Smith machines are genuinely useful, but only if you know what you’re buying and why. Like with all home gym equipment, you have to put together a solid ‘use case’ to help you choose the right Smith machine.
In this article I’m going to give you the benefit of my years of experience as a gym owner to help you identify exactly what you’re looking for and which will be the best Smith machines for your home gym.
Here’s my opinion on the 3 best ones depending on your use case…
If you’re looking for a fantastic Smith Machine, at an affordable price, this one from Titan is the one you want.
If you have a well-stocked gym, I’d cut straight to the chase and go with this one. You don’t need to spend the extra money on anything more complicated than this.
It’s a solid and effective machine; It’ll allow you to do a huge amount of exercise and thanks to resistance band pegs, and it allows you to adjust the force curve of your exercises. With a max weight capacity of 600LB, this is a serious bit of gear.
Let me explain…
Even if you cast aside the huge exercise variety available on the machine, it’s also a functional item – it stores weight plates (which can be an issue in home gyms), so it saves you money on non-productive equipment.
The simple nature of it means it’s much smaller than some of the other Smith machines on the market (86” tall, 66.5” wide and 54” deep). Despite this it still offers all of the functionality you need, plus space to store weight plates on it’s six 8-inch olympic weight plate holders.
Now let’s talk about the bart path.
The bar path is ideal for a range of movements and it has a particularly smooth action. This can dramatically change the user experience of a Smith machine – a bar that doesn’t slide well is infuriating and can literally ruin a workout.
So is this option best for your needs?
If you don’t need your Smith machine to be a multi-gym, go with this one. It’ll save you a lot of money, it’s super well built , offers you a huge amount of exercise versatility. Just be willing to accept that there’s no pull up bar and additional attachments – those come at a higher price point.
Other factors in support of the Titan Smith machine is that it’s really easy to assemble, which is a MASSIVE plus point. The fancier you get, the more complex the set up is. That’s not an issue here at all, even the most limited DIY’er will cope with it easily enough.
The other plus for the Titan is the shipping.
It’s always free shipping and is guaranteed within a week. In fact, it’s often way less time than that – in some cases it can be as short as a 2 day delivery.
If you’re looking for an excellent Smith Machine at a great price, this is the one I’d go with. If you’re looking for something with more features, I’d move on to our 2nd option on the list.
It’s loved by the community…
If your Smith machine is an addition to a home gym, rather than the centerpiece, this is the one from Titan is the one to go for. It’s the cheapest of the three, is well-built and doesn’t take up much space. As long as you don’t need the Smith machine to be a multigym, I’d urge you to go for this one. It’s a commercial grade Smith machine at home gym prices and I can’t give it any higher praise than that. It’s simple and effective – exactly what the home gym user needs.
If you’re short on space and need your Smith machine to be a multigym, this is a superb option. It comes in at less than $2k – you might think it’s more money than the Titan, so why am I describing it as a good choice for a tight budget?
Simple – it’s an all-in-one solution. I suggested the Titan as an addition to an already well-equipped gym.
As an all-in-one gym you have the ability to do endless workout varieties.
You’ve got attachments that allow you to perform a whole-body bodybuilding style workout, rehab workouts, weightlifting workouts, powerlifting workouts etc. When I say it’s an all-in-one gym, I really mean it!
You won’t run out of training options or be left bored with this thing!
It’s 75 exercises in one, comes complete with 12 attachments and even a free bench, so in terms of value for money it’s hard to beat. It’s pretty big (80 in (W) x 55 in (D) x 87 in (H)), but much smaller than if you had separate stations for other exercises.
If you want to extend the functionality even further, there are additional attachments you can buy for the machine. These include…
This takes the machine to another level again, but bear in mind you’ll be paying extra for that.
The Force USA G3 is really well-constructed. The max weight for the bar is 772LB – highest in test. The rack itself will cope with 992LB and the pull up bar will also manage up to 772LB of weight. The pulleys are load tested to 2000lbs, so unless you’re a legit gorilla I wouldn’t worry about the upper limits of the machine.
There are J-Hooks and safeties so you can use your own barbell if you like – a really awesome feature. They come with Westside hole spacing, making this a legit rack as well as a Smith machine. The band pegs at the bottom also raise the functionality.
Just bear in mind that this will be a more difficult set up than the simple Titan Smith machine. The price of more functionality is additional cables, screws, attachments, pulleys etc!
If you buy this you have to construct it yourself – if you can’t, it’s a $549.99 fee for pro installation. Factor that into your overall costs – it shouldn’t be a deal breaker (even with the fee I think it represents solid value), but you can’t overlook it.
You’re going to pay decent money for this, but what you’re buying is an excellent machine. It’s solid, versatile and takes the place of dozens of items. It’s overkill if you only need a Smith machine, but if you want something more, it’s very hard to beat.
It’s a real market leader…
As far as versatility goes, the Force USA G3 takes some beating. It’s a Smith machine, a power rack, a squat rack and a multigym in one. It’s well built, it takes a huge weight load and offers a lot of exercise variety. The only concern I have about it is the installation – if you can’t do it yourself it’s a $550 fee you have to cough up, and that’s some serious cash.
