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Smith Machine in US: Culture, Market and Trend

Smith machines are a familiar strength and resistance equipment in gyms around the globe. This equipment is greatly utilized both in a commercial setting and in home gyms. Throughout the years since the smith machine was introduced to the market, many athletes, trainers, and regular gym goers in the United States have fallen in love with this gym equipment. Today, there are a lot of fitness enthusiasts in the US who are fond of using the gym equipment because it aids in a lot of different gym exercises, especially during the time of COVID-19. 

There has been a lot of innovation with regard to smith machines over the past few years, hence it is important to know the changes in the trends and market to understand today’s value of smith machines. To be more specific, in order to know the state of Smith Machine in the US, this article will discuss the culture, the history, the usage, the market, and the trend of this famous gym equipment. 

(Source: Elements.Envato.com)

What is a Smith Machine?

In every gym that one goes to, there is definitely a distinctive ambiance, with a different combination of machines. In most cases, depending on the gym, the accessibility of gym equipment may be regulated based on mastery of the gym members. However, no matter what gym, the smith machine is definitely a staple gym equipment. 

The Smith Machine is a machine that utilizes a pulley system in order to move the weight. Compared to a free-weight machine where the bar can be removed from the rack and moved on its own, the smith machine bar follows a fixed vertical path. With that, the Smith Machine is famous among beginners because the pulley system travels the weight in a way that is easier to work out.

Smith machines are intended to be centered on precise barbell training. It comprises mainly vertical movements, permitting for a small number of variabilities in exercise. The fixed movement means that the barbell does not require to be balanced by one person. It will only move up and down, not sideways or backwards. This offers a sense of safety, particularly when you consider that the bar cannot be dropped. In addition to that, the smith machine bar can also be twisted so that the hooks on the machine can attach to the rack. This also decreases the risk of injury. Another pro of the Smith Machine is its ability to isolate muscle groups during exercise. The limited range of motion means that any isolated exercise can be performed with an emphasis on form, without the fear of the bar going into another direction. The Smith Machine can be used for squats, bench press, bicep curls, and deadlifts to name a few exercises. 

History of Smith Machine In The US (From then to Now)

A fitness enthusiast named Francois Henri “Jack” LaLanne was responsible for the creation of the Smith Machine.  He was famous for being an inspiration and motivational speaker for being able to turn his life around after a difficult time as a teenager. He is also a well-known advocate of upholding America’s overall health. Throughout his career. he greatly emphasized that the America’s health strongly relied on how healthy its people were and encouraged people to think more about physical health and nutrition 

LaLanne became significantly famous when he started publicly preaching regarding the health benefits of regular exercise and a good diet. He also became really famous because of the numerous books he wrote on fitness, and The Jack LaLanne Show he hosted for about 35 years. In fact, because of his enthusiasm in fitness and health, he opened America’s first fitness gym in Oakland, California in 1936. Following his footsteps, many more people opened similar gyms all over the country that carried his name.

Jack Lalanne is definitely one of the most influential men in the American fitness industry. However, his greatest contribution to fitness are definitely not his books but his creation of the Smith Machine. In the early 1950’s Jack invented what became the basis of the Smith Machine. He had this idea when he desired gym equipment that would permit him to train safely with a barbell when someone is not around to assist or spot him. He developed a gym equipment that could slide onto itself so people could squat with free weights. He designed it in such a way that it would be safer and easier for people to perform the squat exercises. 

The Smith Machine was just one of the machine ideas from Jack LaLanne. In a career spanning over five decades, he was credited with inventing and popularizing a series of machines now seen in gyms throughout the globe, from the leg extension machine to the cable crossover. Lalanne always wanted to develop and innovate the fitness business in order to find new and improved ways to challenge his clients. So, whether one likes it or not, the Smith Machine is definitely a proof of Jack’s talent and creativity.

