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June 13, 2022 4 min read

Most people are familiar with the typical 45 pounds that a standard barbell weighs. This kind of barbell is called an Olympic barbell, and these free weights are pretty much standardized no matter what gym you go to.

When doing barbell bench presses, traditional deadlifts, shoulder presses, or any other type of weightlifting, they can simply add 45 pounds to however much the weight plates they are using weigh to calculate the total amount of weight they are lifting. 

It becomes a bit more difficult when people use a smith machine, which is incredibly versatile and can be used for anything from back squats to smith machine bench presses.

These machines are extremely helpful for when you do not have a spotter since most smith machines have a safety bar that you can set just in case you aren’t able to complete the movement of the smith machine squat or whatever exercise you are doing.

This makes smith machines an incredibly popular choice for those who go to the gym solo and those who have at-home gym setups.

Smith machines also help you improve your form and are generally a great way for beginners to get used to working out.

Unfortunately, answering the question, “how much does a smith machine bar weigh?” is not as simple as the same question for free-weight bars or dumbbells.

This is because there is not actually a standardized weight for smith machine bars, and smith machine bars can weigh anywhere from approximately 6lbs to 45lbs.

There are many variables that must be taken into account since there are different types of smith machines, different gyms have different brands of smith machines, and commercial smith machines also vary in weight depending on the brand.

We will clear up some of the confusion by telling you what makes some smith machines different than others and the weight of the smith machine bar for some of the most popular brands. 

What is a Smith Machine?

A Smith machine is a weight training machine with a barbell that is fixed within a set of steel rails, permitting it to move strictly up and down in a vertical (or near-vertical) path.  

The smith machine allows you to work many of the same muscle groups as you would with free weight exercises and barbell exercises. 

Differences between smith machines

There are a number of differences between different types of smith machines which cause the weight of the barbell to be different.  

  1. Bar Material

The type of steel used for a smith machine barbell is typically different than that used for an Olympic bar since smith machines have additional clamps, pulleys, bearings, and slides which means that they don’t need to be made of steel that can withhold heavy weights without assistance like free weight barbells, such as the Olympic barbell, which need a higher tinsel strength.

  1. Counterbalance 

Typically, residential-made Smith machines don’t have counterbalances or counterweights and commercial-made Smith machines do. So, if you are working out at places like Planet Fitness, LA Fitness, Life Time, Equinox, or Gold’s Gym, then the Smith machine is probably counterbalanced. And if you have a home gym Smith machine, then it’s probably not.

 A counterbalanced bar will feel lighter, generally 6-20lbs. The reason for the range is how much it is counterbalanced, and this will differ between gyms and brands.

  1. Angle of the Rails

While many smith machines have rails that are perfectly vertical, many others have rails that are slightly inclined. The amount that the rails are inclined will affect how much the bar weighs and the range of motion.

Weights of the most popular smith machines

  1. Planet Fitness Smith Machine

The Smith machines at Planet Fitness will have the bar weight written on the side of the machine. So, you can just have a look, but they should range from 15-20lbs.

  1. LA Fitness Smith Machine

LA Fitness will have a commercial Smith machine with a counterbalanced barbell. Most LA Fitness gyms have a Smith machine with a bar weight of 15-25lbs.

  1. Marcy Smith Machine

Marcy is a brand known for producing home gym equipment which you can purchase on sites like Amazon. They sell all-in-one Smith machines, not commercial Smith machines. However, they do make their all-in-one Smith machines with angled bar paths and counterbalanced weight. Most Marcy Smith machines have a bar weight of 16lbs, but the SM-4033 model’s bar weighs about 36lbs and the Diamond Elite MD-9010G weighs 25lbs.

  1. Nautilus Smith Machine

Nautilus is a huge brand that most of you probably know. They sell a high-end commercial Smith machine that you’ll find at some gyms, and the bar weighs approximately 15lbs.

  1. Hammer Strength Smith Machine

Hammer Strength is a commercial Smith machine brand with a model that you will find at gyms all over the world. Their Smith machine has a 7 degree bar path angle and a counterbalance system that sets the bar’s starting weight at 20lbs (9kg) and a max capacity of 650lbs.

What to Do Before Using a Smith Machine

We all know it's important to know the exact amount of weight you are lifting, so if you want to use a smith machine for your lifting, there are some steps you can take.

When you have already taken your PRE workout and are ready to pump out some reps, you don’t want to get bogged down with details but asking the gym staff how much the smith machine bar weighs will usually get you a quick answer. If you are working out at home, you can measure the weight of the bar with a typical bathroom scale.

The good thing is that whether you are working out at the gym’s residential smith machine or working out on your commercial smith machine at home, you only need to hear the information once to get on with what you really want to do – bodybuilding!