The SCS Smith cage system is one of inspire Fitness's newest cable machines. It combines a functional trainer with a power rack and Smith machine into what many many lifters believe is the best Smith machine with cable crossover currently available in the UK and USA.
However, as you can probably guess, a training system with 7+ commercial-grade workout stations, exercise enhancing safety features and an ironclad lifetime warranty doesn't come cheap. The question is, is it truly worth your money?
Well, in my Inspire SCS Smith Cage System review, you'll soon find out all the juicy details.
The Inspire SCS Smith Machine Cage System replaces 7 common pieces of gym equipment to create an all-in-one workout hub that will serve even the most advanced weight lifters for years to come. We get a functional trainer, power rack, pull-up station, weight bench, leg extension, leg curl, preacher curl and, of course, a Smith machine.
Clearly, when you invest in the Inspire Fitness SCS Smith Cage System, you won't need to buy any other gym equipment besides weights.
Despite offering as many exercise possibilities as a fully-fledged fitness studio, the Inspire SCS full system is still relatively compact. It measures 155cm L x 191cm W x 206cm H and tips the scales at 499kg—a reliable indicator of the machine's unrivalled durability.
The frame itself benefits from a sturdy 11 gauge steel construction, which is actually the same metal that all [good] commercial gym equipment is made from. And yes, that includes the £5000 standalone machines that you find in health clubs.
I also like the fact that Inspire includes their highest quality bench with the SCS. Besides boasting a whopping 454kg weight capacity, the Inspire SCS-FID Bench offers 6 adjustable angles: incline (multiple), decline, flat and upright.
Yet despite such a sturdy construction, the bench is remarkably comfortable thanks to the contoured orthopaedic pads that fit to your body shape. Naturally, this level of comfort means that you can get a more effective workout because you'll no longer be distracted by uncomfortable metal digging into your flesh.
The striking Smith machine bar is finished in energising orange and benefits from a dual racking system so that you can also use the workout area with free weights.
It has a starting resistance of just 13.6kg (30lbs). Naturally, this enables beginners and advanced lifters can enjoy the best effects of the Inspire SCS Gym without having to lift any record-breaking weights on day one.
Similarly, with 15 steel lockout points, the Inspire SCS strength machine is the ultimate training partner no matter your ability level. Unlike a clumsy gym spotter, the SCS will take the strain at any point during your set with a simple turn of the wrist. As a result, it's an immensely popular choice for those seeking a reliable solution for their solo training sessions.
Like the Smith station, the Inspire SCS power rack enjoys 15 solid steel bar hooks that enable you to safely test your strength without a spotter.
Yet if you've pushed beyond failure and can't even drum up the strength to re-rack the barbell, then you don't have to shout the house down for help. Instead, you can take advantage of the full-length power rack safety catches and temporarily relieve your muscles of duty while you rest up for your next set.
The Inspire Fitness SCS Smith System comes with 6 pulleys; 2 wide, 2 narrow-low and 2 narrow-high.
While the upper and lower pulleys are fixed, and thus offer helpful stability for exercises like lat pulldowns and tricep pushdowns, the 2 wide pulleys are fully adjustable. Naturally, this freedom of movement enables you to build muscle faster because you can hit your body parts (particularly your chest) from different angles, which stimulates rapid hypertrophy.
Also, unlike with other cable machines, the pulleys on the Inspire Fitness SCS Smith Cage System function independently. This means that you can create a more aesthetic physique by doing exercise like lateral raises, curls and pushdowns without awkwardly having to connect them to two pulleys.
The weight stacks themselves check-in at 75kg (165lbs) apiece. With a 1:2 resistance ratio, however, you're only lifting half the weight that's specified on the stack. This is very much the industry standard, and it's more than enough weight for 99% of people. After all, who can do 40kg cable crossovers with proper form?
Plus, when you do compound movements like pulldowns, you'll be using both weight stacks, which means you'll get to test yourself with almost 80kg of frictionless resistance.
Yes, the resistance really is silky smooth on the SCS. There aren't any annoying jerks in the lifting motion that make your joints feel like they're getting torn apart. Instead, the range of motion is completely frictionless, which results in a more potent muscle pump and faster recovery times.
The one-of-a-kind height adjustable pull up station offers wide, neutral and close grip options so that you can build your back faster by hitting it from a variety of angles. It also comes equipped with ample knurling so that you can maintain a firm grip on the bar and train your lats and traps to their fullest potential.
Naturally, the adjustability of the pull-up station makes the SCS Smith Cage system a popular choice among lifters with low ceilings.
But if regular chin-ups are too challenging, then you can make use of the multi-function belt to perform real assisted pull-ups. This way, you don't have to miss out on the many physique and health benefits of bodyweight training.
