Best Smith Machines

Updated September 2020
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

28 Models Considered
9 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
370 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best Smith machines

Last Updated September 2020

When you’re committed to building muscle and getting lean, it helps to have the right equipment in your home for effective weightlifting. That way, you don’t have any excuses for not maintaining a regular workout routine. A Smith machine is an ideal piece of equipment to invest in if you want to be able to do a total-body weight-training workout with a single apparatus.

A Smith machine consists of a barbell that moves vertically on rails inside a frame. There are guides along the tracks that can be locked, which makes the machine safe for training without a spotter. You only have to twist your wrists to lock the barbell in place. With a Smith machine, you can do a variety of exercises, including squats, bench presses, deadlifts, and lateral pull-downs, which makes it ideal for anyone who wants some versatility in their home weightlifting workouts.

Our buying guide has all the tips you need to find the best Smith machine for your home gym. If you’re still feeling a little overwhelmed, we’ve included some product recommendations to take the guesswork out of shopping.

Many weightlifters have greater confidence working out on a Smith machine because the built-in safety features make accidents much less likely.

Key considerations

Frame

Because a Smith machine must be able to support a good deal of weight, the frame has to be durable and well constructed. Nearly all Smith machines have steel in the frame, which allows the machine to safely hold more weight. However, pay attention to how much of the frame is made of steel. Some Smith machines are made entirely of steel, while others use a combination of steel and lighter metals. The more steel, the stronger and more durable the frame.

The quality of the steel matters, too. Opt for a Smith machine with a frame of 11 or 12 gauge steel, which is thicker than higher gauge steel and offers greater strength and durability.

Weight limit

Smith machines vary in terms of how much weight they can safely hold, which can impact how effective a model is for your particular workout needs. The majority of home Smith machines have a weight capacity of between 300 and 1,100 pounds. You should avoid machines with a weight capacity below 300 pounds, but those with a 300- to 600-pound capacity can work well for beginners. For more experienced weightlifters or those looking to up their weight training game, you’ll likely want a machine with a capacity of 600 to 1,100 pounds.

EXPERT TIP

To release the bar from the lock points on a Smith machine, you only have to rotate your wrists.


Staff  | BestReviews

Features

Guided track system

A Smith machine should have guided track or precision bearing system, which allows it to combine the functions of free weights and guided weight stacks. You change plates to increase or decrease the weight you’re lifting, but the barbell that you lift sits on a guided track where it can be locked for safety at certain points.

Most Smith machines features a vertical guided track, so you’re able to lift in a smooth, vertical motion without worrying about becoming unbalanced. A vertical track also prevents the bar from moving forward or backward as you lift. However, you can find some Smith machines that also have a horizontal guided track, so you’re able to make lateral movements, too. These types of machines are usually more expensive, but they offer the most versatility and are generally preferred by experienced weightlifters.

Plate compatibility

You want a Smith machine that’s compatible with the weight plates you prefer to use. Some Smith machine include their own weights, but others are compatible with either standard or Olympic plates.

The reason that a machine can’t use both types of plates is that the hole size in the center of the plates is different. Standard plates have a 1-inch diameter hole, while Olympic plates have a 2-inch diameter hole. The barbell is a different size, too. Some Smith machines include an Olympic adapter kit, which allows you to turn a standard barbell into an Olympic bar. That can be convenient if you want to switch between the two different types of plates.

Keep in mind that you’ll usually pay more for a Smith machine that uses Olympic plates, while those that work with standard plates tend to be more affordable.

Counterbalancing

More expensive Smith machines have a pulley system that provides a counterbalance to reduce the barbell’s weight. That allows you to do low-resistance exercises when necessary. However, counterbalanced machines are usually found in commercial gyms, so they may be too costly for home use. You can find some home machines that feature the pulley system as a separate add-on item, but that adds to the overall cost of the machine.

Attachments

Some Smith machines have a variety of attachments that make the machine even more versatile. In some cases, the attachments can allow the machine to serve as a complete home gym. Some attachments that may be included with a Smith machine include the following:

  • Leg developer
  • Pull-up bar
  • Lat pull-down
  • Preacher curl
  • Dip station
  • Adjustable/removable bench
  • Weight stacks

Onboard storage

You can find some Smith machines that allow you to store the weight plates on the machine itself. That can save you from the expense of having to purchase a separate weight plate tree, and you won’t be tempted to leave them on the floor.

