How Much Does a Smith Machine Bar Weigh? Prepare to be Disappointed…

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So…I take it you do not know how much your home gym Smith Machine bar weighs.

I know how you’re feeling, but don’t beat yourself up over this; almost nobody knows how much those bars actually weigh. It’s kinda like the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop…

“The world may never know!”

We all know that the Smith Machines makes the bar feel a bit lighter than “free” barbells (which we normally chalk up to the bar path being pretty much set), it?

Today, we’re going to put this question to rest and while we can’t give an exact answer, we can discuss how much a Smith Machine bar can weigh. This will make sense as we’ll discuss overall variance and nerdy things like “counterbalanced Smith Machines”.

What Is a Smith Machine?

The odd, semi-rack with a built-in barbell that the non-powerlifting gym squatting population seems to love…

That’s a commercial Smith Machine, a staple in gyms for those aiming to lift heavy with more stability (and arguably more ease) than free weights.

A Smith Machine consists of a barbell that is fixed within steel rails, allowing only vertical or near-vertical movement. This fusion allows for a plethora of exercises, combining the benefits of a barbell and a squat rack into one piece of equipment.

Beginners or those working out without a spotter can use a Smith Machine to lift with confidence when/if they are not sure whether or not they will be able to hit that final rep.

how much does a smith machine bar weigh

All-in-one Smith Machine Advantages

Smith Machines get a lot of flack, mainly for the perception that using them is not as difficult as using free weights to perform the same movements (ex. bench press vs. Smith Machine bench press). However, the machine does offers unique benefits that can be appealing to many lifters.

  • Stability: Since the bar/weights move on a controlled track, it’s much easier to maintain perfect form with the Smith Machine barbell.
  • Safety: The built-in safety “stops” protect lifters, instilling confidence when a spotter isn’t available.
  • Isolation: Better able to target specific muscle groups by reducing reliance on stabilizer muscles during lifts.
  • Consistency in Movement: Movements/form are consistent from rep to rep can help to develop muscle memory for specific lifts. Many Smith Machine brands will function exactly the same as each other, creating even greater consistency. 
  • Variety of Exercises: A plethora of exercises, such as Smith Machine squats, bench presses, and overhead presses can be performed with a single piece of equipment.

Smith Machine Disadvantages

As you might expect, there are legitimate reasons why so many people crap on the Smith Machine so much. Some of these include:

  • Less Engagement of Stabilizer Muscles: The fixed path of the bar means these muscles usually aren’t worked with the Smith Machine as much as they would be when performing similar lifts with free weights.
  • Restricted Movement: For those requiring more dynamic and functional exercises, the fixed path is extremely limiting.
  • Potential for Poor Habit Formation: Some argue that the Smith Machine can lead to…odd form that doesn’t translate as well to free wight exercises.

What Are the Main Types of Smith Machines?

If you’re not only in the market for the answer to the question “how much does a Smith Machine weigh?” but are also in the market to use or even buy one, it makes sense to know about the main varieties of machine. Thankfully, they only come in two main configurations.. That being said, each variation has its quirks and will greatly impact your general exercise selection.

Different Types of Smith Machines – Vertical vs. Angled

Vertical Smith Machines:

  • Rails are positioned perfectly perpendicular to the ground.
  • Offer a straight up-and-down movement, which many find useful for maintaining proper form.

Angled Smith Machines:

  • Rails are set at an incline, often around a 5-7 degree angle.
  • Mimic a more natural arc in movements like squats and bench presses, which some users prefer for a more ergonomic lift.

Whichever variation you’re initially drawn to, remember that the angle of the rails impacts the bar’s path during exercises and might influence which muscles are activated. Choosing between a vertical or angled Smith machine really boils down to personal preference and your specific fitness goals.

Why Is It Important to Know the Weight of the Smith Machine Bar?

Understanding the exact weight of the Smith machine bar is crucial for anyone serious about making actual progress in their strength-training ventures. 

