The 10 best smith machines in 2020

If you have limited home gym space but want a versatile exercise machine, a Smith machine is the way to go. 

A Smith machine allows you to work out without a spotter in total safety. The bar is attached to guide rails and has built-in hooks. If you get stuck in an exercise, you just flick your wrists, and the safety hooks catch the bar. 

There are different styles available, from basic machines to complete self-contained home gyms. With that in mind, this guide will help you choose the best Smith machine for your home gym. Let’s get started!

In a Hurry? Here is our Top Pick:

Quick Answer – The 10 Best Smith Machines

  1. Body-Solid SCB1000 Pro Clubline Counter-Balanced Smith Machine – Best Overall
  2. Marcy Diamond Elite Smith Cage – Best For Beginners
  3. Deltech Fitness DF4900 Linear Bearing Smith Machine – Best Non-Angled Smith Machine
  4. Body-Solid GS348Q Series 7 Smith Machine – Best Angled Smith Machine
  5. Body-Solid Powerline PSM144X Smith Machine – Best Budget Smith Machine
  6. Valor Fitness BE-11 Smith Machine – Best Basic Smith Machine
  7. Yukon Fitness Caribou III – Best Customizable Smith Machine
  8. Force USA Monster G3 Smith Machine, Power Rack, & Functional Trainer – Best Combo Smith Machine
  9. Inspire Fitness FT2 Functional Trainer and Smith Station – Best Weight Stack Smith Machine
  10. MiM USA Compact Smith Machine – Best Space Saving Smith Machine

Reviews – The Best Smith Machines

1. Body-Solid SCB1000 Pro Clubline Counter-Balanced Smith Machine – Best Overall

The Body-Solid SCB1000 Pro Clubline Counter-Balanced Smith Machine is a commercial level Smith that’s a good choice for home use. 

This is a heavy-duty machine that handles up to 1000lbs with a counter-balance within 6 lbs. 

It is designed to provide a fluid, biomechanically correct path of motion. You can do several exercises such as squats, lunges, bench press, overhead press, shrugs, and curls.

There are 16 lockout points, 6 plate storage holders, and an optional bench. Plus, there’s a lifetime warranty on all parts. 

The machine is 84” tall, so you’ll need to make sure you have high enough ceilings. Otherwise, the quality, heavy-duty construction, and features make the Body-Solid SCB1000 Pro Clubline the best overall Smith machine.

PROS

  • Commercial Quality
  • Can Handle Up To 1000 lbs.
  • Features 16 Lock-Out Points

CONS

  • May Be Too Tall For Some Users

2. Marcy Diamond Elite Smith Cage – Best For Beginners

The Marcy Diamond Elite is a self-contained home gym machine made using all-steel construction for strength and durability. This machine provides everything you need for versatile workouts. 

There’s an angled Smith machine, a high-low pulley station, and a pec deck. 

There’s also J-hooks and safety pins on the front for free weights. Add the bench and you get a leg extension/leg curl unit that doubles as an arm machine. 

The Marcy Diamond Elite Smith Cage is a great fit for the serious bodybuilder/athlete that doesn’t have space for individual  pieces of exercise equipment. Everything you need is included with  the cage. 

The Diamond Elite uses an Olympic bar and takes only Olympic plates. 

The downside is that the Smith bar only holds 300 lbs. But the bench can hold up to 600lbs including the user so you could free weight a little more than 300. Not to mention, this is a great machine to get started with. Also, this unit is over 7’, so make sure you have room.

The features and versatility make the Marcy Diamond Elite Smith Cage is the best home gym for beginner bodybuilders and athletes.

PROS 

  • All In One Smith Machine Home Gym 
  • Train In Complete Safety 
  • Space Saving 

CONS

  • 300lbs May Not Be Enough For Some Users

3. Deltech Fitness DF4900 Linear Bearing Smith Machine – Best Non-Angled Smith Machine

The Deltech Fitness DF4900 Linear Bearing Smith Machine is a non-angled linear bearing machine. 

It’s made with 11 & 14 gauge steel tubing and uses 4 linear bearings for smooth, consistent operation.

The DF4900 can handle up to 700lbs. There are 4 rear plate holders for storage and to improve stability by acting as a counter-balance.There’s also a knurled chin-up bar across the front of the machine. 

Optional benches are available, which creates a good press and leg extension/leg curl station. 

Like all Smith machines, the DF4900 is tall, but it is a compact design, especially compared to the all-in-one units. Plus, several available accessories make this an extremely versatile machine. These features make the Deltech Fitness DF4900 the best non-angled Smith machine.

