I've been lifting for going on ten years now and as effective as free weights are for building muscle, there's something I just love about machines. The fact that I can load up a smith machine bar and train close to failure without a spotter makes me wonder why I didn't start working out at home sooner.
Plus, I love being able to do supersets without having to keep a constant eye on my other machine to prevent someone else from "stealing" it.
The thing is, it's tough to find a home gym that does it all. Some machines are great for free-weight training while others are only good for their cables. And as someone interested in building muscle, I understand the importance of training my body with different equipment and from a variety of angles.
So when I saw the SM 4008 for sale, I was naturally curious if this Smith machine with cables was good for me—someone who wants to build muscle without buying ten different machines.
Given how popular the SM-4008 seems to be, I figured that others are probably curious about the pros and cons, too. So I decided to create an in-depth Marcy Combo Smith Machine review to share my thoughts.
The Marcy SM 4008 Smith Machine is an all-in-one workout system that combines a smith machine, squat rack, cable pulleys and leg developer into one large home gym. It's designed for folk, like me, who want to mimic all their favourite exercises but who don't have space (let alone the budget) for ten different weight machines.
As mentioned, the Marcy Combo Smith Machine 4008 includes all the key features for you to get in shape from the comforts of your own home. However, you'll need to buy your own weight plates and barbell to get the most from this home gym.
Although this increases the cost, an underappreciated benefit of buying your weight discs separately is the fact that you can select from a variety of different sizes. This freedom enables you to completely customise your resistance level and also means that you aren't at the mercy of any preset weight increments, which are often too large for many isolation exercises.
I read a ton Marcy Combo Smith Machine reviews before writing my own, and it's clear that the SM-4008 is a very polarising home gym. The most contentious point, though, is definitely the construction. Some people think they got a bargain and have no complaints against the durability, while others disliked the plastic components and feel like they wasted their money.
So who's right?
Well, when it comes to the SM4008, things are not black and white.
And you'll soon learn why.
With 7 unique workout stations, the Marcy Combo Smith Machine SM-4008 is one of the most versatile home gyms on the market. And while not commercial quality, it strikes arguably the perfect balance between functionality and ease of use.
The smith machine, for example, enables you to work out without needing to stabilise the load and, more importantly, without worrying about dropping the bar on yourself. This built-in safety is particularly helpful for beginners who're still learning the proper form. But it's also useful for those who just want to get a good workout and don't care about being a powerlifter.
On the other hand, the free-weight rack enables you to load up a barbell and perform heavy compound lifts to recruit the maximum amount of muscle fibres possible. Although insanely effective for gaining size and strength, this training-style carries a higher injury risk than machine-based lifting.
However, the adjustable safety catches help to decrease the likelihood of injury.
Then, to complete your workout routine, you can use the pulley system, pec deck and leg developer to perform various isolation exercises. Unlike compound movements, isolation exercises are incredibly useful for improving your weak muscle groups because you can completely remove your dominant body parts (which often take over) from the equation.
Rated to handle 300lbs and complete with adjustable safety stoppers, the smith machine on the Marcy Combo Home Gym is built to withstand heavy lifting. But unlike free weights, you don't have to stabilise the load—the machine does it for you. Now, this doesn't necessarily make your workouts easier. After all, you still have to lift the weight.
However, you also don't have to worry about dropping a heavy barbell on yourself when you don't have the strength to re-rack the weight.
Further, because the smith machine on the Marcy Home Gym SM4008 removes your stabilisers from the equation, you can focus purely on the working muscle, which might actually lead to faster gains than free-weights.
Now for the not so good stuff...
Out of all the Marcy SM4008 Smith Cage reviews that I read, the number one complaint (after the stickiness of the pulleys) was the not-so-fluid motion of the smith machine. It turns out that, unlike their higher tier cage, the Marcy 4008 uses plastic bushings rather than linear bearings for its smith machine.
What this means in practice is that if you don't press or squat the bar evenly, you'll experience a sticking motion as you lift the weight. While this theoretically encourages proper form, most people are naturally stronger on one side of their body than the other, which makes it ridiculously hard to lift the bar with equal output from both sides.
