The best home Smith machines should be durable, smooth operating, and backed by a generous warranty.
I guess I could say the same about pretty much any home fitness equipment- but it’s especially true when you’re talking about an attached barbell system.
The last thing you want is for your Smith bar to stick or get stuck during a workout. I can guarantee that’s a great way to ruin your day.
Not to mention the safety hazards that causes.
But don’t worry, I’m here to make sure that doesn’t happen.
This guide will walk you through all the stuff you need to know to find the right Smith machine for your home gym.
We’ll go through all the basics as well as the specs you should prioritize to ensure your Smith machine is a winner.
I’ll also present my top picks for the year based on that same criteria.
|Linear Bearings?||Rackable Capacity||Warranty||Attachments||Price|
|#1 Body-Solid Pro Clubline||Yes||1000 lb||Lifetime everything||No||$$$|
|#2 Force USA G9||Yes||772 lb||Lifetime frame|
2 year cable/pulleys
90 day wear items
|#3 Inspire Fitness Ft2||Yes||n/a||Lifetime everything||Yes||$$$$|
|#4 Body-Solid Series 7||Yes||600 lb||Lifetime everything||Yes||$$|
|#5 Marcy Diamond Elite||Yes||300 lb||2-year frame||Yes||$$|
How To Buy A Smith Machine The Smart Way
Adding a Smith machine can elevate your home gym to a whole new level.
A dumbbell set and a bench can get the job done, but bringing one of these bad boys into the equation can really step up your workout game.
Powerlifting moves like squats, bench press, and deadlifts now become doable.
Not only will you add significantly to your workout repertoire, but you can do them safely and with peace of mind.
Well, if the machine you bring into your home gym actually works that is.
Believe it or not, not all Smith machines are built equal.
I know, you’re shocked.
But keep a discerning eye on the following specs and features and you’ll be a lot more likely to be happy with your purchase.
The most important thing a Smith machine has to do is move smoothly.
No matter what other features and gizmos it may have attached to it, the simple fact is that if the barbell doesn’t travel smoothly, you’re not going to be happy.
We all want a home Smith machine that feels like the one we’ve used before in the local gym. Am I wrong?
I don’t want to burst your bubble too early on here, but the only way you’re gonna get a Smith machine that feels just like the one at Gold’s is to buy a commercial grade unit.
But that’s not what we’re discussing here, we’re talking about home models.
The only way you’re going to get close to replicating that gym-like feel is to get yourself a home machine that uses a linear bearing system.
Linear bearings are basically a series of ball bearings that connect the barbell to the supporting bar.
These ball bearings enable the barbell to slide freely across the vertical support bars, giving you the smooth operating Smith machine you’ve been looking for.
I’m no engineer, but I know ball bearings are a good thing when it comes to reducing friction between surfaces.
Please know that not all home Smith machines come with linear bearings.
They are usually only found on the higher-end models. I can almost guarantee you won’t find linear bearings on any Smith machine costing less than $700.
The alternative system is referred to as a bushing system.
Smith bars that use this mechanism will not slide as smoothly and can get stuck if they aren’t lubricated effectively.
Not all machines come with the same max weight capacity either (the amount of weight you can safely put on the bar).
If you plan on lifting some serious weight, this is one spec you need to pay special attention to.
Most home machines have a weight limit somewhere between 300 – 1000 lb. I wouldn’t recommend purchasing any Smith machine with a weight limit under 300 lb.
Weight capacity is directly related to durability and quality of construction.
Machines with a more stable frame are going to be able to handle more weight safely.
Smith machines should be constructed with heavy-duty frames, often from 11 or 12 gauge steel (the gauge number refers to the thickness of the steel and the lower the gauge, the thicker the metal).
Commercial machines have heavier-duty components than home models, but a 1000 lb limit should do the trick for most of us out there.
I’m a stickler for warranties, I think they should be considered with all fitness equipment purchases. Smith machines are no different.
The warranties on these units will vary greatly. Longer is better of course. The great warranties out there will offer lifetime on everything.
The less than stellar warranties might be a year or two on the frame.
By the way, Smith machine warranties are often divided into frame and moving parts.
Depending on what your needs are, you can go with a Smith machine that is loaded with additional attachments, giving you a fully functional home gym system.
Common attachments include:
- Lat pulldown
- Pec deck
- Preacher curl
- Leg developer
- Adjustable bench
- Weight stacks
- Pull up bar
- Dip station
Most manufacturers will offer their Smith machine as a part of several different packages, each including the base machine with different attachments included.
The more attachments you get, the higher the price (usually).
If you aren’t interested in all the extras (and the extra cost that comes with them), you can opt for a simple machine without any attachments included.
You’ll probably save some money by doing so- there are several great options included on this list.
Olympic vs Standard Plates
The type of weight plates you’ll be using is something you should consider too while you’re comparing models.
Higher-end Smith machines tend to use Olympic plates because they’re the gold standard for weight lifting.
Budget machines tend to use standard plates.
