How Much Weight Does A Smith Machine Take Off?


A Smith machine is a common fixture in gyms, known for its fixed barbell that runs on guided tracks. A frequent question among users is how much weight does the Smith machine actually take off the total load due to its mechanical assistance? Today, I will share the mechanics behind the Smith machine, how it affects the perceived weight of the barbell, and provide insights into the actual weight reduction when using this piece of equipment.

How Much Weight Does A Smith Machine Take Off?

The Smith machine itself doesn’t actually take off any weight compared to a free weight barbell exercise. It provides a guided bar path, but it doesn’t magically reduce the amount of weight you need to lift.

However, people often find they can lift slightly less weight on a Smith machine compared to a free weight barbell exercise for several reasons:

  • Stabilized movement: The bar’s fixed track eliminates the need for stabilizer muscles, which are typically engaged when using free weights to control the barbell’s path. This can reduce the overall weight you can lift because some of the secondary muscle groups aren’t being challenged as much.

  • Form and technique: Free weights require more focus on maintaining proper form and technique to lift the weight safely. The fixed track of the Smith machine can make it easier to maintain proper posture for some exercises, but it can also lead to a false sense of security and potentially hinder your ability to develop good technique for free weight exercises in the future.

Here’s a takeaway:

The Smith machine doesn’t reduce weight. The weight you can lift will likely be slightly lower than with free weights due to reduced stabilizer muscle engagement.

Benefits of Using a Smith Machine:

Here are the advantages of incorporating a Smith machine into your workout regimen:

1. Increased Safety:

One of the primary benefits of the Smith machine is the increased safety it offers. The fixed barbell on tracks prevents the weight from tipping forward or backward, reducing the risk of injury common in free weight lifting. This is particularly beneficial for those who lift heavy without a spotter, as the machine has built-in safeties that can be set to stop the bar at specific heights.

2. Stability and Control:

The guided movement of the Smith machine provides stability and control during exercise, which is especially helpful for those new to weightlifting or those rehabilitating from an injury. This controlled environment allows users to focus on form and execution without the additional challenge of stabilizing the weight, leading to more precise muscle targeting.

3. Isolation of Specific Muscle Groups:

Because the Smith machine stabilizes the weight, it allows for targeted muscle isolation. Exercises can be performed to specifically develop certain muscle groups, such as the quads during squats or the chest during bench presses, with less recruitment of supporting muscles. This can be particularly advantageous during bodybuilding or sculpting workouts.

4. Versatility:

The Smith machine is quite versatile and can be used for a wide range of exercises that target different parts of the body. It’s not just for squats and bench presses; you can perform rows, deadlifts, shoulder presses, and even more compound movements like lunges and calf raises. This makes it a valuable piece of equipment for full-body workouts.

5. Confidence for Heavier Lifting:

The safety and stability provided by the Smith machine can give lifters the confidence to push themselves with heavier weights than they might use with free weights. Knowing that the bar is secured and won’t fall provides psychological comfort, which can lead to physical performance improvements.

6. Assistance with Proper Form:

For beginners, the Smith machine can assist in learning the proper form for various exercises without the added difficulty of balancing the weights. By practicing movements on the Smith machine, users can build a good foundation of strength and muscle memory, which can be beneficial when transitioning to more challenging free-weight exercises.

7. Progressive Training and Rehabilitation:

The fixed path of the bar on a Smith machine can be particularly beneficial for rehabilitation from injuries. It allows users to perform movements with a controlled range of motion and adjustable resistance, which can be crucial for gradually strengthening injured areas without overloading them.

How To Use The Smith Machine?

Here are some tips for properly using a Smith machine for various exercises:


  • Set the safety catches at an appropriate height for your depth
  • Stand with feet about shoulder-width apart, barbell racked across upper back
  • Keep your chest up and core braced
  • Send hips back while bending knees to descend into a squat
  • Make sure knees track over toes, don’t let them cave inward
  • Drive through your heels to return to the start position

Bench Press:

  • Lie on the bench and arch your back slightly, planting feet firmly
  • Grip the bar slightly wider than shoulder-width apart
  • Unrack the bar, holding it with straight arms above your chest
  • Inhale, then slowly lower the bar until it lightly touches your sternum
  • Exhale and use your chest to drive the bar back up to start


  • Load the bar and stand with feet about hip-width apart
  • Keep your chest up, back flat, shoulders back
  • Hinge at the hips to lower your torso until it’s almost parallel to the floor
  • Grip the bar with hands about shoulder-width, arms extended
  • Take a big breath, brace your core, and drive through your heels to lift the weight

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Does a Smith machine bar weigh less than a regular barbell?

Smith machine bars typically weigh around half of a standard barbell, approximately 10kg. The machine’s design provides hooks for reracking and safety stops, enhancing stability and safety during workouts, especially for beginners.

2. Is the weight of a Smith machine bar 45 lbs?

The weight of Smith machine bars can range from as light as 6 lbs to as heavy as 45 lbs. However, most bars fall within the 15-25 lbs range.

3. Does a Smith machine reduce the weight lifted?

While the bar on a Smith machine isn’t necessarily lighter, the machine’s supports decrease resistance. Therefore, compared to a standard 45 lb barbell, the perceived weight on a Smith machine is typically 10-15 lbs less.

4. What is the actual weight lifted on a Smith machine?

Weights felt on a Smith machine often vary from actual weights due to factors such as resistance and machine supports. Ultimately, the Smith machine’s barbell may add between 5 and 45 pounds to your lift. Thus, if a weight feels heavier, in the context of your workout, it effectively is.

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