(Source: Pexels.com)

However, as history may put it, it was Rudy Smith and not Jack Lalanne who decided to make Lalanne’s drawing into a tangible machine. Smith asked Lalanne if he could try and design it. Seeing no reason to object, Lalanne gave Smith permission. Rudy wasted no time in obtaining the services of an equipment builder by the name of Paul Martin in order to make a practical machine. With that, it was actually Rudy Smith who made the first smith machine, based on Jack LaLanne’s design. Smith used his connections with people who ran a series of gym franchises in the US in order to install the Smith Machine. After such time, the Smith Machine has become a staple in nearly all gyms in America nationwide. 

The Smith Machine became a common piece of equipment in American gyms by the 1970s. It served as a lasting tribute to Rudy. The Smith machine became the legacy that would forever bear his last name. In fact, Smith machines became so famous that even Arnold Schwarzenegger used to do Smith Machine Squats, an exercise now mostly utilized by people in the fitness community. 

Why Do People In The US Love The Smith Machine?

The Smith Machine is a common gym equipment found in both the most basic and most well-equipped gyms. Judging from the long line typically observed around the machine its omnipresence should not be a disbelief since it is a famous piece of equipment. So, why do so many fitness enthusiasts in the US gather just to use this muscle building machine? The primary benefits are improved stability and balance, a more efficient workout, and increased muscle isolation. The benefit most often cited is it feels safer to bench without a spotter while using the Smith Assisted Squat machine. Here are more health benefits of the Smith Machine and reasons why people in the US love it so much:

  1. Better form and posture
    The Smith machine allows anyone to perform a number of different exercises. Utilizing it can increase your workout and reduce your risk of injury because the balanced racks permit you to focus on form as well as stability.  When you are benching heavy weights, your stability should evidently be your priority. Not only do you need to evade the humiliation of falling, you also need to avoid letting a wayward weight yank your body out of its alignment. Because the bar goes up and down, rather than forward and back or in a more unwieldy motion, you are provided by the smith machine the comfort of not having to worry about falling or straining forward. With that, you get more controlled movements, while the locked bar indicates that you can also have a better form. In addition to these, the Smith permits you to protect your shoulders, legs, knees, and back from injury. You are also able to more efficiently engage your glutes and hamstrings. Another advantage that you can get is that the shoulder press and chest isolation are easier.
  1. Excellent Safety System 
    The Smith Machine has an inbuilt fail-safe system. The smith machine utilizes rods in order to steady the barbells. The risk of runaway barbells is reduced because the weight is balanced.  In short, that means the Smith machine provides you the confidence to perform exercises greater with fewer risks to your safety. In addition to that, the Smith machine makes it safer for those who do not have a spotter to look out for them during exercise because it can be secured at any point along the vertical bar. In an event that the weight becomes unendurable to the user or in an event where there is sudden body ache or pain along any point of the exercise, one only needs a twist of the wrist in order to latch the barbell in place. Some Smith machines also come with inbuilt devices that can be changed in order to automatically stop the barbell at a fixed height. With these safety measures along with the knowledge about them, one can assure that they are safe when they are performing exercises. Using the Smith machine helps you to avoid some of the injuries associated with some exercise. 
(Source: Elements.envato.com)
  1. More Varied Exercise
    Making sure that fitness plateau does not occur is one of the most vital factors in resistance and weight training. Fitness plateau usually occurs when repetitive and constant exercise is followed. With the Smith machine, this is reduced. The gym equipment allows for variation in weight and sets which add valuable dimension to the fitness program being followed. This is one of the reasons why many people in the US love the smith machine because it can primarily involve multiple joint exercises such front and back squat, unilateral squat, lunges, bench press, shoulder push, and many more. With this wide array of exercise one can choose from when utilizing the Smith Machine, anyone can make sure that all muscles are targeted so that they can all develop, while making sure they do not go into a stagnant state.
  1. More Muscle Isolation 
    One of the primary benefits of the smith machine is that it can be utilized in order to effectively isolate specific muscle groups. This is because it is locked into a fixed plane of motion, and as a result, one does not need to use nearly as numerous stabilizer muscles as one would if he or she was lifting with free weights. This is also why many Americans like to use the Smith machine because it allows them to isolate certain and hard to target muscle groups. 
  1. Work The Muscles Longer
    Another reason why many people in the US use the smith machine is because it can be ideal for hypertrophy training because you can really push the weights and reps until your muscles are absolutely blasted from fatigue. The constant tension plus the heightened isolation of the muscles can result in serious gains, particularly if your goal is hypertrophy.
  1. An All-In-One Gym Equipment Perfect For Home Gym
    Many people are second guessing if they should start their fitness journey because of the simple reason of not being comfortable being in the gym surrounded by many people. One of the reasons why Americans like the smith machine is that it can be purchased for home in order to get the same benefits that you can gain at the gym. Even though there may be more choices for equipment at the gym, the Smith Machine can still help in providing you convenience and comfort of working out at the safe space of your own home, without the requirement of a spotter. Furthermore, the smith machine is considered an all-in-one gym equipment, so it is perfect for varied exercises to be done at home.  

