Smith Cable Rack Buying Guide

Smith Cable Racks (SCR) – a Smith MachineHalf Rack, and Functional Trainer combined into one compact unit – have grown in popularity in recent years. They offer an incredible amount of exercise variety in an extremely compact space.

In my opinion, this was the downfall of the early designs. Having loads of exercises makes marketing these gyms easy, but training in them can sometimes feel crowded.

Whenever there is a design issue to be solved, IFS (manufacturers of ATX, Barbarian Line & Megatec) step up to the plate. Their design and engineering facility in German is second to none. They have proven this time and time again with new products and revisions to old ones.

But when it comes to Smith Cable Racks, they have really hit it out of the park. The big issue now is that you are spoilt by choice. With the current offerings and configurations, there are now 4 choices.

Looking at our website you might be bamboozled by choice. However, if we have broken down the features of each configuration it is relatively easy to work out which setup will work best for you. They are roughly sorted below by price.

We have also put all the specs and features into table form to assist you with your comparison:

FeaturesOption 1Option 2Option 3Option 4
Width200 cm165 cm / 200 cm200 cm200 cm
Depth223 cm144 cm223 cm236 cm
Height220 cm230 cm220 cm230 cm
Weight256 kg393 kg385 kg674 kg
J-Hook Capacity250 kg300 kg250 kg300 kg
Spotter Arm Capacity250 kg300 kg250 kg300 kg
Resistance Band Training
Smith MachineNylon BushesLinear BearingsNylon BushesLinear Bearings
Smith Guide Rails25 mm30 mm25 mm30 mm
Smith Machine Capacity200 kg300 kg200 kg300 kg
Functional Trainer WeightSingle Plate LoadedDual-Stack WeightSingle Stack WeightDual-Stack Weight
Functional Trainer Ratio2:11:12:11:1
Functional Trainer Capacity160 kg55kgs/side stack125 kg55kgs/side stack
Lat Pulldown Ratio1:1n/a1:11:1
Lat Pulldown Capacity160 kgn/a125 kg (stack)125 kg (stack)
Chin Up Capacity200 kg250 kg200 kg250 kg
Weight Storage Horns8 (4/side)n/a8 (4/side)10 (5/side)
CertificationEN 20957 I.II.IV
Class H
EN 20957 I.II.IV
Class S
EN 20957 I.II.IV
Class H
EN 20957 I.II.IV
Class S

Option 1 – ATX® Smith Cable Rack Plate Loaded (ATX-SCR-680-PL)

Previously known as Megatec Smith Cable Rack Plate Loaded (MT-SCR-PL), has received a small color update during the rebranding/consolidation of the brands by IFS (The manufacturer of ATX, Barbarian Line & Megatec).

The most affordable way to perform a nearly endless list of quality exercises.

If you want it all, but you are on a budget, then this will be the option. Perfect for someone who is into bodybuilding and wants multiple exercises to hit each body part.

To get to this price point, they use the same Nylon Bushings that are used on the Megatec Smith Machine. On the Barbarian Smith Machines, the lifting bar runs on linear bearings. For those of you who are not mechanically minded, I will explain the difference in the Tech Talk section at the end of the article.

The other main difference between the Barbarian and Megatec machines is that the Functional Trainer on the Megatec SCR runs off the single lat pulldown carriage or weight stack. On the Barbarian machines, the Functional Trainer runs off independent or dual weight stacks/carriages.

The difference will also be explained in the Tech Talk section below.

Option 2 – ATX® Smith Cable Rack Weight Stack (ATX-SCR-760-SW)

Previously sold under the name of Barbarian Line Smith Cable Rack Stack Weight (BB-SDPR-GR-SW).

Three commercial quality machines in one – Smith Machine, Half Rack & Functional Trainer.

If you are a personal trainer who is tight on space, then I would recommend this machine. It offers so many quality exercises for your clients, along with durability and safety. The convenience of the weight stack will make it easier for you to train multiple clients.

Alternatively, if you are a home trainer who wants a treat and already has a stand-alone lat machine (or want to get one), this is a great way to get three machines in one – Smith Machine, Half Rack, and Functional Trainer. Unlike the early smith cable rack designs, none of these platforms are compromised. All have the feel of a dedicated machine.

If you intend on using the lat pulldown hack mentioned above, remember that you will be limited to 55kgs.

Option 3 – ATX® Smith Cable Rack Stack Weight (ATX-SCR-680-SW)

Formerly called Megatec Smith Cable Rack Stack Weight (MT-SCR-SW).

A complete multi gym system with weight stack.

Multi Gyms with weight stacks normally are a turn-off for the serious weight trainer. But this combination gets you under the barbell, whether it is on the half-rack or smith machine.