The Inspire SCS FID Multi-Purpose Adjustable Bench measures 164cm L x 65cm W x 120cm H, weighs 32kg and supports up to 454kg of load.
Yeah, this bench is as sturdy as they come. I'm not surprised that it's fit for light commercial use. Heck, even most "full commercial" benches don't offer this level of construction.
But even with its borderline insane durability, the Inspire SCS Bench is still remarkably comfy to use because it benefits from real orthopaedic pads, which contour to fit the shape of your body. Obviously, this padding enables you to train much more intensely and build muscle faster because you can devote 100% of your attention to the workout.
As for adjustability, the bench offers 6 angles; flat, 30-degree incline, 45-degree incline, 65-degree incline, 85-degree incline (basically upright) and even a 20-degree decline option. Of course, having so many adjustable positions at your disposal is the perfect gateway to developing more proportional pecs because you can hit your chest from every conceivable angle.
Also, unlike the cheaper weight benches that plague the industry today, the SCS bench doesn't come with a flimsy pop-pin, which saves so much time when you're adjusting the backrest.
Similarly, this top-of-the-line weight bench comes with transport wheels and a convenient handle so that you don't have to fatigue your biceps or spine by carrying it around your home gym.
The leg attachments measures 51cm L x 53cm W x 81cm H, weighs 11.3kg and allows you to perform both leg extensions and hamstring curls.
However, unlike with standard leg developers, you can do gym-quality lying leg curls with the SCS bench and this genius attachment. As a result, you'll naturally develop a more aesthetic lower body because you don't have to rely on standing hamstring curls, which are notoriously difficult to progress on .
Additionally, while there's an option to add weights to the leg attachment, you can also hook it up to the cable stacks to enjoy a more consistent resistance curve. This constant tension training style creates an incredibly intense pump in your quads and hams. And with a good enough detail, you're bound to see an improvement in lower body muscularity.
But what really gives this particular leg developer the edge is the closed cell foam padding. Like a prestigious health club gym machine, the leg attachment comes complete 6 padded foam rollers to prevent your shins and ankles from acquiring any unsightly bruises.
The height-adjustable preacher pad measures 20cm L x 35.5cm W x 71cm H, weighs 9.5kg and quickly connects to the base of the bench. This attachment works exclusively with Inspire Fitness benches, and one thing you'll immediately notice is that it offers much more range of motion than your standard preacher pad .
Obviously, this increased ROM means that you'll naturally build bigger biceps in less time because each rep is literally twice as effective as usual.
As if faster bicep growth wasn't enough, you can also liven up your training by facing the bench towards the machine and performing cable preacher curls. This particular exercise feels fantastic because the contraction is so intense, and it's typically not possible in commercial gyms because the weight rooms are so damn busy!
Yet, if you're more old school and prefer EZ bar curls, you can take advantage of the steel bar rest so that you don't have to awkwardly lift the barbell over the pad after your last rep (which is customary with lower quality gym equipment).
If you're on the market for a home gym that's truly a one-time investment, then the Inspire Fitness SCS Smith Cage System is a great, reliable choice. Unlike your typical Smith machine or functional trainer, the SCS is built from commercial-grade 11 gauge steel so that it can withstand regular use for years and decades to come.
But Inspire Fitness didn't stop there. They equipped the SCS with an electrostatic powder coat finish so that it can fend off chips, dents, scratches and generally thrive in a busy light commercial environment.
Similarly, since the pulleys are made from fibreglass reinforced nylon (and not plastic), much less maintenance is required on your end because the components are incredibly damage-resistant.
Also, the precision steel ball system for the bearings ensures that the parts are not only durable but that they provide an excellent workout experience too. More specifically, you won't feel any friction when you lift on the SCS. Instead, you'll generate an intensifying muscle pump with each and every rep because the 2000lb-strong cables run so smoothly along the ball bearings.
Unsurprisingly, the Inspire Fitness SCS Smith Cage System comes with a lifetime home warranty (and a very generous light commercial guarantee).
As I mentioned earlier in my Inspire Fitness SCS Smith review, this heavy-duty training system measures 155cm L x 191cm W x 206cm/221cm H (depends on which height you set the pull-up bar to) and weighs 499kg.
With the bench, the length increases to 252cm.
Since Inspire Fitness has incorporated a power rack into the Smith machine station, they're able to offer us a home gym that's barely any bigger than your bog-standard functional trainer. As a result, it's an excellent choice if you're short on space or want a workout system that can fit nicely in the corner of a room.
But the real selling point (in terms of space, that is) is the height-adjustable pull-up station. Since it's a good few inches shorter than the average cable machine, you can enjoy the benefits of the SCS even if you have low ceilings.