If you wondering what the difference is, it has to do with the size of the hole in the middle: standard weight plates have a 1″ diameter hole and Olympic plates have a 2″ diameter hole.
You need to keep an eye on this because the barbell itself will be a different size too.
Barbells designed for Olympic plates have larger ends to fit the 2″ opening and vice versa.
There are Olympic adapter kits you can get that converts a standard bar to an Olympic bar (larger end that slides on the end of the standard bar).
Some Smith machines come with these, others don’t.
A lot of the commercial grade machines are counter balanced, which means there’s a pulley system built in that effectively reduces the weight of the bar.
This comes in handy if you ever need very low resistance for an exercise.
Most home Smith machines are not counter balanced. Although a few models offer this feature as an add-on that is purchased separately.
If you want a counter balanced machine, you’re likely looking at a more expensive price tag.
Plates vs Stack
I wanna say that like 90% of Smith machines out there use weight plates. This is what we all think of when we think of these classic machines.
Although there are some out there though that use weight stacks for resistance.
As odd as this may sound, it does have its advantages.
With a weight stack, the resistance is built-into the machine. You don’t have to buy plates separately or worry about having to store them somewhere.
You also don’t have to worry about putting plates on and pulling them off, you can simply push a pin into the stack to select your resistance.
These models are usually a Smith machine/functional trainer hybrid.
One of these systems made it onto my list here as you’ll see down below.
I highly doubt price is the last factor you’d consider when purchasing a Smith machine, but on this list it’s probably the least important.
That’s because the other features above will dictate which price range your preferred machine will fall in.
Luckily, most of the top models won’t completely destroy your budget.
I mentioned earlier that you really can’t find a linear bearing Smith machine for under $700. That means the price range for the best machines is $700 and up.
Depending on how many extra features and attachments you want, you can easily drop $4000 on a Smith machine system – this would likely be for a complete gym system though with all the trimmings.
The cheapest Smith machine I’ve come across is around $400- it didn’t make this list, but it does have some redeeming qualities.
Most of the best machines (the ones on this list) will run you somewhere in the $800 – $1000 range.
The 5 Best Home Smith Machines Of 2023
#1 Body-Solid Pro ClubLine Counter-Balanced Smith Machine
Yeah, that name’s a real mouthful, but that’s really the only flaw this machine has.
As the name implies, there’s a lot of good stuff going on here.
Body-Solid is one of the premiere home fitness brands when it comes to strength training gear and they’ve got a ton of gyms and racks to choose from.
The Pro ClubLine is one of their highest-end Smith machines to date.
This gym is constructed out of 11-gauge steel, giving it an impressive 1,000 lb weight limit, allowing it to hang with even the most gifted weight lifters out there.
The Pro ClubLine does come with bearings for smooth bar action and as the name implies, the bar’s also counterbalanced for even smoother operation.
The counterbalances are hidden by the metal shrouds for a seamless look too, which is nice.
This is an Olympic system designed to be used with Olympic plates and it comes with 6 weight storage pegs.
There aren’t really any other compatible attachments for the ClubLine – this is just a Smith machine through and through.
But with a lifetime residential guarantee on everything from top to bottom, you can rest assured your rack will last (it also comes with a generous commercial warranty).
Overall, if you’re looking for a commercial grade Smith machine that’s priced effectively for home use, Body-Solid’s Pro ClubLine is about as good as it gets.
#2 Force USA G9 All-In-One Trainer
Force USA is known for their all-in-one trainers and when they say “all-in-one”, they really mean it.
They offer several models to choose from at different price points, but I think the G9 is one of their better deals.
This beast of a gym combines the functions of a Smith machine, a power rack, and a functional trainer all into a single, fairly compact piece of equipment.
This’ll be a lot more gym than the folks simply looking for a Smith machine will need, but if you’re looking to maximize exercise variety with as few pieces of equipment as possible, it could make sense.
The Smith machine on the G9 comes with ball bearings and is counterbalanced for fluid bar movement.
The frame of the G9 is constructed out of 12-gauge steel I believe, so not quite as heavy-duty as the Pro ClubLine mentioned above.
But the G9’s Smith machine still comes with a max rackable capacity of 772 lb, which is more than enough for the lot of us.
Unlike the Pro Clubline though, the G9 comes with a boatload of attachments and handles – we’re talking pull up bars, landmine stations, dip handles, leg press attachments, and a whole lot more.
Oh yeah, there’s also the functional trainer (plate loaded) and power rack stations.
Force USA even backs the G9 with a legit home warranty: lifetime frame, 2 year cable/pulleys, 90 day wear items.
Overall, if you’re looking for a Smith machine that can function as an entire home gym system, the G9 is a very smart choice. See full review.
#3 Inspire Fitness Ft2 Functional Trainer
I’m not sure it’s completely fair to compare this functional trainer to the 2 classic Smith machines mentioned above, but I’ll do it anyway.
After all, this is also a Smith machine, and one of the best on the market today.
