How Much Does A Smith Machine Bar Weigh?

By: Jeremy Fox, CNC, CPT, BSEngUpdated: November 13, 2023

I’m sure you’ve noticed that the Smith machine bar doesn’t weigh the same as a standard barbell. This makes it difficult to know how much weight you’re actually lifting compared to other exercises.

To add to the confusion, most Smith machines do not have a label or placard that indicates how much the bar weighs. Therefore, I’m here to answer the question, “How much does a Smith machine bar weigh?” so that you no longer have to guess how much resistance you are using.

How Much Does A Smith Machine Bar Weigh

I will be addressing the bar weight of several types of Smith machines and explaining how counterbalancing and angles affect the perceived Smith machine bar weight. So feel free to jump to a specific section by clicking on it in the table of contents below.

What Is A Smith Machine?

The Smith machine is a weight-lifting apparatus that runs along steel rails, allowing the barbell to move up and down in a vertical or near-vertical motion. The guide rails limit the weight’s movement, making it safer than free weights.

Each end of the bar has a rotating hook, with lockout points available to attach the weight. This feature makes the Smith machine a self-spotting device, increasing safety.

By eliminating the need to stabilize the bar, Smith machines place more load on the primary muscles targeted by each exercise, making it an excellent way to enhance muscle growth or change up your routine.

Furthermore, Smith machines have a lower starting weight than Olympic barbells, but the actual weight of the bar depends on several factors. Let’s dive into the weight of the Smith machine bar.

Smith Machine Squat

The Smith machine can be used for dozens of different exercises, including several squat variations.

How Much Does A Smith Machine Bar Weigh?

A Smith machine bar weighs anywhere from 6 lbs to 32 lbs, depending on the construction material, counterbalancing, and the angle of the rails.

Smith Machine Bar Weight of Materials

It’s worth noting that Smith machine bars are often constructed from lighter materials because they do not undergo the same bending stress seen by a free-weight bar. This means that the bar itself may weigh between 30-40 lbs, although it could weigh more, including the bearings and hooks.

Smith Machine Bar Weight With Counterbalancing

Smith machines often have a counterbalance system comprised of cables, pulleys, and weights, which makes the bar feel lighter. Depending on the balancing used, the perceived weight of a Smith machine bar can be as low as 6 lbs or as high as 30 lbs.

The main reason is to lower the starting weight of the bar for beginners or for exercises where a lighter load is preferred. However, if the bar was balanced with an equal or heavier counterweight, it would float freely and could damage the machine.

Therefore, Smith machine manufacturers use a counterbalance system to give the bar some weight but not as much as a traditional barbell.

How Much Does A Smith Machine Bar Weigh Counterbalance Example

Usually, this counterbalance system is hidden behind safety covers, but this is what it looks like inside.

Smith Machine Bar Weight by Angle

Many Smith machines have guide rails that are angled to align better with the natural movement path of exercises such as squats and bench presses. The incline of these rails can also slightly change the weight of the bar. 

In a physics class, you may have created diagrams depicting the forces acting on an object resting on an incline. The steeper the incline, the more force is required to move it. Conversely, when the angle gets flatter, the force required to move the object decreases.

Consider pushing a box on a smooth table – it takes much less force to push it than its weight. This is because some of the weight is directed into the surface.

Similarly, the inclined Smith machine rails take some of the load, although the angle is still pretty steep at a maximum of 12 degrees from vertical. The math shows that a 30 lb angled Smith machine bar feels like 29 lbs, so it’s unlikely to be a noticeable difference.

How Much Does A Smith Machine Bar Weigh Force Diagram

Common Smith Machine Bar Weights

So far, we’ve established that Smith machine bars can weigh anywhere from 6 to 32 lbs, depending on the type of Smith machine you have. So, to help you narrow that down, I’ve split that up into two common Smith machine types.

Home Gym Smith Machine Bar Weight

A home gym Smith machine is typically made of cheaper materials and costs $1,000-$2,000. Often, a home gym Smith machine has a standard barbell with a 1″ diameter instead of the 2″ diameter of Olympic bars and plates.

