I was about 45 lbs overweight when I started to build my own gym at home. Nothing fancy and complicated at first as I didn’t have plenty of space but enough for a treadmill with a bit of room left for other equipment.
When I dropped the first 25 lbs, I started to struggle with losing the last 20. I was on and off -5 and +5, and it just wouldn’t stay down. That’s when I started to slowly but surely incorporate some weight lifting into my regimen besides cardio. True enough, I started shedding more weight and I felt stronger and also more toned.
But I was only using dumbbells and small barbells back then. I couldn’t lift heavier stuff as I was also fearful cause I know I need a spotter for heavier weight. So I visited the nearest gym club, got a free day pass just to check out some weight lifting machine options. And that’s when the gym instructor recommended that I try the smith machine.
I was blown away at how the smith machine can target a lot of my body parts at the same time. The instructor was only watching from afar as I needed minimal support and no spotter was needed at all actually. When I got home, I started researching the best smith machines for home use.
I knew I needed to lose the extra pounds but I also needed to tone up and strengthen my muscles. I have a bit of space left beside my treadmill where I can easily place a regular smith machine. To help me with my weight loss journey, I need a great smith machine that I can maximize to help reach my goals.
So I came up with this list which aims to help you, who would like to do it in the comfort of your own home. Hopefully, you find these reviews on smith machines helpful as I’ve come across them in my research.
Best Smith Machines For Home Use Compared and Reviewed
#1 - FORCE USA Monster G3 Power Rack Smith Machine
FORCE USA claims to be a manufacturer of the ‘best value strength equipment’ for home use and this will be seen through their line of Monster Racks. Currently, there are four kinds of Monster racks but the G3 Power Rack is deemed to be the most popular and versatile out of all the designs.
It will take one full feature to list down all of the things that you can do with the G3 Power Rack, but what I can tell you now is that it has the 5 of the major exercise stations you see in the gym right at the comfort of your home.
It has Power Rack, Functional Trainers with different cable and accessories for a wide range of movements, the Smith Machine itself, a Chin-Up station, and a core trainer or landmine station complete with a handle.
All of these stations are packed in a tiny space which would supposedly take up 3 stations if you’re at the gym. Imagine having this G3 smith machine in your garage or one of the rooms in your house. It wouldn’t be an eyesore of a monstrosity. There are hundreds of variations you can do on this machine and still have more to spare.
Despite what it offers, it still lacks some of the features most fitness enthusiasts will like a dip attachment or simply the footplate for cable low rows (which are included in the other G-series models). If you can overlook these, I would definitely recommend the Monster G3 smith machine for weightlifting and fitness enthusiasts who want to save some bucks from opting for a gym membership and just have their own gym at home.
#2 - MiM USA Hercules 1001
Not vying very far from the FORCE USA’s Monster G3 is the MiM USA Hercules 1001— also one to offer the most comprehensive and complete work out stations for your home, the Hercules 1001 comes with a full set of accessories for all functional training: sit up accessories, straight and knurl bars, crossover handles, push bars, and a lot more.
This smith machine can take it with an 800-pound weight capacity. I like that they took the design up a notch with red and black upholstery that matches the black and chrome colors of the bars. A nice to have especially when the aesthetics of gym sets are often overlooked.
Although the Hercules 1001 only has a combination of the smith machine and functional trainers, it can still offer a variety of workouts which will surely keep your heart beating fast while keeping your glutes, upper body, and every fiber of your muscle throbbing for a very long time.
Another thing I like about this product is it’s very easy to assemble. That’s a major plus for me and for anyone reading who’s really not into the tinkering and assembling.
#3 - Inspire Fitness Ft2 Functional Trainer and Smith Machine
The Inspire Fitness Ft2 can be used in both home gyms and commercial use as it boasts of commercial quality frames and materials. As one of the more premium home gym equipment brands, this functional trainer and smith machine station is favored by fitness enthusiasts who are planning to build their own gyms.
I really love the construction on this set, just by looking at it, you’d know that there was a lot of thought given to the materials. Its frames are made of round 11ga steel tubes, while bars are coated with anti-rust and anti-scratch powder that gives it a smooth finish.
Pulleys are made of fiberglass nylon and bearings from steel.
This set is also a bit taller than most of the sets in this list at 88 inches cage height. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or bad thing but taller people would appreciate this fact. As it is built with the full metal and commercial-quality framing, this machine weighs a whopping 500 lbs once completely assembled. Despite this, it’s weight capacity is only 300 lbs.
You’ll get a multifunctional belt for a variety of movements, curl and straight bar, ankle cuff, tricep ropes, and some addons for weights once you purchase this product. You can perform about 40 exercises in this machine which will work out your whole body.
The one thing I like about this smith machine is because it’s one of the old time favorites at the gym, we’ve all started our Journey using the ropes (And still use them to do this day) but I guess it’s a bit nostalgic to have one of these sitting in your home gym as well.
#4 - Valor Fitness BE-11 Smith Machine
If I can describe the Valor Fitness BE 11 Smith machine in a phrase it would be a basic, heavy-duty smith machine. This one doesn’t have the complications of assembling as it comes straightforwardly as it is: a smith machine.
But I couldn’t underestimate this just because of all the things it lacks compared to the other fitness systems on the list. This machine can carry 1000 lbs or more easily (closest contender is MiM’s). It’s built with thick steel and bolts that will last a lifetime even under unfavorable conditions.
These days smith machines are taking the term across more than just the original inception which is what you’re seeing here so don’t be too alarmed if you’re seeing the phrase used regularly across all hydraulic machines.
As simple as this machine sounds, you’ll find a knurl bar included with the purchase. This will allow you to do some chin-ups and pull-ups if you’re not weightlifting. If you are weightlifting, then this machine will be able to help you progress in that aspect of fitness.