PROS

  • Comes with a pull-up bar
  • Compatible with lat and pec attachments
  • Weight capacity of 700 pounds

CONS

  • Not ideal for heavier weight lifting
  • Weights are not included
  • Compatible attachments sold separately

 

4. Body-Solid GS348Q Series 7 Smith Machine – Best Angled Smith Machine

The Body-Solid GS348Q Series 7 is a combination of Smith machine and free weight center all in one machine. 

It features a heavy-duty all-welded 11 gauge and 12 gauge, 2” x 3”. mainframe. It’s commercial level quality, and it’s set to a 7-degree reversed pitch for natural Smith and free weight movements. 

The Series 7 can do more than 50 exercises in complete safety. There are 20 cross-member lock-out points along the path of motion. For free weight exercises, there’s 17″ extra heavy-duty safety catches on the front of the machine. There are also 6 plate storage posts for stability. 

The downside is that the Series 7 Smith bar can only handle up to 400 lbs. Also, the Series 7 is 83” high, so you’ll want to be sure you have the height. 

Other than that, the features of the Body-Solid GS348Q Series 7 make it the best angled Smith machine.

PROS

  • Made Using 2” x 3” 11 & 12 Gauge Steel
  • Features A Free Weight Center
  • Angled For Natural Movement

CONS

  • May Be Hard For Some Users To Assemble
  • The 400lb Max Load On The Smith Machine May Not Be Enough For All Users

5. Body-Solid Powerline PSM144X Smith Machine – Best Budget Smith Machine

The Body-Solid Powerline PSM144X Smith Machine is a no-frills Smith with no accessories. It is a good choice if you want a basic Smith machine for your home gym. It takes a standard or Olympic bar and plates

It features 12-gauge steel construction with 14 cross-member lock-out points, and uses a Super-Glide nylon bushing system to provide a smooth path of movement. 

There’s also a Dual-Lock Safety Spotter Catch System so you can safely train alone. 

The PSM144X is 80” tall, so you’ll want to make sure your space has enough height. If space is limited, you can add a lat and pec deck attachment. 

All of its features and an excellent price point make the Body-Solid Powerline PSM144X the best budget Smith machine.

PROS

  • Fits In Almost Any Size Home Gym
  • 12 Gauge Steel Construction
  • Features Smooth Bar Movement

CONS

  • Path Of Movement May Be Too Limited On Some Exercises

 

6. Valor Fitness BE-11 Smith Machine – Best Basic Smith Machine

The Valor Fitness BE-11 Smith Machine is manufactured using heavy-duty 4” x 2”, 12-gauge steel for strength. 

There’s also a solid steel bar latch support, and the solid steel bar is knurled for a superior grip. 

The bar slides smoothly on case hardened rods and linear bearings for smooth motion. 

There’s also a 5-degree angle for more natural movement. 

The BE-11 has 4 plate storage pegs for improved stability. The Valor Fitness BE-11 can handle up to 500lbs, and there’s an optional bench for flat and incline pressing exercises. These features make the Valor Fitness BE-11 the best basic Smith machine.

PROS

  • Features Heavy Duty Steel Construction
  • Solid Steel Bar & Latch Support
  • Bar Is Knurled For A Good Grip

CONS

  • 500lbs Max Load May Not Be Enough For Some Users

7. Yukon Fitness Caribou III – Best Customizable Smith Machine

The Yukon Fitness Caribou III Smith Machine is non-angled and includes a free weight center on the front of the machine. There are also 2 J-hooks and safety rods on the front of the machine. 

The Caribou III allows the user to train in complete safety. It has an advanced carriage system that uses Oilite bushings that glide smoothly over solid chrome rods. This provides a piston-like action and locks quickly in the safety catches by a quick flick of the wrists. 

The Caribou III can be turned into a customized home gym with your choice of extra-cost options. These options include a bench with a leg attachment, cable crossover, pec-deck, and dip station. 

There’s also a lat attachment and low footplate for low pulley rows. You can choose the options you want. The only limits are your budget and space. 

The versatility of this machine makes it the best customizable Smith machine.

PROS

  • Can Be Customized The Way You Want It
  • Features A Free Weight Center
  • Can Save A Lot Of Space Depending On Options Purchased 

CONS

  • Can Be Expensive If You Buy A lot Of Accessories

 

8. Force USA Monster G3 Smith Machine, Power Rack, & Functional Trainer – Best Combo Smith Machine

The Force USA Monster G3 is a combination Smith machine, power rack, and cable-pulley functional trainer. 

