A Smith machine in your gym may have a bar that weighs less than a regular barbell. It’s difficult to determine how much weight you are lifting when compared to free-weight machines or exercises.
Even worse, Smith machines lack a label or placard that tells you how heavy the bar is. It can be difficult to measure the bar yourself.
This is why I am going to answer the question, “How much does a Smith machine-bar weigh?” You don’t have to guess how much resistance you are using.
What is a Smith Machine?
A Smith machine is a weight lifting device where the barbell moves up and down along a series of steel rails. Guide rails limit the weight to a vertical or near-vertical movement, making it safer than free weights.
The hook rotates at each end of the bar, and there are several lookout points where the weight can be attached. The Smith machine can also be used as a “self-spotting” device.
Removes the need to stabilize the bar. Smith machines place more weight on the primary muscle groups targeted by each exercise. This is a great way to change up your routine.
Smith machines also have a lower start weight than Olympic barbells. The actual weight of the bars depends on several factors. Let’s now look at the Smith machine bar weight.
What Does a Smith Machine Bar Weight?
The weight of a Smith machine bar can vary from 6 to 32 lbs, depending on its material, counterbalancing and the angle of its rails.
Because they aren’t made from high-strength, some smith machine bars weigh less than standard 45 lb Olympic bars. The bar is supported at each end, so it doesn’t suffer the same bending stress as a free-weight one.
The bar may therefore weigh between 30-40 lbs. It can sometimes weigh more because of the additional bearings and hooks.
Additionally, Smith machine bars are often counterbalanced. This is done by using cables, pulleys and counterweights.
This counterbalance system is normally hidden behind safety covers. However, the image below shows what it looks like inside.
A counterbalance will make the perceived weight of a Smith bar less than 30 lbs. It could be as low as 6 lbs, depending on how the balancing is used.
Why counterbalance the bar? For people who are new to the sport of training, or for those who prefer a lighter load, the bar should be lowered.
Okay, why not make it weigh zero lbs? If the bar was perfectly balanced with a counterweight, even the slightest touch could send it to the top of this machine. Like an astronaut in zero gravity!
However, this free-floating bar can cause damage to the machine. However, this free-floating bar could cause damage to the machine. Smith machine makers counterbalance the bar to give it some weight but not as much as a traditional barbell.
Angle of Rails
Smith machines may have guide rails that are angled at an incline on some models. This allows for a more natural movement path when performing exercises such as squats or bench presses. The angle of the rails can affect the weight of the bar.
You may have seen force diagrams in physics class. This diagram shows the forces that act on an object placed on an inclined surface.
The steeper the inclines, the greater the pulling (or pushing force) required to move an object, such as a bar. When you are using a vertical Smith machine, the entire weight of the bar pushes down.
The force required to move an object falls as the angle becomes flatter. Imagine pushing a box across a flat table. It is easier to push the box than it is to lift it.
This is because some of the weight is directed onto the surface. The table supports most of the weight in this case, so the box is light to push.
The inclined Smith machine rails also take some of that load. The angle is only 12 degrees from vertical, but it’s still quite steep. A 30 lb bag is equivalent to 29 lbs, so it shouldn’t be a concern.
Common Smith Machine Bar Weights
We know that Smith machine bars weigh between 6 and 32 lbs, depending on which Smith machine they are. This is why I have divided it into two types of Smith machines.
Residential Smith Machines
A residential Smith machine is one you might buy for your home gym. They are typically made from cheaper materials and can be purchased at the cost of around $1,000-$2,000.
A residential Smith machine will often have a standard barbell that is 1″ in diameter, as opposed to the 2″ diameter Olympic plates and bars. They do sell adapters that allow you to use Olympic plates.
The bar is not counterbalanced. The bar is lighter than an Olympic bar, but you still feel its full weight. This means that residential Smith machines can be as light as 30 lbs.
A slide mechanism to attach the bar to the rails is another cost-saving option. Nylon bushings are sometimes used in residential Smith machines instead of ball bearings. This makes the movement less smooth than commercial Smith machines.
Machines for commercial smuggling
A commercial Smith machine, on the other hand, is one you’d find in a large gym. It is made of higher quality materials and can cost between $3,000-$4,000.
Although they don’t always come with Olympic-quality bars, Commercial Smith machines can fit Olympic plates that are 2″ in diameter. They are usually equipped with ball bearings and a counterbalance to lower the starting mass to 30 lbs.
Below is a table that compares the bar weight of residential Smith machines to commercial Smith machines.
Remember that the equipment suppliers recommend the bar weigh the same weight as Table 1. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is exact.
The weight can vary by up to 5 lbs from what I have experienced. This could be due to variations between machines or changes in bearings over time.
If you are a numbers geek like me and want to know how heavy your Smith machine bar is, you may need to measure it!
How to Measure Smith Machine Bar Weight
There are two ways to determine the Smith machine bar’s weight: a scale or a weighted rope. Since it’s simpler and the easiest, I’ll use the scale method.
It’s also a good idea for you to speak to someone at the gym before you start. Do not be a stranger by tying ropes on machines or taking bathroom scales without asking… Be a weirdo with permission.
Option 1: Scale
Find a sturdy box or object that you can use to lift the bar off the safety stops at the bottom of the machine. Next, place the bar on top of the box using a scale. The bar’s weight will be indicated by the scale.
You can also use a bar to record your weight if you don’t own a box. Next, weigh yourself with the bar removed and subtract this from your first measurement.
The scale read 18 lbs when I performed this test. To check if the scale was calibrated, I also weighed a dumbbell of 20-30 and 40 lb because this is an older analog scale. Each one was about 2 lbs lower than the others. The bar is likely to weigh 20 lbs.
An equipment supplier stated that the bar should have a start weight of 25 lbs. Each machine is unique, so the resistance of the bar might be affected by wear and tear.
You can use option 2 if you don’t have a scale.
Option 2: Rope and Weight
You will need a 10-foot long rope and a series of 10, 5, and 2.5 lb weight plates to measure the length. Attach one end of the rope to the bar. Then, attach the other end to the machine’s top crossbar.
Move the bar to the top hook so that the rope’s loose end is on the ground. Attach some weight plates to the end. Next, loosen the bar and check if it balances.
Add or subtract weights until the bar is in a near-perfect balance.
This method has its flaws, I should emphasize.
First, the smallest weight plate that you have is your limit. Most likely, you will need to add/reduce 2.5 lbs.
The friction between the rope & crossbar will cause the bar to look heavier than it actually is. This could mean that you could be off by as much as 3 lbs.
What is the importance of the bar’s weight?
It’s true that it takes a lot of effort to find the weight of Smith machine bars. Why is it important?
It allows you to make more precise percentage-based adjustments to your weight from week to week. This is an essential part of any progressive overload program.
You can also know the weight of the bar to determine your starting weight. If you bench press 135 lbs regularly, you might want to add a 10lb plate on each side for Smith machine bench pressing.
This isn’t always an exact comparison, as the Smith machine uses different muscles.
After answering the question, “How much does a Smith machine bars weigh?” you will be able to get a better understanding of how much weight this equipment is lifting.
Although a few extra pounds won’t ruin your fitness goals, paying attention to details can help you get better results.