The Ultimate Guide to Home Smith Machines Plus 6 of the Best Options for Your Home Gym

If you are looking to maximize your workout gains, guarantee great value for money, and push your fitness goals to the next level, then a Smith machine could be one of the smartest investments you make.

These versatile machines can offer an intense full-body workout, allow you to target and hone in on particular muscle groups, and even allow you to lift weights if you don’t have a spotter with you that day. Essentially, these are an amazing investment if you want freedom and flexibility in your workouts, as well as the ability to switch from exercise to exercise without the hassle and headache of having to change machines.

Smith machines are also amazing space savers - rather than have to find a spot to store a wide range of machines, each with their own function, you can instead gain the same benefits from a single unit.

Best Home Smith Machines

With so many advantages, it is easy to see why Smith machines have become so popular in the home exercise industry - but this popularity brings a problem. There are a huge array of options available, each of which claims to be the best - just how do you go about picking the right one?

Fortunately for you, we have put together a list of the very best Home Smith machines, as well as everything you need to know about making a smart, informed choice. All you have to do is pick your favorite, and enjoy your workout!

OUR TOP PICK

Simple, effective, and gloriously uncomplicated, the Valor BE-11 offers all the basic essentials of a Smith machine, without any of the overly complicated attachments, racking, or half-cage additions which can be more of a hindrance than a help.

This is a unit that feels solid and sturdy, even when you push it to the limits, and includes a 30lb knurled bar, which is designed to run smoothly on the reverse-pitched guide rods. No matter how much you are lifting, you can rest assured that they will run smoothly.

Safety is another major consideration of this model; all safety latches are made from solid steel, and will lockout at 14 separate points, all across the frame. If you need a little more, there are also extra springs and latches, and these can be set separately at any height - ideal if you fail a rep.

You can also enjoy peace of mind with the spring mechanism included in the system - this is designed to prevent the bar from falling on you and crushing your body. The mechanism can be paired with a Counterbalance Kit, and this means that the bar will float, rather than drop, all the time it is unloaded - ideal if you are new to strength training and are looking to lift only the bar.

In terms of strength and convenience, the Valor machine can be used with both standard and Olympic plates, and this ensures that you have a machine that can grow with you. The overall design is light, compact, and comes with rubber pads to give your floor a little extra protection - overall, everything you could ask for from a home gym system.

Pros:

  • Simple, sturdy, and smooth operation
  • A number of safety features for optimum peace of mind
  • System is compact and light - making it ideal for home gyms
  • Suitable for both standard and Olympic bars for maximum convenience.
  • Ideal for a full-body workout

Cons:

  • Not as tall as some of the other options - you will need to sit for overhead work
  • Can be tricky to assemble

EDITORS CHOICE

When it comes to the best all-in-one home gym experience, the Marcy Pro is a top option. Constructed from powdered coated steel, this is a machine built to last and is designed to help you target each and every muscle of your body with ease.

The system includes a utility bench, power toner, and squat rack, as well as a complete cable pulley system. Every element of the machine is easy to use, allowing you to switch effortlessly between workouts using a single piece of equipment - this is especially important in home gyms, which tend to be a little more limited in terms of space.

The comprehensive cable pulley system boasts both upper and lower pulley functions - this means that you can perform the whole range of crossover exercises quickly, efficiently, and while maintaining excellent form.

The bench can be easily adjusted to your exact requirements, allowing you to enjoy dips, bicep curls, sit-ups, dumbbell presses, and tricep extensions smoothly and safely - once again, all while retaining the correct form to protect your neck and muscles from injury.

The frame is also lightweight and easy to move from place to place, thanks to the inclusion of convenient wheels along the bottom. This means that you can move your Smith machine when required, offering optimum convenience and access whenever you need it.

Pros:

  • All in one system offers excellent value for money
  • A number of safety features to allow you to work out with complete confidence
  • Adjustable bench helps ensure that you retain the correct form throughout your workouts, keeping you safe and healthy
  • Frame can be moved thanks to convenient wheels

Cons:

  • Lower weight capacity compared to some other models

BEST VALUE

If you are searching for a machine that offers maximum value for money, the MiM unit could be right up your alley. The unit contains everything you need to get started and carry out your workouts and includes a smooth, easy-to-use gliding mechanism that makes it easy to lift weights safely and securely, without losing your form or injuring yourself.

