing a weight rack, freeing up additional floor space in your gym.
This will also save you money, and means that all of your weight plates are conveniently located for easy use.
If you wish to make your Smith machine more of a multifunctional piece of equipment, look for one with lots of attachment options.
These could include a ped deck, lat pulldown bar, a dip station, or many more.
As a general rule, the more attachments the Smith machine has, the more expensive it will be.
Olympic or Standard Weight Plates
These are the 2 types of weight plates and you must choose the correct one for your machine.
Cheaper machines will often use standard plates, whereas more expensive machines will use Olympic weight plates.
The difference between the two is the diameter of the hole in the center of the plates. Olympic plates have a 2 inch hole in the center, whereas standard has 1 inch holes.
This means that your barbell will not suit both plates, and you must buy the correct plates that correspond to the bar.
This is a pulley system incorporated into the Smith machine.
This essentially acts to reduce the weight of the barbell and the resistance.
Most models are not counterbalanced, and the ones that are are likely to cost more.
Plates or Stack
This is referring to the type of weight and how they are loaded onto the machine. A stack system is a long rectangular pile of weights.
From this, you can select the desired weight quantity for your exercise. These are easier for beginners to use as you do not need to take off and load on individual weights.
Weight plates are much more versatile and you can tailor the weight load to your individual abilities. However, there is a greater risk of injury as you must take them off and reload them individually.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is it Called a Smith Machine?
It was invented in the 1960s by Jack Lalanne. The machine was named after Rudy Smith, an executive from a fitness club.
He took Lalanne’s design and developed it, finding builders to construct an early version.
He mass-marketed the equipment as a safe way to lift heavy weights. By the 1970s, the Smith machine had become a staple in most American gyms.
What Are The Benefits?
The biggest benefit of a Smith machine is the additional security it provides the user with. You can safely lift heavy weights without the presence of a spotter, without worrying about hurting yourself.
The Smith machine also allows you to focus more on your form as you lift.
The bar being locked to a vertical path of movement means that you do not have to be concerned about falling forwards or backwards.
This forces a more controlled movement and allows you to isolate specific muscles.