    In addition to that, many people in the US just started to venture into performing more physical activity. With that, this machine is greatly beneficial to them. It helps in performing exercises involving heavy weights. Most trainers in the US actually recommend utilizing the smith machine to casual and inexperienced lifters because they do not know how to perform free weight exercises yet. Hence, many family members and relatives in the US who never really go to the gym frequently, can utilize this machine in order to begin their fitness journey. 

What Exercises Do People In The US Perform In The Smith Machine?

For people not in the US, but also for others around the globe, building muscle power is vital irrespective of whether one’s objective is to improve athleticism, increase muscle strength, build muscle mass, or even drop body fat. In other words, everyone should be incorporating power exercises into their workouts.  Many people in the US are fond of using the Smith Machine for power exercises that can essentially be performed utilizing any exercise completed with light weight and fast reps. Though multi-joint exercises including the squat, row, or bench press work best, single-joint exercises like the barbell curl are also effective, especially for muscle groups that do not have many multi-joint exercises, such as biceps and calves. Performing these types of exercises are the reasons why people in the US like using the smith machine. 

However, in order to elaborate further, here are some of the most performed exercises in the smith machine:

  1. Bench Press
    One of the first exercises that people in the US do when using the Smith machine is the bench press. The specific muscle groups targeted when performing the smith machine bench press are the shoulders, chest, triceps, and forearms muscles. Others may argue that research studies have shown that one can lift more total weight on the barbell bench press than one can on the Smith machine bench press. However, experts suggest that one should start the barbell bench press towards the beginning of his or her chest workouts in order to go heavier and put more overload on the pecs to promote greater muscle growth and strength gains. However, later on in the workout, after one has become more fatigued, he or she should consider performing the Smith machine bench presses in order to place better focus specifically on the pecs. One can have greater emphasis placed on the pecs because the pecs need less help from the deltoids when performing the Smith machine bench press. This results in greater muscle growth.

    In order to perform the Smith Machine exercises, ​​you should first set up a flat or low-incline bench under the gym equipment. After that, adjust your position so it contacts the lower part of your chest at the bottom. Next, you should set your back and feet in a way that you would on any bench press, and feel free to take the bar for a ride. The advantage of the Smith machine is that the track can frequently dull the downward momentum. At the top of each rep, take advantage of that and stop just short of a full extension. This results in a better pump due to the constant tension. 
  1. Quad-Dominant Squat
    Another exercise performed by Americans in the Smith machine is the Quad-Dominant Squat. The conventional barbell back squat works both the glutes and quadriceps in each repetition. However, the balance needed in order to do the exercise entails that the muscle groups must do a comparatively similar amount of work to prevent tipping forward or backward. The glutes and hamstrings basically perform an opposite function to the quadriceps on the front as they are located on the back side of your legs. Your hamstrings and glutes are actually large drivers of acceleration and your quads are immense providers to deceleration. So, whether users in America are athlete or simply just want more quadricep definition, they utilize the quad-dominant squats in the smith machine because it can aid them in tweaking the traditional back squat in order to activate the front leg muscles. Because users can lean back against the bar and because the machine is not going to tip over, they can get their feet in front of you in a different stance than if they are performing a regular barbell squat. Free weights have a center of mass over the base of support. However, the smith machine allows anyone to get their feet out in front and focus on their quads more. 
    (Source: Elements.Envato.com)