Advantages of Knowing Common Smith Machine Bar Weights

  • Accurate Progress Tracking: In the world of lifting, every pound counts. By knowing the weight of the Smith Machine bar, lifters can more accurately log the weights they’re lifting. This knowledge helps to track your progress over time.
  • Applying Progressive Overload: Progressive overload, the gradual increase of stress placed on your muscles, is vital for building strength and muscle. Knowing the bar’s weight allow lifters to systematically increase this stress to optimize strength gains.
  • Personalized Workout Intensity: Knowing the exact starting point of the Smith Machine bar weight is essential for customizing the intensity of workouts.
  • Comparing Free Weights and Machine Lifts: When alternating between free weight exercises and Smith Machine lifts, knowing the bar weight can help maintain consistent resistance levels across workouts, leading to more effective training sessions.

How Much Does a Smith Machine Bar Weigh?

So, we’ve finally made it to the $64,000 question (and answer)!


The Average Starting Weight of Popular Smith Machines (not including Weight Plates)

Smith machine bars typically tip the scale between 15 to 45 pounds (~7 to 20 kg).

…yeah, I know that’s a bit of a range, but…machines vary!

To be honest, most are going to be in that classic, 45-pound category, but you may end up needing to check the manufacturer’s specs for the specific machine to be sure.

What Is Counterbalance on a Smith Machine and What Does It Have to Do with Bar Weight?

As underwhelming as that response may have been, we have some additional information that is relevant to the bar weight conversation and it has to do with an obscure term: counterbalance.

 It’s crucial to understand how a Smith Machine’s counterbalance system affects machine weight and the ability to perform particularly exercises. This mechanism directly interacts with bar weight, impacting how much weight is actually being lifted.

…now we get to the reason why the bar feels lighter in the Smith Machine than it does with free weights; the “magic” of the counterbalance! By using weights and a pulley system, the counterbalance takes on some of the bar’s weight.

Advantages and Disadvantages of the Counterbalance System

The Smith Machine’s counterbalance system can certainly make you feel like He-man…but not all that glitters is gold…

  • Advantages:
    • Ideal for beginners who are very uncomfortable with the thought of learning free weight technique
    • Great for rehabilitation or those nursing injuries
  • Disadvantages:
    • As previously mentioned, can limit the development of stabilizing muscles
    • May not accurately reflect improvements in true free weight exercises

Frequently Asked Questions

Yeah, it’s an…odd topic. That’s why we have a few more answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.

Yes the weight of a Smith Machine bar can definitely vary by brand. Each brand may design the machine with different materials and specifications, causing this weight discrepancy.

Calculating the effective weight you're lifting on a Smith Machine involves a bit of "mathing". You'll want to first find out the weight of the bar, add the weight of the plates you've loaded, and consider the angle of the machine which can affect the actual resistance during your workout. Remember, due to the counterbalance system, the starting resistance can be lighter than the actual bar weight.

So…How Much Does a Smith Machine Bar Weigh …For Real?

Now that you have a a better idea of what your home and/or residential Smith Machine (or, possibly even your local Planet Fitness Smith Machine) bar weighs, you’re in a much better position to accurately measure the weight of your sets and reps. 

I know it may be pretty anti-climatic to either:

A. have to check out the actual equipment specs for this information…


B. to know that the bar weighs pretty much the same as any other Olympic barbell, but at least you can hit back when people give you crap about performing Smith Machine bench presses!

Ultimately, different brands of Smith Machines are going to boast different Smith Machine barbell weighs. My advice to deal with this reality? Just load an extra 20-30 pounds on to the bar every time you get self-conscious about the weight you’re using. The added pain and necessary physical exertion will be good for you!

…and if you’re really interested in picking up a Smith Machine after this little discussion, check out our review of the MAJOR FITNESS B52…one of the best home all-in-one machines on the market!

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Tom, CrossFit Level 1 Trainer, ISSA-CPT, PN1-NC, DPA, CAPM has been CrossFitting for over 10 years. He has participated in a number of team and individual CrossFit competitions across Europe and the United States. He was the 2012 Chick-fil-A Race Series champion (North Georgia Circuit) and has put together a few gnarly garage and basement gyms in his time!

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