Smith machines unlike some rack or simple free weights are a complex mechanism with moving parts in them. They are the safest way to perform all powerlifting moves.
The Smith machine weight bar is attached to clamps, bearings, guide bar, and rollers, so you cannot just check its weight on a weighing scale like you could with a free weight Olympic bar.
Also, while exercising using the Smith machine, the bar weight won’t be the only thing resisting your movement. there are other factors like the angle of the movement, friction, counterbalance weights, etc. that would resist or assist your movement.
So, in the case of the Smith machine bar, it is better to know the effective weight of the Smith bar considering all the relevant factors makes more sense than knowing the absolute weight of the bar.
The weight of all the plates you are loading on the Smith machine isn’t directly transferred only on the bar. Hence the bar doesn’t need to be as strong as the free Olympic bar.
Moreover, only beginners and intermediate level lifters use the Smith machine for rep max lifts. The advanced level lifters prefer using the Smith machine for accessory work at low or moderate intensity. Thus, the weight of the Smith machine bar is usually lesser than the Olympic bar.
While the 7ft Olympic weighs 44 pounds (20 Kgs), the average bar weight of the Smith machine bar is between 30 to 35 pounds. In this weight lifting equipment guide, we have elaborated on the different factors affecting the effective weight of the Smith machine bar and the bar weight of different popular machines.
How much does the bar on a Smith machine weigh?
Even though the Smith machine bar doesn’t need to handle all the weight of the plates by itself, it should be strong enough to be able to do so. The Smith machine bars are made to deliver that much strength.
The bare bar, if removed from the Smith and weighed, would weigh around 30-40 pounds (13.6 to 18.1 Kgs). The machine manufacturers try to keep the effective weight of the Smith bar around 15 pounds (6.8 Kgs) with counterbalance weights and angle motion.
Counterbalanced Smith Machines
Some of the Smith machines have added counterbalance weights to negate the weight of the Smith bar. There is a pulley at the top that has a rope going over it which is connected to the bar at one end and balancing weights at the other end.
The counterbalancing weights act against the weight of the Smith machine barbell by pulling it up with a force equal to their weight. Even though the weight of the Smith machine barbell is about 30 pounds in weight the counterbalancing weights reduce the effective weight of the bar.
Though they can do it, they don’t balance the weight of the Smith machine barbell with offset weights. Doing that would cause the bar to smash against the top or bottom with just a small bump.
Most of the commercially available counterbalanced Smith machines have an effective bar weight of 15 pounds (6.8 Kgs).
Along with the counterbalance weights, the effective weight of the bar in a counterbalanced Smith machine is also affected by the speed of the movement. As you lift the bar upwards the offset weights move downwards at the end of the move the counterbalance weight makes a sudden stop, the momentum they have achieved just before that stop works against the weight of the loaded bar and thus further reducing the effective weight of the Smith machine bar.
There is also spring action that affects the effective weight of the bar. The spring is installed to reduce the jerks and impact at the start and end of the move.
All the calculations of changes in effective weight of the bar due to momentum transfer and spring action are too complicated and the effect is not too much. So, you can consider the average bar weight of the Smith machine as 15 pounds (6.8 Kgs) for all practical purposes.
Smith Machines without Counter-Weights
By the looks, length, weight plate compatibility, and weight capacity the Smith machine bar is almost like the Olympic weightlifting bar. Other than the fact that the Smith machine bar is fixed on the machine to move in a fixed movement pattern unlike the free Olympic bar, the only difference that there might be is of the material used for making the bar.
As opposed to the Olympic weightlifting bar, the Smith machine bar is supported by clamps, slides, and bearings, so it doesn’t need the same tensile strength as the Olympic bar to carry the same amount of weight. Thus, the strength and weight of the Smith machine bar are lesser than the standard Olympic bar.
While the Olympic barbells are heavy and most of them weigh 44 pounds (20 Kgs) the weight of the non-counterbalanced Smith machine bars is between 30 to 40 pounds (13.6 to 18.1 Kgs).
Angled Smith Machines
Angled Smith machines come in both types, with and without counterbalancing weight. The machines without the counterbalancing weights have barbells weighing about 30-40 pounds.
The angled Smith machines with counterbalance weights have similar barbells but the effective weight of the bar is the resultant of Smith machines bar weight and the offset weight forces.
In this case, you can’t just subtract the counterbalance weights from the weight of the bar to get the effective weight of the smith machine bar. As the effective force of the offset weight on the weight of the bar is a vector component in the direction of Smith bar movement. This component is lesser than the actual weight of the counterbalance.
The manufacturers choose the counterweight considering the effect of angle of movement so as to keep the effective weight of the Smith machine bar equal to or near to 15 pounds (6.8 Kgs)
How much does the bar weigh on a Marcy smith machine?
The angled Marcy Diamond Elite MD-9010G Smith machine doesn’t have a counterbalance weight. The weight of the barbell for this machine is merely 25 pounds (11.3 Kgs). This bar can support up to 400 pounds of weight.
How much does the bar weigh on a Nautilus smith machine?
The Nautilus Smith machine is another example of an angled Smith machine without counterbalancing weights. The bar of this Smith machine is so lightweight that it doesn’t need any offset weight. The bar weighs only 15.4 pounds (7 Kgs).
How much does the bar weigh on a Matrix smith machine?
The Matrix Magnum MG-PL62 does not include the bar in the package. If you buy the recommended bar separately and add it to the machine with balancing weights, then you will get the bar that is counterbalanced to an effective weight of 25 pounds (11.3 Kgs).
How much does the bar weigh on a Hammer Strength smith machine?
The Hammer strength Smith machine bar follows a path at 7 degrees angle to the vertical which closest to the angle of natural motion. The bar weighs 20 pounds (9 Kgs) and can support up to 650 pounds (295 Kgs) of the load.
How much does the bar weigh on a Body Solid smith machine?
Series Body Solid Smith machine has a large diameter quick to respond bar that is suitable for any level of lifters. The bar weighs only 25 pounds (11.3 Kgs).
How much does the smith machine bar weigh at La Fitness?
The angled Smith machine bar at the LA fitness can take enough weight to support your high-intensity workouts. At the same time, the Smith machine can be used to perform exercises at starting weight of 20 pounds (9 Kgs) only, as the weight of this Smith machine bar is just 20pounds.
How much does a smith machine bar weigh at Planet Fitness?
The solid heavy-duty Smith machine at Planet fitness has a strong bar installed on it. The weight of the Planet Fitness Smith machine bar is 20 pounds (9.07 Kg).
How much does a Life Fitness smith machine bar weigh?
The Life fitness Smith machine is constructed with an aim to provide an experience close to the free weight movement. To mimic the move as close as possible even the weight of the bar is kept similar to the Olympic bar. The weight of the Life fitness Smith machine bar is 44 pounds (20 Kgs).
The starting weight of the smith machine bar
The effective Smith machines bar weight is the minimum weight with which you can perform any exercise on the machine. Different machines have different bar weights. You can refer to this fitness equipment guide to find out the bar weight of many popular Smith machines.
If you don’t know the exact weight of the bar of your Smith machine then you can assume an approximate average bar weight as 15 pounds (6.8 Kgs) for counterbalanced machines and 30 (13.6 Kgs) pounds for non-balanced machines.
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