Safety catches are a pretty standard feature on any half-decent Smith machine nowadays. However, few products come with the full-length power rack style safety catches that really give you the confidence to push yourself to the limit while training solo .
That's why I was so pumped up when I discovered that Inspire equipped their SCS Smith Cage System with just that.
The bar stoppers extend from one side of the cage all the way to the other. This level of safety is incredibly helpful if you usually train alone, like me. After all, even if you can't muster up the energy to re-rack the barbell onto one of the 15 steel hooks, it doesn't matter, because the bar catches have always got your back. If only the same could be said for the average gym spotter!
The Inspire SCS Smith Cage System manual begins with detailed safety instructions so that you don't run into any nasty injuries while pumping iron. You'll then see a series of detailed cable diagrams so that you know exactly how to install them when the time comes.
The bulk of the manual consists of a 27-step assembly process that, unlike other gym equipment instructions, contains helpful textual guidance in addition to crips, clear diagrams. Having concise text really does make the setup process a lot simpler because there's no guesswork when it comes to installing the parts.
I also like how the essential parts (such as how tightly to fasten the bolts) are bolded so that you can save time by avoiding any mistakes.
Overall, the setup is pretty straightforward as long as you exercise your patience and, preferably, lay out all the parts on the floor before you begin the job (it makes finding the pieces for each step much easier).
Here are the tools that you'll need:
Once you've set up your new Inspire Fitness SCS Smith Cage System, I recommend checking out the maintenance section of your manual (it's after the training tips). It contains a helpful tick box chart that specifies how often you need to check each part. For example, you only need to clean and lubricate the guide rods once every 3 months. On the flip side, they recommend inspecting the cables weekly because they're integral to the functioning of the unit.
The Inspire SCS Smith bar weight is 30lbs, which is equal to 13.6kg.
The main difference is that the SCS has a power rack for free weight exercises while the FT2 doesn't. This is an important distinction to consider if you enjoy barbell training because you can't add a power rack to the FT2 at a later date.
The SCS is also slightly longer and wider while the FT2 is a bit taller. Similarly, the SCS is around 80kg heavier.
Both the SCS and FT2 include physical exercise demos in a chart and booklet format respectively, but it's the FT2 that has more training accessories, boasting a rope, EZ bar, and sport handle in addition to the accessories that I mentioned at the start of this review.
Perhaps the most significant difference, though, is found in the Smith machine section. The Smith bar of the SCS is plate loaded, whereas that of the FT2 enjoys the resistance of the stack.
So overall, if you're more of the old school type and prefer free weight training, go with the Inspire Fitness SCS Smith Cage System.
But suppose you want a workout system that's completely cable-based. In that case, I recommend checking out my Inspire Fitness FT2 reviews page for the complete lowdown on their most popular functional trainer.
If you're planning to put your new SCS on a completely flat surface, then you might be able to get away without flooring protection.
However, the key phrase is get away with.
I recommend some affordable gym flooring like these BEAUTYOVO tiles. These are great quality and have loads of review so you can be confident you're not going to get ripped-off.
If you want to use the Smith machine and power rack portions of the SCS then yes, you'll need to invest in some weights. You don't need anything fancy, though. Despite the low price, I've found this Body Power Tri-Grip weight set to be absolutely top quality. The plate weights are accurate, and you can buy packages from 85kg to 235kg, so there really is something for every strength level and budget.
The Inspire Fitness SCS Smith Cage System comes with a multi-function belt (great for assisted pull-ups), 2 multi-ring d handles, 2 rubber d handles and an ankle strap.
The reality is, when you invest in the average Smith machine or functional trainer, you're going to have to upgrade it in a few years. How do I know?
Because I've gone through the frustration of churning through poor quality gym equipment to the tune of nearly £10000! And I'm not even that strong.
While the Inspire Fitness SCS Smith Cage System isn't the cheapest workout system on the market, you're guaranteed to save money in the long run by investing in a cable machine that won't just cope but thrive alongside your increasing strength levels.
Of course, as I mentioned throughout my Inspire SCS Smith Cage System review, this contraption is far from just a functional trainer. Since it comes complete with a Smith machine, it's an excellent training tool for busting through plateaus when you don't have a spotter. Plus, with a built-in power rack, you don't have to choose between free weight and machines—you can have both .
And the fact that Inspire Fitness gives us their top of the range bench as standard is a real bonus. Like the main unit, the SCS bench benefits from a 454kg user capacity and provides 6 adjustable angles, allowing you to achieve faster muscle growth by hitting your body parts from a wide variety of positions.
Overall, the Inspire Fitness SCS Smith Cage system is definitely worth the money—especially at the current low price during June 2020.