This really is a complete home gym system and would offer years of training with endless variation. Forget about a complicated cable home gym. With this Smith Cable Rack, you can do all the essential compound movements with complete safety. Then finish yourself with isolation exercises performed with the convenience of a stack weight Functional Trainer.

Option 4 – ATX® Smith Cable Rack System Weight Stack (ATX-SCR-760-KPS-SW)

Precedently named Barbarian Smith Cable Rack System Stack Weight (BBP-SDPR-GR-KPS-SW).

If you have the money and the space, this is the ultimate gym set up.

Although this might seem super expensive when you factor in a bench, weight, barbells, cable attachments & delivery, you will have to trust me that this is the ultimate in-home weight training.

You are getting multiple commercial standard machines, all in an uncompromised format. Ahead of you will be years of training that will make you never want to set foot in a gym again.

Now, this is the option for the home trainer where money and space are not a concern. This is also suitable for a personal trainer who is tight on space and needs one machine to do it all.


Linear Bearings vs Nylon Bushes

Running a barbell loaded with weight plates up and down steel guide rails is challenging on its own. Where it gets even trickier is making it smooth and reliable.

Early smith machines were almost exclusively for commercial gyms as they were costly to produce. You could justify using high-quality bearings that were required to make the machine run smooth for years.

Over the years as the cost of manufacturing has reduced along with the price of components like bearings, we have seen an increase in more affordable smith machines.

When comparing smith cable racks with our competitors you may find some cheaper versions boasting linear bearings. Beware!

Linear bearings offer a better experience than nylon bushes, but at a price. It is not just the quality of the bearings that need to be adequate, but also the guide rails upon which they slide up and down.

Cheap bearings feel cheap. And they fail.

Cheap guide rails are where it gets interesting. If they don’t use appropriate hardened steel the bearings will start wearing into the guide rails. Over time the lifting bar will seize and become inoperable.

This is where the German development team at IFS came up with the nylon bushes for their Megatec Smiths. You can get a quality smith machine experience at a much more affordable price than Barbarian units that have linear bearings.

Instead of opting for cheaper bearings and guide rails that fail, they developed a bushing system that is both smooth and heavy-duty. It has been tried and tested for years in the Megatec Smith Machine. If you are on a budget and really want a Smith Machine, then I strongly recommend this version.

Dual Carriage vs Single Carriage Functional Trainer

The other area where the Megatec Smith Cable Rack saves a chunk of money is by utilizing the lat pulldown weight carriage or stack. This saves some money, but you don’t have dual carriage functionality.

On the Barbarian Smith Cable Rack, each weight stack operates independently. The best way to describe this is that it is like using dumbbells. Each arm has its own separate source of resistance.

On the Megatec Smith Cable Rack, the resistance on the functional trainer for both handles comes from the single lat pulldown carriage. If you have not seen or used one before this might sound ridiculous. But for years Powertec utilized this system on their stand-alone Functional Trainer.

You are probably thinking that this will lead to strength imbalances? Just like training with a barbell or a leverage gym, if you train with the correct form and don’t try to lift a weight that is too heavy for you, you will not notice a difference.

From my experience, it can promote correct form. Just like when you are pressing with a barbell, you get feedback when you are not applying equal force with each arm.

But most importantly, and just like the Nylon Bush vs Linear Bearing discussion, a quality single carriage Functional Trainer will always be superior to a cheap dual carriage Functional Trainer.

Cheap Functional Trainers will have notchy or varied resistance.

To keep the price of these dual carriage Functional Trainers down, they utilize cheap pulleys and cables which fail. How do we know? We have a thriving gym cable manufacturing service along with a gym parts business!


In our comparisons above, I have not included the Barbarian Monster Gym. Why? For the simple reason, I do not really like it, and I am firm in my principle that I won’t sell or recommend something that I wouldn’t use myself.

This is not to say that the Monster Gym is bad. At the time of its development, it was groundbreaking in its design. However, in the gym equipment game, it is hard to stay at the top with all the innovation that is going on and this is what has happened to the Monster.

After we set up the first Barbarian Smith Cable Rack, I realized that the days of the Monster were over. The Smith Cable Rack was just better. As you can see in the diagram below the footprint was very similar (without the lat pulldown option), but the Smith Cable Rack just seemed way bigger.

You feel like you are training on a full-sized Smith Machine. Whereas the Monster I just felt a little squeezed by the tapered design.

With advancements in design and manufacturing, the Smith Cable Rack just felt so much more solid. Not that you would ever break a Monster, the Barbarian unit just blows people away at how rigid it is. It is very impressive.

You also can expand on the Smith Cable Rack with the Lat Pulldown Option. Even though you might not have the space or money at the time, having the option for when circumstances change is an added bonus.