Extra safety is also offered thanks to the inclusion of safety spotter arms - these allow you to carefully slide out of the machine without incident. The sturdy frame and safety catch hooks mean that it is totally safe to work out by yourself - no need to wait for your friend to spot you!

Another major perk of the MiM unit is the premium bench - this is ideal for a wide variety of different exercises, and targeting different muscles. This can hold a weight of up to 350lb without incident and can be fully adjusted, allowing you to get into the perfect position before you start your reps.

Remember, poor form can result in serious long-term injury, so make the most of this adjustability. It can also be used in conjunction with the pulley system and chin-up bar, allowing you to take care of all your fitness needs using one simple, easy-to-operate machine - ideal if you are on a tight budget.

Pros:

  • Very smooth pulley system which includes a range of attachments for maximum flexibility,
  • Smooth, steady gliding mechanism with linear bearings to allow extra safety
  • Fully adjustable bench which can hold up to 360lbs
  • Variable - can be used for a range of free weight exercises such as deadlifts and squats, as well as targeted workouts.

Cons:

  • Not suitable for use with Olympic weights
  • Bench must be removed to use the pull-up bar

RUNNER UP

With 13 amazing positions, the ability to handle incredible wrights, and a first-class free weight system, this is an ideal option for anyone who is looking to take their fitness journey to the next level, and who is in serious training as an athlete - all while staying safe and secure.

This is a machine that can easily handle over 1000 pounds of weight without any issue, and allows full adjustability of the seat and back to allow you to increase your level of challenge, all while retaining the correct form to stay safe and strong.

In total, the Body-Solid offers eight fully adjustable positions, and this means that you can flow from a 90-degree shoulder press to a decline with minimal effort, all while lifting heavy.

This is a unit that already includes everything you need - there is no need to worry about purchasing additional equipment.

The weight stack and fly press are both already included - something which is not always the case with other machines - and back cushioning combines with double-thickness pads to keep chest exercises comfortable and safe. 

In terms of versatility, the Body-Solid is one of the best we have included on our list - there are around 50 exercises in total that can be carried out with the machine.

Pros:

  • Incredibly versatile - allowing you to carry out over 50 exercises using a single machine
  • Impressive weight capacity - the unit can hold 1000 pounds of weight in total
  • Full adjustability to keep you safe and comfortable
  • Very sturdy, safe design
  • Very comfortable, flexible leg extension

Cons:

  • Weight plate not included with purchase

RUNNER UP

If you are on the hunt for a machine that does it all, then you are in the right place with this first-class Commercial system, which blends a fully functional Smith machine with high-tension cross cables, enabling you to enjoy a full-body workout with a single, simple piece of equipment.

Safety is a priority thanks to the decision to counterbalance the machine using bearing pulleys - this means that you can work out with total confidence in your safety and wellbeing, even if you are on the heavy side. In fact, this is an ideal investment for larger athletes, who may struggle to find a Smith machine suitable for larger sizes. Here, you will have plenty of space to move, work out and chase your fitness goals.

The machine comes with a total of twelve adjustable heights, allowing you to adjust and adapt the level of challenge to your desires and requirements, and comes with high tension 2000lb cross cables - these have an impressive sixteen adjustable heights.

Overall, this is a great option for those who like to take total control of every element of their workout - you can adjust the heights, resistance, and ease of movement to a very close degree, and this is great as you continue to grow and develop fitness and strength. Rather than have to invest in a new unit, you can simply adjust your existing one.

Pros:

  • Suitable for a range of body types - even larger ones
  • Twelve adjustable heights allow you to tailor your workout
  • Sixteen adjustable heights on the cross cables
  • Full adjustability - allowing your machine to grow with you
  • Offers a full-body workout

Cons:

  • Standard version does not include plate weights or bench
  • A little larger than some other options

RUNNER UP

If you are just starting out in the world of weight training and looking to invest in your very first Smith machine, this Body-Solid basic option could be a great pick. As a newbie, it is unlikely that you will be looking for or requiring the many bells and whistles which can come with more expensive units - instead, you simply need a reliable, simple machine that allows you to smash your reps.