And the Ft2 has got a whole lot more to offer than just being a simple Smith machine (not that there’s anything wrong with that).
That’s because this is a functional trainer too- a dual weight stack system that functions as a complete, stand alone home gym.
It also happens to have a Smith machine built into it.
But this Smith mechanism is different than every other model on this list- this one uses dual weight stacks for the resistance instead of plates.
It too is built with a commercial grade frame and utilizes steel ball bearings to ensure smooth operation – the Smith bar also has built-in safeties and bar locks like any other machine.
The Ft2 basically gives you all the advantages of a traditional Smith machine and adds the ability to perform all kinds of other exercises with the multiple pulley systems and attachments (like 10 or so attachments to be exact).
Each weight stack is 165 lb, but the Smith bar can utilize an additional pulley attachment that doubles the resistance of each stack.
You can also buy 2 additional 50 lb stacks for extra resistance, giving the Smith bar a max resistance of 460 lb.
To make things a little sweeter, Inspire Fitness gave the Ft2 a lifetime warranty on everything- frame, moving parts, hardware.
The Inspire Fitness Ft2 Functional Trainer is a home gym like no other. The integration of the Smith machine with the weight stack system is quite unique.
It doesn’t come cheap, but if you decide to purchase, it’ll be the only piece of strengthening equipment your gym ever needs. See full review.
#4 Body Solid Series 7 Smith Machine
The Body Solid Series 7 is another classic plate Smith machine with a few added attachments to give you more of a full home gym feel.
If you don’t want the attachments, you can also get this machine stripped down for a lower price- the Smith mechanism itself is the same and still works great.
The Series 7 comes with a frame built out of 11 and 12 gauge steel.
The sturdy construction allows this gym to safely handle weights up to 600 lb.
Not quite as robust as some of the other machines mentioned already, but still probably plenty for most of us out there.
This Smith machine also comes standard with a linear bearing system. The Series 7 use Olympic plates and comes with 6 storage pegs for easy weight organization.
One of the biggest perks of this system is that it can also function as a power rack. If you’re unfamiliar, it’s basically a rack that allows you to do free barbell exercises.
This system doesn’t include the free weight barbell, but you can use your own to do free weight exercises as well as Smith machine moves.
A great bonus.
There are a few different packages available to choose from (with a bench or lat pulldown station, etc), but you can always get the Smith machine first and add on as needed in the future.
I also love the fact that this gym comes with a lifetime warranty on everything for residential use (it’s also warranted for light commercial use).
If you’re looking for a solid Smith machine with several attachment options, the Body Solid Series 7 is a smart choice. It’s built strong and backed by a great warranty. See full review.
#5 Marcy Diamond Elite Smith System
Finishing up our list is the Marcy Diamond Elite.
This is another home gym type unit that comes with several attachments and some pulleys.
It’s a very popular gym because of its extensive offering of exercise options as well as its reasonable asking price.
It just so happens to have a Smith machine as well.
This gym has a solidly built steel frame (based on the price, we’re probably talking 14-gauge).
This machine has the lowest weight capacity of the bunch at only 300 lb (on the bar), so this gym wouldn’t be appropriate for heavy lifters, but it should work just fine for the rest of us.
The Smith bar does come with linear bearings- which isn’t a guarantee at this price range.
The Marcy Diamond Elite comes with the following included attachments: adjustable bench, preacher curl station, leg developer, pec deck, and dual upper pulleys (great for cable crossovers).
FYI- there isn’t a weight stack here, so you have to use plates for all the pulley exercises.
The outside of the frame also doubles as a power rack, a nice bonus in case you don’t always want to use the Smith bar.
The Smith bar is compatible with Olympic plates and the frame comes with 6 built-in storage pegs.
Marcy backs this rig up with a 2 year frame warranty. This isn’t the greatest warranty in the world, but users are generally satisfied with the quality of construction on this machine.
Overall, the Diamond Elite is a budget friendly Smith machine home gym with plenty of perks. It’s far from perfect, but for the price it’s hard to find a more complete home gym system. See full review.
Well, that about does it for this year’s top Smith machines.
I know there are plenty of old school lifters out there that look down on these machines, but I love ’em.
Smith machines are versatile pieces of equipment that can help you perform a wide range of strengthening exercises safely.
The attached barbell system with its ability to be locked out every few inches is like having a built-in spotter for every exercise you do.
Which is a great perk for those who are usually working out by themselves.
While they were once restricted to commercial use, these days there are plenty of home Smith machines to choose from. This is good for us, because it gives us options to look at.
But we need to make sure we are choosing wisely.
When comparing Smith machines, I suggest you consider the following:
- Linear bearings?
- Weight capacity
- Available attachments
- Olympic vs standard plates
Tracking these specs will help you find the best Smith machine for your needs.
These are the same criteria I used to develop this list, but in case you don’t see the right option for you here, you should now feel more confident in your search.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns (or know of any Smith machines that should’ve made the list), just leave me a comment and I’ll get right back to ya.