The 2:1 ratio on the Monster’s Functional Trainer set up meant that it needed 2 x 100kg weight stacks. Even though you would only get a maximum of 50kg per stack resistance. This added to the cost of the machine, with the only return being that you could make 2.5kg increments in weight.


To be completely honest we have been struggling to keep up with the pace of development from ATX. New machines, weights, benches, and barbells are being released on a monthly and sometimes even weekly basis.

This usually leads to a wave of messages from weight training enthusiasts asking us when we are going to stock that particular piece. Obviously, we try to get as many of the new releases down in Australia as possible, but we are also limited by space in our warehouse.

We analyze the sales data which we’ve gathered over the years and keep the most desired models, this way we can offer a vast range of equipment without having to pile it on top of each other.

The models listed below have either been discontinued or rebranded by ATX or they simply weren’t that popular here in Australia.


Now known as ATX Monster Full-Functional Gym (ATX-MFR-720) has been the first Smith Cable Rack type of gym from ATX to find its way to Australia.

It was and still is a phenomenal weight training machine that allows the user to perform countless weight training exercises in an exceptionally compact footprint. While you would not have been able to break the world powerlifting records, you could still build some serious mass.

But it did lack the commercial feeling as the stations have been compromised in order to squeeze them into the most compact footprint. The 2:1 ratio halved the 100 kg weight stacks, the offset smith machine also could have felt a tad better.

The assembly process was also quite challenging, it took two people as much as 6 hours to assemble it.

It did come with a load of included attachments so you could train the minute you assemble the machine. But the problem with that was that the customer would not use all of them, but was still forced to pay for them.

Would I recommend the Barbarian Monster Multi Gym to you now?

Probably not, the compromised stations and the illusion of the space-saving design combined with an excess amount of included accessories should make you question whether the price tag is justifiable.

Regarding the illusion of the space-saving design, the Olympic weight storage horns are located at the rear of the machine, which means that if you decide to chuck it in the corner, you will have to abandon the idea of using them. And if you do want to use them you’ll have to keep the machine 40-50cm off the wall.

The German engineers have since released a fair few different variants of the Smith Cable Racks. Which do not suffer from any of the problems the Original Monster gym has faced. They feature a 1:1 cable ratio, a smoother smith machine, are far sturdier, and do not feel claustrophobic.


Now known as ATX Smith Cable Rack (ATX-SCR-760-PL), was the very first Smith Cable Rack we set up in our showroom. We didn’t even start tightening the bolts and we were already impressed with its stability.

We only stopped stocking this variant because of the weight of the carriages. Each of them weighs 8.6 kgs, chuck the Olympic adaptors on them and you are looking at 9.5 kgs starting weight. This may not seem like too much, but you also have to remember that this machine does not suffer from mechanical advantage and you are lifting the true weight.

While pretty much everyone could lat pulldown or cable row the 9.5 kgs, not everyone could comfortably use the starting weight for exercises such as cable chest fly, front cable shoulder raise, or shoulder rehab work.

If you wanted to ditch the plate-loaded carriage and upgrade it to a pin-loaded version, you were in a bit of trouble. The weight stacks themselves were quite expensive, to chuck them back on the machine, you would have to pretty much disassemble the whole top part of it.

The upgrade would also come without the safety covers or the necessary brackets for mounting them, leaving you with an extended bill, hours of additional assembly work, and a less impressive look.

If you are tight on space or money but need something heavy duty.

Built like a tank and doesn’t take up a lot of space. This unit can not be beaten on price and space – providing you are like me and enjoy changing weight plates between sets. I will cover this in an article later, but basically, if you train by yourself you need to maintain focus. So, get off your phone or stop looking at yourself in the mirror and change plates. It will save you a lot of money too!

The Smith Machine & Half Rack on this unit are of commercial quality. Add in a sweet multi-grip chin up, that is higher than most power cages allowing for full range for most people, and the cost of the gym of this gym is covered with these features alone. Add in the Functional Trainer and you simply have a gym that offers so much functionality.

If space is an issue, and you really want to do lat pulldowns or seated rows, check out our lat pulldown hack. Naturally, it is not as good as a dedicated lat machine, but if you are just after some accessory work it will be more than adequate.

This is the best option if you are tight on space and money. Remember, later if you do have more money and space you can add the lat pulldown option – whether it be plate-loaded or stack weight.


After going through Rebranding, this machine now goes by the name of ATX Smith Cable Rack System (ATX-SCR-760-KPS-PL).

The Mark 1 of the Barbarian Line Smith Cable Rack System Plate Loaded, featured a square guide rail design for both the cable crossover and the lat tower option. The movement was smooth and the thick tubular steel had zero flex in it, which allowed the user to load the weight carriages up to 160 kgs without having to worry about the weight carriage track bending.

The Mark 2 of the Plate-Loaded Smith Cable Racks received updated 20 mm thick solid steel guide rails. Which were coated in a thick layer of hard chrome.