    So, if you want to try the quad-dominant front squat, first assume a normal back squat position on the Smith machine. However, step forward a little so that your shins are vertical to the floor at the bottom of the movement.

  1. Lateral Raise

    The classic dumbbell lateral raise is one of the most effective single-joint exercises for building up the middle head of the deltoid. However, the Smith Machine Lateral raise can offer even better results than dumbbells. This is why many people in the US utilize this exercise in the Smith machine. 

    The Smith machine is ideal for this exercise because it removes the forearms from the equation and puts the focus straight on the middle delts. In addition to that, the Smith machine lateral raise is perfect for those with problems in their wrist or hand making it difficult for them to perform the dumbbell lateral raise without pain. It also makes a great alternative for the machine lateral raise in case that your gym does not have one. 

    In order to perform the Smith machine lateral raise, you should first place light weight on the bar of a Smith machine and set the bar just above waist height. After that, you should stand in the middle of the Smith machine with your left arm touching the bar. Next, you should bend your arm at the elbow 90 degrees so that your forearm is equal with the bar. After doing so, you should begin to unlatch the bar with your right hand and support the weight with your left forearm. Maintaining the bend at your elbow, raise your arm up to lift the bar to about shoulder height. You should hold this position for about a second, contracting your deltoid as hard as you can, then slowly lower the bar back down to just above waist height, keeping the bar in contact with your forearm the entire time. You should complete all reps with one arm and then repeat in the same manner with your other arm.
  1. Inverted Row
    The Smith machine inverted row is a type of bodyweight exercise targeting the muscles of the Latissimus dorsi and upper back, utilizing the bar of the Smith machine to hang and pull from. This is also another type of exercise that Americans usually perform in the Smith machine. 

    In order to perform the Smith machine inverted row, you should first position the bar in the smith machine at waist height. After that, take a wider than shoulder width grip on the bar and position yourself hanging underneath the bar. It should be noted that your body should be straight with your heels on the ground with your arms fully extended. This is considered as your starting position. After that, begin by flexing the elbow, pulling your chest towards the bar. Then, retract your shoulder blades as you perform the movement. You should pause at the top of the motion, and return yourself to the start position. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions. You can also change the bar height in order to customize the difficulty level and desired angle of the row. This variation is typically done for moderate to high reps, such as 8-12 reps per set or more.

Smith Machine Market Summary In The USA

Under COVID-19 flare-up extensively, the Smith Machine manufacturers have seen an increase in their sales. This is strongly attributed to the fact that many people are more comfortable now staying at performing strength and resistance exercises at home due to the risks brought about by the Pandemic. 

(Source: Elements.envato.com)

According to Smith machine market study, over the next five years, the Smith Machines market will register a significant amount of revenue in the US. In addition to that, the global market size will also reach a sumptuous amount in Million US dollars by 2024 and 2027. 

In addition to that, according to market analysis, Inspire Fitness, Body Solid, Yukon Fitness, Marcy, Valor Athletics, PowerLine, Champion Barbell are some of the top key players in the Smith Machine US Market. Experts agree that as long as the leading players primarily focus on technological advancements in their Smith Machine products to improve its efficiency, more and more consumers will still invest in the equipment in the next following years. The long-term development patterns for this market can be captured by continuing the ongoing process improvements and financial stability to invest in the best strategies.