If space is a concern, this is a great choice. This is an entire gym in one heavy-duty unit. 

The Smith machine is angled for a more natural movement. The power rack features steel construction and includes 2 J-hooks as well as two safety rods. 

The hole spacing uses the Westside Barbell system for serious strength training. The Functional Trainer allows you to do more than 75 different exercises. It features adjustable height positions for leg, chest, back, shoulder, and arm exercises. There’s also band pegs, plate storage, and an optional leg press station. 

The G3 is 87” tall, so you’ll need to be sure your gym has enough height.

PROS

  • Complete Self-Contained Home Gym
  • Angled For Natural Movement
  • Features Heavy Duty Steel Construction

CONS

  • Some Features Are Extra Cost Options

9. Inspire Fitness FT2 Functional Trainer and Smith Station – Best Weight Stack Smith Machine

The Inspire Fitness FT2 Functional Trainer and Smith Station is a commercial-quality home gym. It includes 2-165lb weight stacks, a bench, triceps rope, 2 rubber upper pulley D-handles, and a dual hook straight bar. 

The D-handles adjust to 32 different positions, and there’s a height-adjustable pull-up bar. There’s also an EZ curl bar, ankle strap, two water bottles, multi-function belt, sport handle, 2-5lbs add-on weights, and an exercise book. 

The FT2 features a heavy-duty round and rectangular steel frame. The Smith bar can handle up to 460lbs, and the bench is height-adjustable. 

There’s also a preacher curl, leg extension, and leg curl attachment. You can also get two free weeks of streaming workouts with your purchase. 

The downside is that the FT2 can be as tall as 88”. It can also be expensive. Still, if you have the budget for it, the Inspire Fitness FT2 Functional Trainer and Smith Station is the best weight stack smith machine.

PROS

  • Features Two 165lb Weight Stacks
  • Steel Construction
  • A Complete Self-Contained, Commercial Quality Home Gym

CONS

  • May Be Too Expensive For Some Users

 

10. MiM USA Compact Smith Machine – Best Space Saving Smith Machine

The MiM USA Compact Smith Machine is the ideal choice for a basic Smith machine that needs to fit in a small space. 

This unit is only 76” tall, that’s quite a bit shorter than most of the Smith machines in this guide. 

It features non-angled guide rails and smooth, consistent motion. 

This unit has all the safety of a full-sized Smith machine. It has a sturdy connecting bar across the bottom that doubles as an ab station. 

The MiM USA uses Olympic plates and has rear storage pegs for additional stability. 

The downside to this Smith machine is it will not handle heavy loads, making it best used for fitness or general conditioning. Still, the MiM USA Compact Smith Machine is the best space-saving Smith machine.

PROS

  • Can Fit Almost Anywhere
  • Smooth Consistent Path Of Motion
  • Includes Ab Station

CONS

  • Not Designed For Heavier Loads

Buying Guide – How To Choose The Best Smith Machine?

What Is A Smith Machine?

The Smith Machine was originally invented by Jack LaLanne, the 1950s TV fitness guru. It was refined and mass-produced by Rudy Smith, an executive of Vic Tanny’s gym chain. (1) 

The Smith machine emphasizes safety because the bar attaches to guide rails with multiple safety catches along the range of motion.

There are hooks along the guide rails that attach to the bar. There’s also safety catches at predetermined points, usually every few inches, along the guide rails. 

If you fail in a lift, a simple flick of the wrist racks the weight. You can train reasonably heavy in a Smith Machine, and the safety aspect means you can train alone with no fear of getting stuck. 

Smith Machine Controversy

The downside of a Smith machine is that due to its design, the path of movement is fixed. Stabilizer muscles are necessary to balance the bar in the free weight version of your chosen exercise, and a Smith takes them out of the movement. 

The controversy is that the Smith Machine’s fixed path of movement is thought by some to be unnatural. The critics claim it causes stress on the knees and back when doing squats, and on the shoulders when bench pressing. They say that this increases the chance of injury.

Additionally, because the Smith Machine bar is in a fixed position, it’s thought that there’s no activation of stabilizer muscles. 

One of the reasons compound exercises are effective is they activate several muscle groups including the stabilizers. If you are concerned about full activation, you can supplement the Smith machine with free weights. 

Many of the choices in this guide have a “free weight center” built in. This means that the front rails hold 2 J-hooks and safety rods for free weight exercises. 