In addition, the bar is usually not counterbalanced. So, while the bar is lighter steel than an Olympic bar, you feel the total weight. That means residential Smith machines can have a starting weight of around 30 lbs.

Another common cost-saving area is the slide mechanism for the bar on the rails. Residential Smith machines sometimes use nylon bushings instead of ball bearings, so it’s not as smooth as a commercial Smith machine.

Related: Home Gym Power Rack Buyer’s Guide

Commercial Smith Machines

On the other hand, a commercial Smith machine is one you would find in a large gym. It is a piece of equipment made from higher quality materials and costs $3,000-$4,000.

Commercial Smith machines don’t always have Olympic-quality bars, but they fit 2″ diameter Olympic plates. They usually have ball bearings and a counterbalance to reduce the starting weight to 30 lbs or less.

The table below shows the bar weight of a residential Smith machine compared to various commercial Smith machines.

How Much Does A Smith Machine Bar Weigh?

Brand Bar Weight Angle Slide Type Counterbalance
Body-Solid 32 lbs 0o Nylon Bushings No
Matrix 25 lbs 0o Linear Bearings Yes
Life Fitness 20 lbs 7o Linear Bearings Yes
Hammer Strength 30 lbs 7o Linear Bearings Yes
Hoist 25 lbs 7o Linear Bearings Yes

Table 1. Actual bar weights of popular Smith machines according to manufacturer data.

Body-Solid Smith Machine Bar Weight

Body-Solid is a fitness brand that makes relatively inexpensive gym equipment for home or smaller commercial gyms. Their residential Smith machine has vertical rails with nylon bushings and no counterweighting.

As a result, the Body-Solid home gym Smith machine has a bar weight of around 32 pounds.

Matrix Smith Machine Bar Weight

Matrix manufactures a commercial-grade Smith machine with vertical rails, linear bearings, and counterbalancing. The starting weight of the bar is supposedly 25 pounds.

My gym has this Smith machine, so I weighed the bar myself. As I’ll explain below, the number I measured was different than what the manufacturer lists.

Life Fitness Smith Machine Bar Weight

Life Fitness is one of the most popular equipment brands in larger commercial gym chains. Chances are, you’ve seen one of their Smith machines with angled rails and counterweights that provide a starting bar weight of 20 pounds.

Hammer Strength Smith Machine Bar Weight

Another leading equipment manufacturer, Hammer Strenght, produces a heavy-duty angled Smith machine with a starting bar weight of 30 pounds. This is one of the heavier counterbalanced Smith machines you’ll find.

Hoist Smith Machine Bar Weight

Lastly, Hoist is a leading manufacturer of high-end commercial-grade gym equipment. Their most popular Smith machine has angled rails and a starting weight of 25 pounds.

Remember, the weights in Table 1 are what the equipment suppliers say the bar should weigh. But that doesn’t mean it’s exact.

In my experience, the weight may differ by 5 lbs or more from the specification. This discrepancy is probably due to variations between machines and changes that occur with the bearings after years of use.

Therefore, if you’re a numbers nerd like me and want to know exactly how much your particular Smith machine bar weighs, you might have to measure it!

How To Measure Smith Machine Bar Weight

To measure the weight of a Smith machine bar, there are two methods you can use: a scale or a rope and weight. The easiest method is using a scale, which is the one I used.

However, getting permission from a gym employee before you start is important because you don’t want to get kicked out for lurking around with ropes and scales!

Option 1: Scale

To measure the weight of a bar, first, find a sturdy box or object to hold the bar up off the safety stops located at the bottom of the machine. Then, place a scale on top of the box and let the bar rest on it. The bar’s weight can be seen on the scale’s readout.

Alternatively, if you don’t have a box, you can put the scale on the floor, step on it while holding the bar, and note the weight. Next, weigh yourself without the bar and subtract that weight from the first measurement to get the bar’s weight.

How Much Does A Smith Machine Bar Weigh Scale Test

I used a wooden plyo box to raise the scale up to bar level.

How Much Does A Smith Machine Bar Weigh Scale Test

Ensure the bar is level and resting entirely on the scale.