Best Smith Machines Available In The US Market

There are different types and styles of Smith Machine available in the US Market. From basic machines to complete self-contained home gyms, there are certainly a wide variety of Smith Machines one can choose in the US. However, there are definitely Smith Machines that Americans are really fond of. With that in mind, here are some of the best smith machines in the US market in 2021: 

  1. Body-Solid SCB1000 Pro Clubline Counter-Balanced Smith Machine for Weight Training, Home and Commercial GymBody Solid is an American distributor and manufacturer of home and commercial strength and conditioning equipment. Body Solid is famous for producing home gyms, smith machines, racks, and other fitness associated equipment. 

    The Body Solid SCB1000 Pro Clubline Counterbalanced Smith Machine is a famous smith machine in the US because it offers the safety and control for all the free weight workouts. It comes with a counterbalance capacity of about 6 pounds. Also, it permits any person irrespective of their fitness level to start working out with a fitting amount of resistance. The Body Solid Smith machine serves for a number of different exercises including chest press, bench press, military press, lunges, curles, shoulder shrugs, and squats. It ensures that the user moving the weight is in the proper form and removes the need for a spotter because the smith machine comes with the reverse pitch and vertical carriage. Also, the Body Solid SCB1000 Pro Clubline Counterbalanced Smith Machine comes with Six Olympic Weight Plate Storage posts that store all your plates off the floor for easy access.
  1. MiM USA Compact Smith Machine and Squat Rack All in One Smith Workout Squat Dip Up Sit Up Home Gym Super Pro Multi Functions Rack
    MiM USA is another famous manufacturer in the US. This company focuses on producing products for people’s well-being, happiness, and overall health improvement. It focuses on collaborating with the industry’s best designers in order to design and produce efficient fitness equipment to be used for both home and commercial gyms. MiM USA pledges for a smooth checkout and delivery experience with all products at all times. 

    Many people in the US like the MiM USA Compact Smith Machine and Squat Rack All in One Smith Workout Squat Dip Up Sit Up Home Gym Super Pro Multi Functions Rack as it comes with a bench along with the whole machine. It also allows a very wide range of exercises that users can perform without the need to buy more additional equipment or accessories. The four-track pulley system permits you to simply alter the lifts that you desire to do. From Squats to shrugs, rows to bench press, and leg curls to hamstring curls, the MiM USA’s Smith Machine provides you a complete solution for all home workout requirements people need in the US. 
  1. ICON Fitness Weider PRO 8500 Smith Cage 
    The ICON Fitness Weider PRO 8500 Smith Cage is also another famous smith machine in the US. The manufacturer and developer, ICON Fitness, is famous for their exercise equipment. In fact, they have 250 patents on all their equipment. This allows them to have a broad range of brands, products, and technologies in order to produce the leading-edge products to help all fitness enthusiasts to reach their fitness goals. 

    The ICON Fitness’s Smith Cage provides a multi-functional pulley system and an adjustable bench to offer users a full body workout. The weight bench has a weight load capacity of 300lbs and has a 6-part foam leg holder that permits users on to the variety of workouts that they can perform.  In addition to that, the bench is also easily removable, letting anyone use the fly station, pulldown station, cable crossover station, rowing station and leg curls, more easily. There are also 4 weight posts for weight plate storage so that there are proper places where one can store weight plates.
  1. Marcy Smith Cage Machine with Workout Bench and Weight Bar Home Gym Equipment
    Marcy Pro is a well-known manufacturer of gym equipment for more than 35 years. One of their most famous products in the USA is the Marcy SM-4008 which is considered to be an affordable all-in-one home gym smith machine. The smith machine is a cage that lets anyone perform a combination of exercises using the pull up bar, smith bar, leg holder, and cable crossovers. The body of gym equipment is made with heavy duty steel with aircraft cables that have a tensile strength of approximately 2000lbs. Furthermore, the smith bar has several adjustable levels that permits users to perform bench press, squat, and deadlift. Marcy Pro also offers a number of different accessories for their smith cage to let users add variety towards their workouts. These accessories include hand grips, ankle straps, and handle bars for the cable pulling system. 
  1. FORCE USA Monster G3 Power Rack, Functional Trainer & Smith Machine Combo Base
    Force USA put emphasis on home and light commercial fitness product usage, producing the top value strength equipment. All of the products are made in the USA, meeting strict quality requirements, to ensure all your products are durable and sturdy. One of the most famous products of the company that Americans purchase frequently is the Force USA Monster Smith Machine. Due to the number of features that are installed into it, the Force USA Monster Smith Machine is created for advanced fitness individuals. 

