Here at Smith Machine UK, we're big proponents of buy once and train for life. Far too many home gyms these days have the sturdiness and predictability of a smartphone—they all look the same, and they all inevitably pack in after a few short years of use.
It's as if companies want you to keep giving them your hard-earned money...
But it doesn't have to be this way. By the end of this article, I'll reveal how I went from having two broken Smith machines and being over £4,000 out of pocket to investing in a rock-solid training system that revolutionised my home workouts. But if you just can't wait until then, skip to the conclusion to discover the equipment that levelled up my fitness journey.
One thing's for sure. Marcy knows what they're doing when it comes to home gyms. Their product line stikes what many believe to be the perfect balance between quality and affordability.
On the surface, the Marcy MD5191 is no exception. It combines more than 5 pieces of gym equipment into one workouts system, offering a Smith machine, squat rack, pec deck, pull up station, leg developer and cable pulleys.
You also get a weight bench with a variety of adjustments so that you can develop a more rounded physique by working your muscles from different angles.
Additionally, the bench isn't connected to the main unit, enabling you to use it for dumbbell training, adding yet more variety to your workout routine.
The machine itself seems pretty sturdy. It's made from adequate 14 gauge steel, which does the job but isn't as durable as the 11 gauge steel that some other brands quip their Smith machines with.
The 5191 Smith machine home gym features a 7-foot barbell that accepts both standard and Olympic weight plates. This versatility enables you to get a great deal on weight plates because you're not tied down to any particular diameter or brand.
The Smith machine also benefits from linear bearings. Unlike nylon brushings, linear bearings have a strong reputation for providing a smooth lifting motion thanks to their friction-reducing ability.
This enhanced motion often translates into a better training session because you can focus on the working muscle without being distracted by sticking points.
Having a squat rack and Smith machine in the same workout system is not only convenient, but it saves money, too.
This particular free weight rack, however, is a bit of a mixed bag.
It has all the aesthetics of a great squat rack—J-Hooks, safety stoppers—but lacks the weight capacity to make intermediate and advanced lifters feel at home.
If you're planning to lift more than 135kg—now or in the future—then you might want to look elsewhere.
That said, beginners can still milk some gains out of the Marcy Olympic Weight Smith Machine. I just wouldn't use it in my long term fitness strategy personally.
Like the squat rack, the pull-up station supports 135kg. However, since most people are much weaker on pull-ups than say, Romanian deadlifts, it's actually more sturdy than the free weight rack, relatively speaking.
You can use both overhand and underhand grips to build a better back by emphasising different areas of your lats—wide grip prioritises the lower lats. In contrast, medium and close grips emphasise the upper fibres.
The Marcy MD 5191 Smith Machine Home Gym pec deck has a 200% weight ratio. How this benefits you is that you can build bigger pecs because Marcy's cabling wizardry automatically doubles the resistance.
Contrary to the pec deck, the cable crossover system has a rather limiting 50% ratio, meaning that for every 10kg you place on the machine, you only get 5kg back in the form of resistance.
If you use both pulleys together, however, then you can hack the system and get 100% of the weight.
Nonetheless, the resistance ratio makes it difficult to go heavy on popular exercises like triceps pushdowns.
Better crank out those close grip bench presses instead!
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The low pulley has a 100% weight ratio and comes with a footplate for extra stability during cable rows. While stability is the obvious benefit, a less obvious benefit is that the footplate provides a better stretch in your lats because it increases your range of motion .
Just don't get carried away and turn your rows into a weird sort of cable rack pull.
The Marcy MD 5191 Smith Machine Home Gym leg developer attaches directly to the weight bench and supports up to 45kg of resistance. Unlike some other home gyms, you can actually do lying hamstring curls since the bench acts as stomach support.
The Marcy 5191 Home Gym bench has 5 backrest and 4 seat positions, enabling you to achieve better results by hitting your muscle from a variety of angles. It also has a 136kg maximum user weight capacity.
As mentioned, the Marcy MD 5191 Smith Machine Home Gym is constructed from 14 gauge steel. And while not at the pinnacle of durability, this steel strength is more than durable enough for most home workouts .
The frame also comes with a powder coat to increase its resistance to scratches, helping it to retain the pleasing colour scheme.
Key contact points, like the leg developer and pec arms, come with foam padding for extra comfort and limb protection. This cushioning is especially helpful for quad extensions, where your shins can often bruise if you go heavy.
In addition to the linear bearings, the chrome guide rods also help the Smith press to maintain a fluid lifting motion by providing a predetermined bar path. Just don't expect commercial quality for this price.
Marcy doesn't appear to specify the exact unit weight. Nonetheless, a gym this size has sturdiness built-in. The broad base naturally distributes the load evenly to keep the frame stable.
That said, just don't bank on pushing those safety catches past 135kg—there's a weight limit for a reason. And it's the same with their other products, such as the Marcy Eclipse RS7000 Deluxe Smith Machine.
Despite being a bit light in the weight capacity department, the MD5191 Olympic Smith is anything but light on safety features.
The Smith machine, for example, has adjustable safety catches so that you can limit injuries by preventing the bar from travelling past a certain point (which you can predetermine).
Likewise, the free weight rack's adjustable bar catches allow you to perform barbell exercises without a spotter breathing down your neck.
The Marcy MD 5191 Smith Machine Home Gym arrives in a large box measuring 130cm L x 48cm W x 17cm H.
The assembly itself is relatively straightforward. While Marcy won't win any awards for presentation, the instructions look fairly understandable. Just don't bank on precise instructions, because all you get is a series of diagrams.
Still, the parts are labelled in the manual, and there's a ruler on each page so that you can quickly differentiate between the similar-looking bolts and washes.
Give it around 5-6 hours and preferably get someone else to chip in for the heavy parts. You can also take a look at our Marcy MP3100 Smith Machine reviews page if you want a gym that's a little easier to setup.
Overall, the MD5191 is a decent home gym for the price. Marcy does an excellent job of providing us with enough training variety to the point where a gym membership actually seems like a bad investment .
And for the beginner crowd, it gets our stamp of approval.
However, the Marcy MD5191 is quite restrictive for intermediate and advanced lifters. The leg developer has a minuscule 45kg capacity, making squats the only exercise you can really load up on. And even then, you're limited to 135kg.
Plus, for the mid-range price tag, I definitely think there are better options. The Series 7 Smith Machine package, for example, has double the weight capacity and also supports far higher resistance (95kg) on the cables (which are selectorized), enabling you to develop significantly more muscle mass.
In addition to providing a lifetime warranty, a squat rack, and a Smith machine, Body Solid also includes a pec deck, leg developer, preacher pad, pulldown station, low pulley and a 450kg-capacity bench, which has 6 adjustable angles.
Best of all? These workout stations are made from sturdy 11 gauge steel and come complete with supportive DuraFirm padding, making the Body Solid Series 7 considerably comfier than the MD 5191 (and much more durable).
Body Solid actually uses the same construction that commercial fitness companies do. However, since they're not selling to wealthy gym chains, who have more money than sense, they can give us a fully-fledged home gym for the same price as a single commercial gym machine. And I'm glad that I took advantage of the offer because I'm making the best gains of my life with the Series 7.