This unit is designed with safety in mind, and can be used independently - you can’t avoid working out by using the excuse that there is nobody there to spot you! Crafted from 12-gauge steel, the end result is sturdy and durable, and super-glide nylon bushings help everything to run smoothly and efficiently, resulting in a more comfortable workout.

The dual lock safety spotter catch offers you that extra security and means that you do not have to worry about a spotter. If you are building a home gym, or simply can never get your workout schedule to coordinate with a friend or partner, this is a great way to build strength and continue making gains while training alone - and you can do it with total peace of mind.

Pros:

  • Budget price makes it suitable for beginners
  • 12-gauge steel for a solid, durable, and long-lasting frame
  • Work out independently - there is no need for a spotter thanks to the dual lock spotter catch
  • Compact - perfect for a home gym, or if you have limited space

Cons:

  • Lacks some of the “extras”, versatility, or sophistication of more expensive machines

Best Home Smith Machines Buying Guide

So, now that we have narrowed down the options and introduced you to the very best Smith machines on the market, you may be wondering how you go about choosing the best one for your needs? Read on for everything you need to know to make a smart, confident, and informed decision.

When purchasing your Smith machine, there are a number of considerations you should take into account, and we will explore some of these below.

Build Quality

One of the most important factors likely to have an impact on your decision is the build quality of the machine. You need to ensure that your selection is sturdy and durable and that it can handle heavy weight without becoming damaged, unstable or unsafe.

This will depend largely on the nature of the material that is used in the construction of the frame. Where possible, you should opt for a sturdy, solid steel frame - this will offer you the optimum build quality, as well as better value for money - steel will last a lifetime.

While composite materials are typically cheaper than steel, they tend to be of a lower quality and can be risky when you start adding some serious weight onto the machine. For best results, and to ensure your safety, it is a good idea to opt for steel if your budget allows.

As an aside, it should be noted that not all steel is created equal - the quality of the steel used will be determined by the “gauge”. Lower quality steel - usually around 14-gauges - is unlikely to have the strength and durability that you require, so it is best to opt for 12-gauge, or even 11-gauge if this is possible. In short, “gauge” refers to the thickness of the steel. The lower the number, the thicker the steel, and the thicker the steel, the sturdier the machine.

Weight Capacity

Ultimately, the purpose of any Smith machine is to lift weights, and so this will play a major part in your decision. In the simplest terms, “weight capacity” refers to the ability of the machine to effectively handle the weight, and your decision will ultimately depend on your fitness goals, your current strength, and how much you are wanting to lift in the future.

If you are an experienced lifter, wanting to push yourself to the limits, then it is a good idea to opt for the top end of the scale and find the highest weight capacity that your budget allows. If, however, you are just starting out, this is unlikely to be such a key priority. Instead, you will simply need to ensure that the machine you pick can handle the lower weight you are lifting, allowing you to focus on building strength, technique, and form.

As a rule, most home Smith machines will offer a weight capacity of between 300 to 600 pounds. As we have seen, however, some options far exceed this, and these would be the best option for serious, heavy-duty weightlifters, professionals, or athletes. As a rule, the higher the weight capacity, the more you will pay, and this can also be something you need to bear in mind.

Ease of Movement

When purchasing your machine, you also need to consider the ease and smoothness of the movements - the last thing that you want is a jerky or juddering machine when you are lifting weights.

Not only is this uncomfortable, but it also causes friction. Over time, this causes significant wear and tear on the machine, and can cause degradation of the material, as well as damage. At best, this can result in you needing to replace the whole unit after a short period of time.

In the worst-case scenario, however, the damage can cause the frame to become weak, meaning that it is unable to take the weight. This can result in breakages and, in some cases, injury.

When purchasing your machine, pay attention to how smooth the pulley system is, and how easily you can move and adjust the elements that you need to.

Workout Stations

Not all Smith machines are created equally; some will come with different workout stations to others. Put simply, this refers to the number of accessories and tools that come with the machine which, in turn, determines the variety of exercises and number of different workouts you can carry out. The greater the number of workstations, the more exercises you will be able to perform on a single machine.