One safety feature that I like about BE-11 is its counterbalance. You’d never need a spotter on this. This is my preferred route of training when I’m doing squats these days, because these smith machines really protect your knees and maintain your form.
My Number One Pick
How Do You Choose Which Smith Machines Are Right For You?
Smith machines can be overwhelming. I know the feeling, I came from doing mostly cardio to lose the weight and when you’re presented with a gym set for the first time, you think: what is this contraption?
When you finally understand what the bits and pieces are for, that’s when you can actually start looking for a home gym to purchase. And when you do, it’s not just about buying the most expensive one thinking that must be the best quality. There are some things you need to consider, and I hope this will help you purchase the best one for you:
Consider Your Goals and Exercise Plan
Different smith machines offer different exercises. Before even starting to look for any machine, you have to be clear about what you want to do. In my case, I wanted to add some functional training and weightlifting to my regimen in order to optimize my workouts for weight loss. So I would consider getting the Monster G3 or the FT2.
Had I wanted to include some bench routines in my workout, I would opt for the Weider Pro. But if I was looking to up my weightlifting regimen, then I would stick to Valor’s BE-11. This will tell you that there are certain machines to meet your requirements, be clear on what you want to do first, so you can pick out the right machine for you.
If you like doing pull-ups or chin-ups like me and practicing in calisthenics such as muscle ups and so on, then try and opt for one that has a non-intrusive pull up bar, some of these machines use the bar that you will use for lat pulldowns but this doesn’t feel safe to me and am worried about the stability of it all. If this is your choice look for smith machines that have this feature such as the Inspire Fitness Trainer I reviewed above.
In general though, you would want a smith machine that can at least provide some form of training on the following muscles:
And most of these machines will have that option, and of course this is ultimately dependent on your purpose but as a general rule of thumb if you’re looking for an “all-rounder” this is a good starting point.
Maximum Weight Capacity
You can’t expect to progress with weightlifting if you’re looking at buying a set like the Weider Pro which carries a capacity of 300 lbs. That will get you nowhere in terms of weightlifting.
Still quite connected to the first consideration which is to know your goals, checking the maximum weight capacity comes hand in hand with that. If you’re set to take the path of a weightlifter, get a machine with a bigger weight capacity like BE-11. Otherwise, you can opt for dual-purpose machines like the FT2’s.
The best thing to do is to seek the advice of your salesman or even your gym instructor if you’re still within the membership. Keep in mind that long term plans come into play when investing in products like home gym machines so you have to do your research well.
So you’ve managed to write down your goals, and you now know what you want. The next thing you have to consider is whether your house can manage the floor requirement of the machine you’re bringing.
Floor space not only means the exact space where you put in your smith machine, but also additional space for movement, adjustments, and performing exercises. Monster G3’s power rack is the most space-saving of the list if you’re looking for a dual-function gym set.
While BE-11’s smith machine is very compact and wouldn’t take much space at all. Also, you need to check the height of the ceiling. FT2’s equipment is quite tall at 88 inches cage height and it would be a hassle to find out only later on that it wouldn’t fit the room you’re planning to install it in.
Having something that protects the floor such as gym mats would also help prevent any damage to your flooring as these machines are often quite heavy and can move over time, causing scratching on surfaces such as timber, or carpet.
Installation and Assembly
If you do not like assembling things and watching them come to fruition, then you should consider asking help from friends or ask the supplier if they can have it assembled for you. Smith machines always come in parts and pieces because of their size so you have to be prepared to spend a few hours (sometimes days) building your set.
On the other hand, if this is something you enjoy, then you should just be prepared with the most basic tools you can find in your house. An instruction manual always comes with these smith machines and they’re pretty straightforward.
Always. Getting a home gym comes with a specific risk: that you’ve decided to lift weights and workout on your own without the help of an instructor or a spotter. Safety should always be a major consideration, smith machines like BE-11 have counterbalance features which will ensure that the weight is offset.
These are small yet very important details that ensure that you will be able to workout as safe as possible.
In general, smith machines are a lot safer than doing free weightlifting.
Frequently Asked Questions About Smith Machines For Home Use
Q: What’s the difference between a smith machine and a functional trainer?
A: Functional trainers originally is made for the rehabilitation of injured athletes or regular people. It can target specific parts of the body and offers focus to build muscle on certain parts. Smith Machines, on the other hand, are focused on weightlifting. It’s made to support a lifter as he/she lifts a barbell up and down.
Q: Is a smith machine better than just doing free weights?
A: The major thing that smith machines can offer is a safer and controlled ‘setup’ that will support your training. This is not to say that free weights are ineffective, but having a structure to control or regulate your movement is ideal especially for beginners.
There are thousand or more variations of home gym equipment in the market today. Functions differ from one equipment to another, and they all offer a variety of things you may or may not need. Hopefully, this buying guide provided a bit of clarity if you’re a beginner who’s just overwhelmed with home gym equipment or a novice who’s looking to buy his next home gym.
If you’re looking to take the next step towards building your dream home gym, I suggest that you check out a post that I made on what the home gym essentials are. I cover everything from equipment to the gym tiles on your floor! Check it out! If you’re a man, check out the best workout shoes for men that I reviewed earlier in the year. Sorry ladies, I will have one up for you as well as soon as I get my wife to go through some shoe trials!
Let me know in the comments section what you think of this and I’ll be more than happy to start a discussion. Until then, I hope I helped you, even just a little, to decide on how you will take the next steps!
Marko Rakic is a trail runner and fitness enthusiast from Sydney, Australia. He is the lead writer for The Ultimate Primate and believes the best way to live a happy life is to take a holistic approach to fitness and health.