Whether you routinely work out alone or are just beginning to build your home gym, at some point you’ll inevitably be faced with a question nearly every solo lifter has encountered before: stick with a power rack for your strength training or opt for the safety of a Smith machine? Both pieces of equipment have their place in any gym and their respective benefits, but both also come with their fair share of negatives.
The traditional power rack is often considered the gold standard for strength training equipment, and for good reason. With a simple and straightforward design, it typically consists of a large metal cage with adjustable hooks that hold a standard 45-lb Olympic barbell. The barbell isn’t attached to the rack, allowing free movement and versatility of exercises. With a power rack you are able to easily perform all of your compound exercises as well as numerous other lifts to target any particular muscle group. This enables you to maximize your workout and quickly achieve your fitness goals.
However, power racks can be dangerous. Injuries are common, particularly for newbies who are still learning proper form, or dedicated gym rats looking to beat their personal records. The only built-in safety measure is the safety rack that can be placed near the bottom of your movement to catch the bar in the event that you fail during a lift. However, most users typically just rely on another person to spot them during the lift, a safety option unavailable to solo lifters. In any case, neither of these measures are foolproof and serious injury can still occur.
A Smith machine, on the other hand, excels in safety measures. With an attached barbell that can only move in a vertical motion between two steel rails, the Smith Machine has hooks in the rail’s main posts, allowing the user to lock the barbell by twisting the bar forward and hooking it into the frame. Thus, if you’re mid-rep and having difficulty, you simply twist your wrist to prevent the bar from falling on you. The user-friendly ease of the safety measures make the Smith machine an ideal option for the solo lifter - no need for a spotter to watch your back and no risk of ever having the weight fall down on you.
Yet, these same safety measures are limiting: the machine forces a restrictive, unnatural vertical motion. Exercises requiring a slight arc, like squats, bench presses, and shoulder presses, must be adapted to fit this vertical limitation, or you risk placing extra stress on your joints and lower back. With extended use, there is an increased risk of long-term injuries. The limited movement and lack of versatility can also mean poor muscle activation and minimal use of stabilizing muscles, making for a less than optimal workout.
All this being said, which is the best option for you as a solo lifter? Which piece of equipment will help you achieve your fitness goals for years to come without exposing you to unnecessary risk?
The truest answer is, there is no one right answer. Every person has different goals and different appetites for risk, making one machine or the other the better choice for you. However, if you’re still stuck between the two, there is a machine out there just for you.
Enter the Jones Machine
The perfect hybrid of a Smith machine and a power rack, the Bodycraft Jones machine incorporates key components from both. Similar to a Smith machine, the Jones machine has an attached barbell that can be racked at any point with a twist of the wrist. However, unlike a Smith, the barbell moves in a 3-dimensional motion (vertically and horizontally) allowing for more natural movement as if you were using a power rack. There’s no need for a spotter and there’s no risk of having the weight fall on you, whether you’re just learning proper form or you’re looking to push yourself to your limit.
In addition, the Jones machine has the option to become a traditional Smith machine with a simple pop-pin lock to lock the horizontal movement. With such flexibility, you can achieve a prime workout with the excellent muscle activation and maximum use of stabilizing muscles inherent to the Jones machine, while seamlessly transitioning to the Smith machine workouts you know and love.
As an added benefit, the Bodycraft Jones machine comes with a lifetime home warranty so you can rest easy knowing that your product is free from defects in materials or workmanship for as long as you enjoy it. When comparing your options as a solo lifter, neither the power rack nor the Smith machine offer the same flexibility, versatility, and safety as the Jones machine.