Overall, the smith station does the job, but just don't expect commercial quality. And make sure you have that WD-40 handy!
The cable crossover, which also functions as a pulldown station, enables you to lift up to 200lbs. However, the catch is that the high pulleys each have a 50% weight ratio. How this affects you is that unless you use both sides together, you're only getting 100lbs of resistance, which might not be challenging enough for compound movements.
That said, you can always connect both sides to a lat pulldown bar if you need more weight. Plus, 100lbs is a decent amount of resistance for isolation exercises, especially when you're doing them for high reps.
Like the high pulley, the lower cables provide a variety of compound and isolation exercises, which helps to build a balanced physique. This station also benefits from a 100% weight ratio, which means that if you put 200lbs on the cables, you can be sure that you're getting 200lbs of resistance.
The standout feature, though, is definitely the low row station. Considering how many people (especially gym bros) are chest-dominant these days, I'm glad that Marcy included a dedicated foot platform for rows.
Aside from helping to even out any muscle imbalances, the foot platform gives you greater strength during back training because you can push in the opposite direction while you pull the weight towards your body.
The free-weight rack on this Marcy Deluxe Smith Machine has a 300lb weight capacity and like the Smith station, comes with adjustable safety catches. The problem is that these safety catches are plastic and don't stick out that much further than the regular barbell holders.
If you're not a particularly heavy lifter, this isn't an issue. However, if you plan on performing max lifts (where's there's a chance that you'll fail on a rep), I think you're better off with a home gym that uses steel safety stoppers.
Read our Marcy SM-4903 review if you're interested in a home gym that has full-length power rack safety catches.
Best done at the end of your workout for high reps, pec deck flys are a great exercise to finish off your chest after heavy bench pressing. To use the station, you'll need to set your bench to flat and then wheel it to the back of the cage. From there, you'll want to place your upper half against the backrest and set the pec fly arms all the way back so that you can get a full range of motion.
As a big believer in bodyweight training, the fact that the Marcy Deluxe Smith Trainer comes with a built-in pull-up bar is a huge plus. It supports users up to 300lbs, which also means that you can build up your back with weighted pull-ups. And while there's no neutral grip option, you can still hit your lats from different angles by performing wide-grip, close-grip and underhand pull-ups.
It wouldn't be a proper Marcy SM 4008 review unless I talked about the adjustable bench.
Unlike with similar home gyms, the bench isn't bolted down to the main unit. This free-moving design makes the cage area feel less claustrophobic and also enables you to use the bench for a variety of dumbbell exercises.
Additionally, it comes with a multitude of adjustable angles, including 2 decline settings, 3 incline settings and a 90-degree angle for shoulder presses. Having this level of adjustment enables you to train your muscles in different planes of motion, which helps you to avoid overuse injuries and also build a more proportional physique.
Another beneficial feature (which I hope you won't skip) is the leg developer. Like with standard home gyms, you can do quad extensions and standing leg curls. However, because the bench is completely adjustable, you can also do lying hamstring curls, which are far less cumbersome than the standing version in my experience.
With a v-bar, shiver bar, rope, chain link, ankle strap and two single handles, the Marcy Smith Machine - SM-4008 has all the attachments necessary for a full-body workout at home.
You also get an exercise chart that shows you the proper form for 32 exercises, which is useful if you're a beginner or someone who's not worked out in a while.
Despite using a lot of plastic components, the frame on the SM-4008 Combo Smith Machine is still pretty sturdy. Unlike lower quality home gyms, it doesn't wobble during use. Aside from making your workouts safer, this durability means that you aren't put off by any annoying swaying motion during heavy lifts.
As for the cables, they're made from aircraft-grade steel and boast a tensile strength of 2000lbs. In case you're wondering, tensile strength is essentially how much tension something can withstand until it breaks. And considering that no human has ever lifted 2000lbs, these cables will last for a long time with proper care.
That said, in all of the Marcy Combo Smith Home Gym Machine Reviews that I read, the number one complaint was still the cables. And specifically, the stickiness of them. Despite proper assembly, some users just couldn't get rid of the cable friction.