When reviewing these machines I’m looking across a wide range of criteria – you can’t accurately judge equipment across one or two categories because it doesn’t give you a whole picture.
The Marcy Smith machine is a classic example. On face value there’s a lot of perceived negatives… It has the lowest weight limit of the machines reviewed. It’s the most expensive. It’s the biggest. So why do I rate it highly?
It has the most versatility. It too is a squat/power rack (although it won’t suit the strongest guys because of the 300LB weight limit). It has a fantastic, versatile bench included in the package without charge. The Marcy bench is adjustable from upright down to decline, plus it has a preacher bench and leg hooks for abdominal work. The bench on its own is a legit item.
The Marcy Smith machine also has the back pad that makes the pec deck a proper exercise. The foot plates make the row effective and the pull up bar is good quality. The dip bars work effectively. The landmine is a great addition. Overall, the range of attachments make for a really useful home gym. It’s large (70” L x 84” W x 86” H), but it negates the need for lots of additional equipment.
The downside of the Marcy is the price – it’s an expensive item at a smidge over three grand, but it does replace a LOT of other items. If you’re new to training, you lack space, or you want a home gym style machine, this is a great choice.
You just need to put it together yourself, which will take 8-10 hours for most people. You don’t have an option to call in guys from Marcy to do it for an additional price. It’s down to you, so bear this in mind if it’s beyond your capability.
If you’re a serious lifter then the low weight limit may be a factor against ownership. 300LB on a bar sounds like a lot, but for a legit lifter it’s really not that much. Great for the generalist, not ideal for the specialist.
The Marcy is one of the most popular Smith machines on Amazon…
The Marcy Smith machine is ideal for those who want a truly versatile home gym. It’s not as good of a power rack as the Force USA G3, but it comes with a better bench and more functional multi-gym element. If you’ve got the budget and don’t mind setting the machine up yourself, this will provide you with a really functional Smith machine and home gym.
When you think of the exercises you’d do on a Smith machine you probably start thinking of squats and presses, but you’re literally only scratching the surface of what a Smith machine is capable of with those – in fact I wouldn’t even squat in a Smith machine (there are better squatting options). There are so many different exercises that the Smith machine offers.
The bar can be used for push ups and various versions of rows. It’s an ideal way to regress pull ups. It can be used for split squats and leg presses. It’s a great tool for single arm work as well – seated Smith machine shoulder presses and bench presses are all possible and are an excellent way to work on uni-lateral strength imbalances.
Here’s a few exercise ideas for Smith machines…
Smith machines are no different to any other home gym equipment in the sense that you have to ask yourself what you need rather than what you want. If you have lots of space and money, you can take your pick of the entire market. Failing that, here’s what you need to consider…
Arguably the most important point of all, because any other feature is irrelevant if you can’t afford it. Be prepared to pay between $1400 and $3500. Most machines are available in this range.
Are you looking for something compact, or is space not so much of an issue? Most Smith machines will need a minimum of 7 feet of width and 5 feet of depth, but you’d be better off with more. They’re also tall – a full rack can be over 7 feet. You’ll need to factor that into a room before you buy, because it’s a fixed variable – you can’t always create more space.
Is it an addition to a full home gym, or is it going to be your home gym? At their most basic, Smith machines are essentially a rack with a fixed-path barbell and spotter pins. At the top end of the market, Smith machines are a home multi-gym. Decide on your use case and that’ll help you make a decision on what you need.
Build quality is key – check the weight capacity. As a general rule, the higher the weight capacity, the better the build quality. Then there’s the smoothness of the machine – does the bar run smoothly, because that will affect the user experience?
If you’re buying a Smith machine to be a more all-round home gym, look at the accessories – there’s excellent value in the range of accessories you can use with the Smith machine. They can transform the versatility of the machine, making it much better value than some of its rivals.
Simply put, yes.
Smith machines are great for home gyms because they offer lots of exercise options. This means you won’t have to buy all kinds of additional equipment if you don’t have the space or budget.
They’re also a way to allow you to safely lift to failure. A Smith machine has a self-locking barbell so it allows you to lift to failure without the need for a spotter. If you train alone this is a huge benefit for those strength sessions where training to failure is the aim.
Smith machines are adjustable, suiting a range of sizes and exercises. If multiple family members are using the home gym, it’s suitable for all of you. The safety spotter pins on the side of the machine are set in lots of positions, so it’ll fit lifters of most sizes, tall or short.
Finally, a Smith machine doesn’t take up a huge amount of room. It’s a large single item of equipment, but it’s smaller than if you were to buy a squat rack, weight plate stands, barbell stands etc. It’s a whole gym on its own!
Here’s my thoughts on the best machines again…
I know Smith machines have taken a lot of criticism over the years, but not all of it is fair. If you ask most coaches what they think of a Smith machine and they’ll probably throw some cheap shots about how they’re no good for squatting, but that misses the point of a Smith machine.
You can’t judge an entire item of equipment on how good it is for one exercise – that’s like saying because a barbell is terrible because it’s not a great skipping rope.
Smith machines, like our #1 option from Titan, offer a huge range of versatility at a reasonable price point and don’t take up much room, relative to the amount of exercise options they provide. Win-win in my eyes.