This update made the whole movement significantly smoother and allowed the engineers to reuse the parts from the Pin Loaded version of this machine.

Why is it no longer in stock?

The improvements were great, but due to the reasons mentioned previously in the BBP-SDPR-PL section, we decided to stop importing the plate-loaded versions.

While everyone could easily row/lat pull the 9.5 kgs weight carriage, the same did not apply to the functional trainer part of this machine.


Before you make any purchase decisions based on the following explanation, I stress that it is important that you make sure we are comparing apples to apples……

I would recommend this platform to the gym or studio where there is absolute beasts training. By absolute beasts, I mean people that can lat pull or seated row more than 125kgs. Monsters that can tricep press or cable curl over 55kgs.

To save yourself some embarrassment and most importantly money, please check that you are training on machines with a 1:1 ratio first. By this, I mean that when you are lifting 80kgs for example, you are using 80kgs of force.

There are a lot of machines that have a mechanical advantage due to the arrangement of pulleys. Seasoned lifters will have heard claims of 120kg lat pulldowns. The first time you hear such claims you are immediately impressed – has the person discovered some strength secret?

This beacon of hope comes crashing down when the person hops onto a 1:1 machine and starts struggling with 50kgs!

For the handful of specimens, I am talking to now, by going with this set up you can row or lat pull up to 160kgs. Bicep curls up to 150kgs. You are not restricted by any weight stack capacity.

If you are lifting weight like this, then you will be needing a breather between sets. You will have plenty of time to change weights.

Or if you are not a beast, but like saving money and changing weight plates, you are getting one hell of a gym at a very impressive price.


A combination of the Stack Weight Smith Cable Rack and a Plate Loaded High Low Pulley option.

When we were stocking both the plate-loaded and stack-weight version of the Barbarian Line Smith Cable Racks, we were able to offer multiple combinations of this machine.

For example, this particular combo was ideal for any weight trainer out there. The 2 x 55kg stacks of the Cable Crossover provided more than enough weight for all your crossover exercises, while the plate-loaded lat tower gave you an opportunity to load it up to 160 kgs, all while saving you money!

But this combo did not survive the cut for a couple of reasons. First, we decided against stocking the plate-loaded version of this machine. The second one is a range of great freestanding lat machines, which do not occupy that much of your gym floor space.

A lot of customers simply preferred to opt for the freestanding lat machines as it allowed to either train multiple people at the same time or they wanted to recreate a commercial gym feeling where you would have an abundance of weight training machines.

Don’t get me wrong, the lat tower option does come with a set of folding dip bars and weight plate storage. With the low pulley being directly underneath you, you could hook up a dip belt and use the lat tower to do weighted dips.


I could picture a powerlifter or strongman choosing this configuration. They need the high capacity on rows and cable pulldowns. However, for accessory work they are looking at doing more volume. Or they use the cables for warming up or rehab work.


The last Barbarian Line Smith Cable Rack combo on our discontinued list.

Again, this combination was more orientated towards advanced strength training enthusiasts and bodybuilders and was not really suitable for a general strength trainer. As the cable crossover carriage is a tad too heavy for quite a lot of people.

To put it into perspective, the ~9.5 kgs weight carriage with a 1:1 ratio, would provide resistance as ~19 kgs of your local commercial gyms cable crossover with a 2:1 ratio.


A great balance between convenience and affordability, it even has some advantages over the complete weight stack system (other than price). One of the reasons I am so passionate about plate loading vs stack weight is because I simply don’t see the value in the stack weight. For me the cost of upgrading to the stack weight is minimal – basically assembling the machine. After all these years I haven’t bothered.

For customers, adding stack weights to any machine is expensive. But for a smith cable rack with lat pulldown, you must add three! That is why the stack weight system is so expensive.

Using my own training as an example, I use the lat pulldown and seated row far more than I do isolation exercises. Plus, you can also do many isolation exercises – biceps, triceps, upright rows, single handwork, etc – all on the lat pulldown high and low pulley.

But when you do need to do dual cable work, having the 1:1 ratio will mean that you won’t need a lot of weight. Customers are shocked when they feel how heavy 10kg/side is when trying to do a chest fly or even press. This makes changing weight a lot quicker, and you will not need a lot of weight to get even a hardcore workout.

Where the advantage is over the stack weight option is micro loading. On the weight stack version, the weight goes up in 2.5kg increments. However, with the plate-loaded version, you can go up to 1.25kgs or even less. Now I know this won’t be a big deal for the big units out there, but with a 1:1 ratio, increasing an exercise like flys by 2.5kg is quite a jump for some.

Being able to bump the weight by 1.25kg is less of a psychological barrier. The added bonus is that it is also very handy if you have inexperienced trainers using the equipment.