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Smith machines sometimes get a bad rap from people who don’t really understand what they’re talking about, but have heard other people (who also don’t know what they’re talking about) say disparaging things about them. It’s just a silly, vicious cycle.
These machines have plenty of different purposes and help meet many needs that most pieces of equipment can’t or can’t do as well.
If you don’t already know what a smith machine is, it’s a contraption that features a fixed barbell within steel rails that only allow said barbell to move vertically, both up and down. You can do exercises such as bench press with it, squats, shoulder press, etc. Many of the standard exercises can be used on this machine.
The main advantage to smith machines is safety. They are far, far safer than doing normal barbell exercises, especially if you don’t have the luxury of a spotter to help you out.
With a standard barbell, it could easily slip out of your hands mid-rep during bench press and fall on to your neck and chest or even your face. With a smith machine, there are safety measures in place that prevent the bar from falling below a certain point and as it’s on rails, it can only move in one plane of motion. No worrying about the bar falling forwards or backwards when doing shoulder presses in one of those.
Best Smith Machines Reviewed
Another advantage is that they allow you to isolate certain muscles better than normal barbells as well as take the pressure off of your supporting muscles. If you’ve got a lagging muscle group this can be handy, as well as if you have a sore/injured muscle that you want to avoid working and aggravating.
Marcy Diamond Elite Smith System
Smith machines are great but they can take up a lot of space. If you want a smith machine but want additional pieces of equipment for your home gym as well, this Smith system from Marcy may be right up your street.
In addition to the smith machine, it comes complete with a full bench so you can do both smith machine bench presses and ordinary barbell bench presses. There’s a built-in preacher curl station that can be used with plates as a machine, cable functionality, leg machines, and even flyes.
This is in absolutely excellent first purchase when starting a home gym as it covers so many bases in just one product. With the Marcy name, you can expect the highest possible quality too.
Deltech Fitness Linear Bearing Smith Machine
This is a more no-frills, no-excess smith machine. The kind of thing you’d expect to see sitting in the corner of a more serious weightlifting gym. It’s taken some serious punishment over the years and it will continue to do so for years to come without showing any wear-and-tear.
Function and stability are the main design principles with this smith machine and the bar can carry up to 700 pounds of weight. Perfect for exercises such as super-heavy shrugs. There are also weight plate supports at the rear of machine to hold all of that mammoth weight when not in use.
It has adjustable safety pins on the front of the machine that can be lowered, raised or removed completely and the bar itself can be hooked in quickly by gently but firmly rotating your wrists. Incredibly safe and secure.
Valor Fitness BE-11 Smith Machine
Like the model from Deltech, this is another no-frills machine. Valor Fitness have put everything they have in to creating the toughest, most durable and most effective smith machine possible, rather than including additional pieces half-heartedly, like some companies not included on our list often do.
Valor Fitness have paid specific attention to creating the smoothest possible bar movement. The bar moves up and down the machine as effortlessly as possible and only becomes tougher with added weight. No jerky movements or the bar getting caught or trapped mid-movement.
The bar itself features knurled grips to make the machine even safer, so you can quickly lock the bar into place in emergencies without hurting yourself.
There are even shock-absorbers just above the safety pins to take the brunt of the force in case you lose control of the bar.
Powerline PSM1442XS Smith Machine Package
This is another example of smith machine/home gym stations done right! It’s rare that companies can truly pull this off but our list has three of them!
The problem with companies taking on excess stations for the sake of it, or to rack up the prices, is that a lot of the time the cable operated machines are jerky. But not with this package from Powerline.
The lat-pull down station, row station and pec station all operate as smooth and sleek as you would expect a single, dedicated machine to perform in an expensive commercial gym. The fluidity of motion is near-identical, which is incredible for the price.
The smith machine portion of the package itself has also received the same eye for detail and features a smooth up and down motion that feels natural when you’re lifting.
Unlike many products, this smith machine actually comes with a weight stack so you can chuck some plates on the bar and be working out the moment you set it up.
Marcy 5276 Smith Machine
And here is another excellent product from Marcy, which is no surprise if you’ve ever bought or used any of their products before.
This smith machine comes complete with a fully adjustable bench so you can get everything just the way you need it to be. You can adjust the height, the angle and even the angle of the seat portion itself on this bench.
A nice little feature is an added dip-station which hangs off the side and a pull-up bar at the top of the frame. You can do all kinds of circuit-training workouts here, all inside only one station.
The heavy-duty tubular steel construction allows this machine to be as strong and resilient as it can possibly be.
With the above-mentioned smith machines, there is absolutely no doubt that you will be able to get the best, most complete workouts with only one purchase.
All the machines listed above are incredibly strong and tough and will stand the test of time.