However, I have a hunch that they didn't route the cables properly (especially considering that routing them is the hardest part of the assembly).
Still, even a high-quality pulley system needs regular lubrication to stay smooth. And for the price, I wasn't expecting commercial quality either.
So, I think we can agree that the cables are a mixed bag.
But one thing that's disappointing for sure is the fact that the safety catches and weight peg posts are both made of plastic.
Aside from giving the unit a cheaper feeling, it does make me question whether the plastic components can stand up to regular use. If you're not lifting super heavy, then I'd say yes. But if you're more of the powerlifter type, then I'd look elsewhere.
The Marcy Smith Machine Bench Combo measures 65" L x 79.25" W x 84.5" H and weighs around 300lbs in total—so it's clearly not the smallest of gyms. However, considering the versatility offered by the workout stations, I think the footprint is reasonable, especially because you won't have to buy any other machines.
Also, unlike your typical squat rack, you don't need to bolt this Smith machine combo down to the ground. This user-friendly design makes it easier to reposition the unit at a later date and also enables you to keep your floor intact.
Overall, you'll need a decent amount of ceiling height, but nothing out of the ordinary. Just make sure to leave around two feet around the sides and front of the machine so that you can load weight discs onto the pulleys and use the bench.
Every Marcy SM 4008 Combo Smith Machine review I read says the same thing—the assembly is time-consuming.
And they're certainly not wrong.
If there's one thing that I've learnt from assembling Marcy products, it's this: while the instructions are often basic, the actual assembly is usually pretty straightforward.
So with that said, what can you expect with the SM-4008?
The first thing you can expect is your delivery; box 1 weighs 157lbs and measures 81.5" x 17" x 7", box 2 weighs 86lbs and measures 44" x 19" x 8" while box 3 weighs just 46lbs and checks in at 50" x 17.5" x 7".
I know what you're thinking:
Ok, Captain Obvious, I could've guessed that the boxes would be large, how about the actual assembly?
For the setup itself, you'll need an Allen wrench (included) and two adjustable wrenches (spanners). Then you'll need to locate your assembly manual and your owner's manual. Why both?
Well, contrary to what their names would suggest, the owner's manual is actually the most useful booklet for putting together this gym. Unlike the assembly manual (which contains only diagrams) the owner's manual has both schematics and written instructions, which is particularly helpful when it comes to constructing the pulleys.
Overall, you'll have no trouble putting the SM-4008 Combo Smith Machine together. Just make sure to study the diagrams carefully and don't tighten any bolts until you're asked to do so.
Depending on your mechanical proficiencies, you're looking at anywhere from 6-10 hours. Obviously, if you're going it alone, the assembly process will be longer than if you had a second set of hands helping you .
Although you have to buy your own weights for the SM-4008, you can use both 1" and 2" discs, which helps you shop for a better deal seen as you're not restricted to a particular diameter.
Here's the resistance breakdown by station:
The Marcy SM-4008 Combo Smith comes with an adjustable bench that has thick foam padding and multiple height adjustments. This versatility enables people with different builds to use the home gym comfortably.
The only minor fault is that the actual seat part of the bench isn't adjustable.
However, like the backrest and seat, the leg developer also benefits from foam roller padding, which helps to reduce the stress on your shins during quad extensions. In my opinion, this is much more important than having an adjustable seat, given that the backrest is already fully adjustable.
While I was researching the material for my Marcy SM 4008 review, I saw a lot of people asking how it was different from the Diamond Elite. So for those wondering, here's a full Marcy Combo Smith vs Diamond Elite comparison.
You can also check out Marcy Smith machine reviews page for an in-depth look at the MD 9010G specifically.
In terms of workout stations, the main difference is that the Diamond Elite has a preacher curl pad while the SM-4008 doesn't. However, unlike the Diamond Elite, the SM-4008 comes with a pull-up bar, so things are pretty even.
Overall, though, I'm going to give the victory to the Diamond Elite since you can easily pick up an inexpensive doorway pull-up bar (which are pretty good these days). On the other hand, preacher curl stations are pretty expensive if you go for something high-quality.