Just as with the weight capacity, this is ultimately a personal choice, and will be largely dictated by your fitness goals and aspirations. The more advanced and experienced you are, the greater number of workout stations you will benefit from. Essentially, the more versatile your machine, the more benefits you can expect to enjoy from it.

At the most basic level, you need a machine that aids you in cardio movements and both upper and lower body workouts. Ideally, your chosen option should have a chin-up bar, curl bar, calf raises, straight bar, dip station mount, preacher curl attachment, and leg presses - these will allow you to carry out the majority of basic exercises.

Safety Features

You will also need to consider the best safety features when choosing your Smith machine - lifting weights can be dangerous, so it is crucial to have the right safety mechanisms in place. As a number one priority, you need to ensure that your Smith machine has a safety spotter - this is non-negotiable.

One of the advantages of Smith machines is that they do not require you to have a workout buddy - but this only applies if you have a safety spotter. Depending on your needs, you may also benefit from a range of other safety features in your machine. As we mentioned, the material is another important consideration - opt for steel where possible.

Size and Storage

When it comes to purchasing equipment for your home gym, size is always going to be an important consideration - you need to make sure that you have space to set up your equipment and work out safely.

This is particularly important when it comes to Smith machines, which are typically a little larger than other types of exercise equipment. For context, the top Smith machines on the market typically have weight ranges of between 600 and 800 pounds and have large, bulky frames.

This means that not only do you need to ensure that you have the physical space to store the equipment, but you also need to ensure that you have a floor that can bear the weight. You also need to check that you will have plenty of space to work out on the machine.

Warranty

Warranty is another important element to check - Smith machines tend to be pretty expensive, and this means that you need to ensure that your hard-earned money is put to the best possible use by investing in a quality warranty. In some cases, you may be able to grab a lifetime warranty and if your budget allows, this is the best option.

In most cases, the warranty will be a limited one, typically covering the parts of the machine, and protecting you in the event of failure during standard, everyday use, and the weight loads that the machine is advertised as being able to handle. Take a close look at the warranty - ideally, you will grab one that covers wear and tear.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Smith machine?

The term “Smith machine” refers to an all-in-one home gym solution, which offers the opportunity to carry out a range of exercises on a single unit. Smith machines can be used for both upper and lower body workouts, whole-body exercises, and to target different groups of muscles individually.

Are Smith machines worth it?

Smith machines are a great addition to any home gym, as they offer a comprehensive, full-body workout, while still offering a wide variety of attachments and extra extensions to allow you to target specific muscle groups and body parts.

A Smith machine allows you to perform triceps extensions, bench presses, squats, deadlifts, and a range of other movements, all without having to invest in a separate machine. Though they can be expensive when first purchased, a Smith machine can actually save you money in the long term.

Can beginners use a Smith machine?

Smith machines offer smooth gliding, allowing you to have greater control over your movements and exercises, and this means that they are great for helping beginners to retain good form, and build strength and fitness.

Can I use a Smith machine alone?

Smith machines come with spotters built-in, eliminating the need to have a separate spotter working with you. This means that they can be used alone, allowing you to train at a time and place convenient to you, even if you can’t match your gym buddy’s schedule.

Are Smith machines durable?

Smith machines have a reputation for being amongst the most durable options when it comes to gym equipment. Their structures are large and bulky and typically made of quality steel.

Spending a little more on top-quality material will help to ensure that your investment stands the test of time - steel is usually the best option, and it is a good idea to stay away from composites, as these typically do not offer the same strength and durability.

Will I build muscle with a Smith machine?

Smith machines are super effective at building a range of types of muscles and allow you to target each muscle group individually, as well as the whole body together. With a structured plan and an appropriate diet, you will be able to build muscle quickly and effectively.

Can I use a Smith machine with other equipment?

As long as you remember to have rest days, and have a dedicated, consistent training plan, you will be fine to combine your sessions on a Smith machine with other forms of exercise and equipment.

The most important thing to remember is that your muscles need rest in order to recover, so make sure that they are not working the same muscle groups day in, day out - this can cause tears and long-term damage.

Kevin Harris
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