When I did this test, the scale showed a weight of 18 lbs. Since this is an older analog scale, I also weighed a 20, 30, and 40-lb dumbbell to see if it was calibrated. Each one read about 2 lbs low. So the bar probably actually weighs 20 lbs.

According to an equipment supplier, the bar should have a starting weight of 25 lbs. Therefore, each machine is different, and wear and tear might change the bar’s perceived resistance over time.

Of course, if you don’t have a scale, you’ll have to use option 2.

Option 2: Rope & Weight

For this measurement, you’ll need a thin rope about 10 feet long and a series of 10, 5, and 2.5-lb weight plates. Tie one end of a rope around the middle of the bar, Then throw the other end over the top crossbar of the machine.

Now, move the bar up to one of the top hooks so the loose end of the rope is on the floor. On this end, tie some weight plates. Next, unhook the bar and see if it balances.

Add or remove weights until the bar is in near-perfect balance. When the bar is balanced, the weight tied to the rope equals the bar’s weight.

How Much Does A Smith Machine Bar Weigh Rope Test

It’s important to note that there are some limitations to this method. Firstly, your precision is limited by the smallest weight plate you have available, which is typically around +/- 2.5 lbs.

Secondly, the friction between the rope and the crossbar can cause the bar to appear heavier, leading to potential errors of 3 lbs or more.

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Why The Weight Of The Bar Is Important?

Admittedly, it’s a lot of work to find the weight of a Smith machine bar. So why does it matter in the first place?

For one, it helps you make more accurate percentage-based adjustments to your weekly weights lifted on Smith machine exercises. And the incremental increase is an integral part of any progressive overload plan.

Also, knowing the actual weight of the bar helps determine your starting weight based on a similar free-weight exercise. For example, if you normally bench press 135 lbs, you may want to add a 10 lb plate on each side for the Smith machine bench press.

Keep in mind this is not always a perfect comparison since the path of the Smith machine recruits different muscles.

Smith Machine Bar Weight FAQ

Now, I will answer more specific questions about how much a Smith machine bar weighs.

Should I count the weight of the Smith machine bar?

You don’t always have to count the weight of the Smith machine bar, particularly if you don’t know exactly what it is. In addition, many people don’t count the bar weight because it can be challenging to add the numbers in their heads.

I like to know what the weight of the bar is for reference with other exercises. But when writing my weights in a workout log, I omit the bar’s weight and only put the net weight of the plates I added.

How Much Does the Smith Machine Bar Weigh at Planet Fitness?

The weight of the Smith machine bar at Planet Fitness depends on which equipment brand your location has. For example, many Planet Fitness gyms have the Hammer Strength angled Smith machine, with a starting bar weight of 30 lbs.

However, other Planet Fitness locations have Cybex or Matrix Smith machines, with a starting bar weight of 15 and 25 lbs, respectively. Therefore, checking what Smith machine brand your gym has is essential.

Smith Machine Bar Weight Key Takeaways

  • On average, Smith machine bars weigh 15-25 lbs
  • Counterbalanced Smith machine bars may weigh less than 15 lbs
  • The angle of the Smith machine has little affect on the weight of the bar
  • Each machine is different, wear and tear can change the resistance of the bar
  • To get an accurate measurement, use a scale to weigh the bar on the machine

Other Bar Weights & Machine Weights

Now that I’ve answered the question “How much does the Smith machine bar weigh?”, you can better understand how much weight you’re actually lifting when using this equipment.

While being off by a few pounds won’t make or break your fitness results, those who pay attention to the details tend to get results faster. So, if you’re the type who likes to get detailed answers to your fitness questions, check out some of my other related articles below.

Curl Bar Weight By Type: How Much Does Your Curl Bar Weigh?

How Much Does A Hex Bar REALLY Weigh?

EZ Bar Weight By Type, Size, & Brand: How Much Are You Lifting?

How Much Does A Deadlift Bar Weigh? (Hex, Trap, Olympic, Powerlifting)

How Much Does A Leg Press Weigh Without Plates (Sled Only)?

Plus, check out my other great content on all things fitness-related. You will find answers to all your questions about exercise, supplements, and nutrition.

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By |November 13, 2023|Workouts|0 Comments
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