The main difference here is the design of the smith machine. Whereas the 9010G uses linear bearings, the SM-4008 opts for cheaper plastic sleeves. What this means in practice is that you'll get a much smoother lifting motion with the 9010G since the bar can glide easier.
Since many people will buy a home gym based on the quality of the smith machine alone, I'm giving this one to the Diamond Elite. Plus, the Elite also uses steel components in the places where it matters most—the safety catches and the plate holders—so it's a pretty easy win.
Despite using lower quality parts, the SM-4008 is more comfortable than the 9010G because it has a regular flat bench instead of a curved bench.
However, a small curve on an otherwise comfortable bench isn't enough for the Combo Smith to come out on top overall.
If you can afford the extra couple of hundred pounds/dollars, I recommend investing in the Diamond Elite. In the long run, it'll probably work out cheaper anyway since the steel parts will last much longer than the Combo Smith's plastic components.
The Marcy Combo Smith Machine dimensions are 65" L x 79.25" W x 84.5" H for the cage and 68.25" L x 26" W x 45.5" H for the bench. All measurements are in inches.
The SM-4008 bar weighs approximately 15lbs.
The Marcy Combo Smith machine doesn't come with any weights. However, since it accepts both standard 1" plates and 2" Olympic discs, you can get a pretty sweet deal because you don't have to be picky with which diameter you buy.
The manufacturer recommends spraying the pulleys, cables and guide rod with a light oil like WD-40.
I hope that my review answered all of your questions. But if you'd still like to read more reviews, you can do so here.
1A: Bench press — 3 x 6-8 reps
1B: Pull-ups — 3 x 6-8 reps
2A: Incline press — 2 x 8-12 reps
2B: Cable row — 2 x 10-12 reps
3A: Bicep curls — 2 x 12-15 reps
3B: Triceps extensions — 2 x 12-20 reps
4: Squats — 3 x 6-8 reps
5A: Lying hamstring curls — 3 x 8-12 reps
5B: Leg extensions — 2 x 10-15 reps
6: Calf raises — 3 x 12-20 reps
There are two options when it comes to flooring. The first and cheapest option is to buy interlocking foam mats. Aside from being affordable, this type of flooring enables you to customise the number of mats that you buy since each foam pad is roughly 2 x 2 feet (that's 24").
In the SM-4008's case, you'll need around 8x8 or 8x10 worth of protective flooring to cover both the main unit and the bench.
The second and more expensive option is to buy dedicated equipment mats. These mats, while exceptionally high quality, are very costly considering that you'll need two for the SM 4008.
I think that most fitness professionals would agree that any home gym is better than no home gym—especially if it's the difference between sticking to an exercise regime and sitting on the couch eating Doritos . However, if you're going to invest in a home gym, then you may as well get the best that you can afford.
Overall, the Marcy SM-4008 Combo Smith is a solid product. With a smith machine, squat rack, cable crossover and a leg developer, it has enough workout stations to keep even the most frequent program hopper occupied.
However, as any Marcy Combo Smith Machine review will tell you, the SM-4008 is not the best option available.
For only a few hundred extra quid, you can own the Diamond Elite or the Marcy SM-4033. Aside from having a preacher pad, extra storage and an all-steel construction, the Diamond Elite also benefits from a Smith machine that has linear bearings.
Unlike with the SM 4008 (where you have to pay meticulous attention to how you press the bar), the linear bearings enable you to focus on lifting rather than on avoiding the dreaded sticking points.
Another great option, and one which I rate as the best on the market, is the Body Solid Series 7. It has almost twice the weight capacity (and twice the sturdiness) of the Combo Smith and even includes a selectorized weight stack is you buy a package deal.
You can see our Body Solid Series 7 Smith Machine reviews section for all the pros and cons but suffice to say after over 50 Smith machine tests, I'm yet to find anything sturdier or more versatile
It comes with a lifetime warranty and a 30-day returns window (in Britain, at least), so there's no risk in giving it a try.