Since this is done off the front of the machine, you will want to be sure that there are weight plates on the rear storage pegs to help stability. Still, this gives the user the option to incorporate the best of both in one workout. 

Benefits Of A Smith Machine

Despite the controversy, there are benefits to using a Smith machine: 

Safety – The Smith machine is designed for solo training without the need for a spotter. As noted above, the safety catches are well-positioned along the path of motion. This means that the Smith is a great choice for more intense training techniques. If you fail in a lift, you can rack the bar with no fear of injury. Additionally, since the bar is fixed on sliding rods, there’s no need to stabilize the bar using your own muscles. This may reduce the chances of injury. 

Ease Of Use – Smith Machines can be easier to use than a barbell because they require less skill and technique. For this reason, they’re a good choice for beginners. 

Good For Rehab – The ease of use as noted above makes the Smith machine a good choice for injury rehabilitation. 

Types Of Smith Machines

Angled – Some Smith machines are built with a 5-7 degree angled track. Some feel that the angle provides a more natural range of motion.

Vertical – Some Smith machines are straight up and down with no angle whatsoever. Proponents of this type of Smith machine feel it’s better than an angled Smith as far as natural movement. 

All-In-One – This is the same idea that you can find on some power racks. An all-in-one Smith machine simply means there’s a lot of additional features that turn it into a self-contained home gym. 

What You Should Look For In A Smith Machine

Features – To get the most out of a Smith machine, it should come with a bench. One of the unique advantages of a Smith machine is that you can perform a leg press on it. The leg press is done by lying on the bench and pressing the bar straight up and down. Many Smith machines do not include plates but will come with an attached bar. Some units use weight stacks, but these are not as common as plate-loaded machines. Any additional accessories will depend on the type of Smith machine you want to buy. As noted above, you can buy a completely self-contained home gym, or just a simple piece of equipment to add to your existing gym. The self-contained units can include almost anything, but a lat attachment is typical. They can also include a pec deck, a cable crossover station, a chin-up bar, and a dip station. Many have J-hooks and safety rods on the front of the unit for free weights. Add the accessories that can come with a bench, and a Smith machine can be as simple or elaborate as you want.

Footprint – For the most part, these aren’t big machines, unless you’re buying a large self-contained unit. Height is the main concern as most Smith machines stand around 7’ tall. If space is a problem and you’re trying to squeeze in a self-contained unit, make sure you measure first. It’s a good idea to have walk-around room so you can load plates and simply move a little.  

Bearings – You’ll want a Smith machine that glides smoothly on its guide rails. Linear bearings let the bar move along the path of motion with no jerkiness or uneven feel. 

Straight or Angled – There seems to be a controversy over which type is better, straight or angled. Proponents of both claim their preferred style feels more natural. If possible, try both and see what feels best for you. 

Exercises – Some users wonder if you can deadlift or bench press on a Smith machine. The answer is: yes, you can. You may have to make adjustments, such as standing on a box or bench to get the height for a deadlift. However, you will find the motion to be smooth, and you will also find you can handle more weight. Working the basics such as squats, deadlifts, and bench presses may take a little getting used too. Since the Smith follows a predetermined guided path, the feel will be different. Many users perform the basics using the free weight center that comes on some Smith machines. Then they use the Smith itself for supporting movements. 

Conclusion

A Smith machine can be a good addition to your home gym, or it can be a complete self-contained option if space is limited. As noted above, with a Smith machine you can train in complete safety even if you train alone. Also, there are a lot of options, from a basic machine to units that have a free weight center on the front. If you want more options, there are Smith machines that are packed with so many features, they are a self-contained home gym. This makes them a great choice if your space is limited to a small room or corner of a room. 

The Force USA Monster G3 Smith Machine is our best combo Smith machine as it also includes a power rack and cable-pulley functional trainer. 

Our best overall is the Body-Solid SCB1000 Pro Clubline Counter-Balanced Smith Machine. The SCB1000 is a commercial quality Smith machine that’s strong enough to handle loads up to 1000 lbs. This kind of ruggedness makes it a good choice for your home gym. 

If budget is an issue, the Body-Solid Powerline PSM144X Smith Machine is a basic Smith with no accessories. It’s our best budget Smith machine and it really gives you a lot of bang for your buck. 

As you can see, there are quite a few choices. You can’t go wrong with a Smith machine, so the choice is up to you!

References: 

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smith_machine#Origin_and_history
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