Safety features

As with any piece of weight-training or fitness equipment, you want to be sure that your Smith machine is as safe to use as possible. Make sure that any model you consider has various locking points along the track, so you can work out safely without a spotter. That’s particularly important when you’re working out alone at home.

EXPERT TIP

Some Smith machines don’t include attachments for additional exercises, but you can purchase them separately from the manufacturer if you want to increase your machine’s versatility.


Staff  | BestReviews

Accessories

Weight plate tree: Body-Solid Olympic Plate Tree
If your Smith machine doesn’t have onboard storage for weight plates, you’ll definitely want a plate tree to keep them nicely organized. We love this tree from Body-Solid because it can hold up to 1,000 pounds of plates, as well as two Olympic bars, so you can keep all of your equipment in one convenient spot.

Smith machine prices

Smith machines vary in price based on weight capacity, attachments, and special features. Most models cost between $260 and $3,500.

Inexpensive: The most affordable Smith machines are basic home models that don’t include any attachments or onboard storage. They typically have a weight capacity of 300 to 800 pounds and cost from $260 to $540.

Mid-range: These Smith machines are high-end home models that include onboard storage and some attachments, such as a lat pull and/or adjustable bench. They usually have a weight capacity between 500 and 1,000 pounds and cost between $540 and $1,400.

Expensive: The most expensive Smith machines are counterbalanced commercial-grade models. They may feature attachments, such as an adjustable bench, and typically have a weight capacity between 600 and 1,100 pounds. They generally range from $1,400 to $3,500.

EXPERT TIP

Pay careful attention to a Smith machine’s dimensions and measure the area where you plan to put it in your home to be sure it will fit.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • Use the machine as you recover from injury. A Smith machine can be an ideal option when you’re recovering from an injury because it allows you to isolate specific muscles, so you don’t have to work out the injured area of your body.
  • Mix it up. With a Smith machine, you can use techniques like partial reps, which call for you to lift through a short range of motion; reverse movements, which call for you to begin an exercise at the bottom of the rep; and angle-specific isometrics, which call for you to pull or press a fixed weight that won’t move from a variety of different angles.
  • Use proper form for squats. If you’re doing squats on a Smith machine, be careful to keep your feet shoulder width apart. That allows you to focus on your quads and glutes when you push back to a standing position.
  • Use proper form for lunges. When you do lunges on a Smith machine, always keep your knee in line over your toes, so you stay in a balanced position.

Other products we considered

With so many Smith machines on the market, there are some worth checking out that we couldn’t include on our short list. The Merax Athletics Fitness Power Rack is an ideal option if you prefer working with Olympic bars and plates. It can support up to 800 pounds and features a built-in pull-up bar, lat pull-down, and low row attachment for added versatility.

We also love the Valor Fitness BE-11 Smith Machine because its solid steel frame can hold up to 1,000 pounds. Its linear bearings also ensure that the bar always moves smoothly along the track for safe, efficient workouts.

Some Smith machines are more complicated to assemble than others. It can take anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours to fully assemble one.

FAQ

Q. What are the benefits of exercising on a Smith machine?
A.
With a Smith machine, you don’t have to worry about balancing the barbell because it can’t move side to side or backward or forward, which allows you to focus solely on lifting the weight. It also enables you to work out all of the major muscle groups for a full-body workout and can help you maintain proper form since the bar moves along tracks.
 

Q. Can I really use a Smith machine without a spotter?
A.
While it’s always a good idea to have someone around when you’re lifting heavy weights, a Smith machine can spot for you. That’s because there are holes along the track on a Smith machine for the hooks on the bar to fit inside, which effectively lock the weight in place. If you get fatigued during a workout, you simply rotate your wrists and the hooks catch on the holes to lock the bar in place.
 

Q. Do Smith machines usually come with a warranty?
A.
Most Smith machines offer some type of warranty, though the coverage varies from model to model. In most cases, there are separate warranties for the machine’s frame and its moving parts. Some manufacturers offer as little as two to three years of coverage for the frame and a year on the hardware. Others provide a lifetime warranty for the frame and one to three years of protection for the hardware. High-end Smith machines may even offer a lifetime warranty on both the frame and the moving parts.

The team that worked on this review
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Ciera
    Ciera
    Digital Content Producer
  • Jennifer
    Jennifer
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer

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