    The Force USA Monster Smith Machine comes with a steel power rack that includes commercial grade J Hooks and Safety that can be adjusted up and attached to 50 different number points so users locate their ideal position for performing exercises such as bench pressing, squatting, and many more.  The functional trainer component permits more than 75 different exercises through adjusting height positions and the variety of accessories that comes with it. The company made sure that each component is angled and designed for natural body movement in order to reduce the risk of injury. These additional components include a Chin Up Station, Landmine Station, Band Pegs, Attachment Storage, Barbel Storage, and Safety Spotter Arms. They also permit other attachments that can be bought such as leg press, stability bar, lat pull down seat, cambered bar, and v-type handles.

References: 

  1. Black, J. 2013. The Machine Age, 1960s-1970s. Making the American Body: The Remarkable Saga of the Men and Women Whose Feats, Feuds, and Passions Shaped Fitness History. University of Nebraska Press. p. 49.
  2. Caliber Strong. 2020. Should You Use The Smith Machine?. Retrieved from: https://caliberstrong.com/blog/should-you-use-the-smith-machine/. Retrieved on 20 September 2021. 
  3. Aaptiv. 2020. Why the Smith Machine May Be Worth Your While. Retrieved from: https://aaptiv.com/magazine/smith-machine. Retrieved on 20 September 2021. 
  4. Jim Stoppani. 2021. Jim’s Ultimate Smith Machine Exercise Guide. Retrieved from: https://www.jimstoppani.com/training/ultimate-smith-machine-exercise-guide. Retrieved on 20 September 2021. 
  5. Market Watch. 2021. Smith Machines Market Report Overview 2021, Industry Size, Top Leading Manufacturers with Share 2026. Retrieved from: https://www.marketwatch.com/press-release/smith-machines-market-report-overview-2021-industry-size-top-leading-manufacturers-with-share-2026-2021-08-31. Retrieved on 20 September 2021. 
  6. Physical Culture Study. 2015. The History of the Smith Machine. Retrieved from: https://physicalculturestudy.com/2015/12/15/the-history-of-the-smith-machine/. Retrieved on 20 September 2021. 
  7. Runners World. 2021. A Guide to the Benefits of Using a Smith Machine. Retrieved from: https://www.runnersworld.com/training/a35526106/a-guide-to-the-smith-machine/. Retrieved on 20 September 2021. 
  8. Sports Consumer. 2021. The 6 Best Smith Machines for 2021 : Home & Commercial Gyms. Retrieved from: https://sportconsumer.com/best-smith-machines/. Retrieved on 20 September 2021.
  9. The Wired Shopper. 2021. Ultimate Review Of Best Smith Machines In 2021. Retrieved from: https://thewiredshopper.com/best-smith-machines-to-buy/. Retrieved on 20 September 2021. 
  10. WOD Review. 2021. Best Smith Machines Review In 2021 [Review and Buying Guide]. Retrieved from: https://wodreview.com/equipment/best-smith-machines. Retrieved on 20 September 2021.

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