If you're signed up to our newsletter, then you'll know that I recently reviewed 12 different Marcy home gyms to find their best product.
You'll also know that less than half of their workout systems made the cut—this particular Smith machine home gym is one of the lucky few.
In my Marcy SM-4903 review, you'll discover why British buyers shouldn't overlook this popular American home gym. Particularly for those wanting an all-in-one solution.
America always seems to get the best of everything. Their weather is better; their food is tastier and most notably for us, they have a much bigger selection of home gym equipment to choose from. Thankfully, there's been a huge fitness surge in the UK over the past few years that's prompted considerable shake-ups.
While this means that health clubs (if you can call them that) are more crowded than ever before, it also means that we have a much better selection of home gyms to choose from. Many of which come straight from across the pond.
The Marcy Pro Smith Cage SM-4903 is one of those gyms. And like an American fridge-freezer, its crammed full of tantalising goodies. Except these goodies won't put a spare tire around your waist.
Marcy gives us a Smith machine, power rack, dual cable system, pull up station, dip handles and an adjustable bench. That's quite a mouthful. Suffice to say that you won't need any more gym equipment (besides weights) if you invest in this home gym.
In general, each station supports around 136kg (300lbs) of resistance. The exception to this is the bench, which holds up to 272kg (600lbs).
Overall, the Marcy SM-4903 Smith Machine is feature-packed. Except for maybe CrossFit movements, any exercise that you can do in a commercial gym you can perform on the SM 4903. And with the added safety catches, you can do so with peace of mind.
Whether you hate the Smith machine with a fiery passion or think that it's the bee's knees, you have to admit that it's a great training tool when used properly (especially when you're lifting alone like me).
The Marcy Pro Smith Machine takes care of both beginner and advanced lifters alike with heavy-duty safety catches and a rock-solid 136kg (300lb) capacity.
The safety catches are fully adjustable, and as such, enable us to fine-tune the lowest point to which the barbell can travel. Done right, this can get you out of trouble if you ever fail on a rep while training alone. Done wrong, and you'll limit your range of motion. Who'd have thought that there's an art to adjusting safety stoppers?
The barbell, which accepts both 1" and 2" discs, comes with plenty of knurling so that you can maintain a firm grip and generate more power while at the same time ensuring that the bar doesn't fly out of your hands when your palms get sweaty.
Most importantly, though, the Smith machine uses ultra glide bushings to eliminate friction from your bench presses, squats and whatever else you do on the Smith machine. As a result, you can enjoy a more productive workout since you naturally have a stronger mind-muscle connection when there are no awkward sticking points.
Many home gyms these days offer both a Smith machine and squat rack. In fact, the combination is so common that it's practically become a cliche!
However, few home gym companies are willing to provide us with a Smith machine and a power rack in the same unit. At least not without substantial money in return.
Why do I make such a big deal out of a power rack?
Let me explain. A power rack is much safer than a squat rack. And when you're training at home, safety is number one.
It works like this. The safety catches on a squat rack typically extend only marginally more than the regular bar holders. As such, you have to perform your exercises perilously close to the rack if you want to enjoy the supposed benefits of the catches.
This sub-par setup often causes you to thump the barbell into catches during bench presses and other such exercises. Which ironically, is a safety hazard in itself—and a big one at that.
So essentially, (most, but not all) squat rack safety catches are just glorified bar hooks that enable brands to make you think they care about your safety.
Power rack bar catches, on the other hand, typically have safety built into their design. Since the bar catches extend from the back of the frame to the front, a falling barbell's impact gets distributed over a much greater surface area. This keeps you safe and also gives you much more space to ditch the bar if you fail on a rep.
When you drop the barbell in a squat rack, however, you're half expecting the rack to shoot forwards under the strain of the impact since the catches are only attached to one side of the frame.
How some gym equipment designers think they can defy the laws of physics by putting some so-called "safety catches" on the front of a lightweight rack is beyond me.
As for the SM-4903, it comes with full-length safety stoppers that support up to 136kg (300lbs). There are also band pegs below so that you can add what's called variable resistance into your training and make certain parts of an exercise more challenging.
For example, it's common to practise among those who want to improve their bench press lockout to hook bands up to the bar as they lift. Then when they remove the bands, locking out the weight feels easy.
The Marcy Pro Smith Machine comes complete with a high and low pulley system that supports up to 68kg (150lbs) of plates on each side of the weight trolley. So that's 136kg (300lbs) in total.
Since each of the 4 pulleys also has built-in sealed ball bearings, the resistance feels remarkably smooth. As a recreational bodybuilder, it's much easier for me to achieve a strong mind-muscle connection when I'm not constantly harassed by friction.
The fluid motion also makes the resistance curve more consistent. Naturally, this leads to faster growth because your muscles receive tension during all parts of the movement.
The overhead pulley system consists of 2 swivel pulleys that provide constant tension on a variety of exercises such as lat pulldowns, triceps pushdowns and even standing leg extensions (yes, that exercise exists).
Directly below there are two lower pulleys for doing exercises like cable rows, lateral raises and bicep curls. And yes, ladies (and fellas?), you can use the low pulleys for glute kickbacks too—no flat backsides around here.
You can also see my review of the Marcy SM1000 Deluxe Smith machine if you don't need or want a cable system.
For years, I was that guy that would do 40 sets of back training per week. Yet I couldn't muster up the bodyweight strength do a single pull up—shame on me.
I can see why Marcy calls the SM 4903 a total-body training system. They have free weights, machines, cables and now callisthenics equipment. All in one machine.
This particular pull up bar has a variety of grip options. My favourite grip, especially for lat development, is the neutral grip. However, you can also go super wide (shoulders beware), regular wide (big lower lats) and close (great for building forearm strength).
Of course, you can also use an underhand grip if you want to work your back and biceps simultaneously.
Continuing with the callisthenics theme, the removable dip handles enable you to thicken your lower chest and add mass to your triceps by dipping with up to 136kg (including your bodyweight).
While the distance between the handles is fixed, their position on the rack isn't. You can customise the height by inserting the attachment into any hole on the outside of the frame.
This adjustability enables you to do weighted dips without the plates annoyingly hitting the ground.
But as with the pull-up station, you can also use the dip handles to build your abs by performing hanging leg and knee raises.
These are exercises that you simply can't do on their other home gyms, such as the Marcy SM4008 Smith machine.
Related review: Marcy SM1050 Smith machine
The adjustable weight bench has a remarkable variety of backrest positions. Besides adding variety to your workout routine and making your training sessions more fun, it also enables you to achieve better growth by hitting your muscles from different angles.
As you can see, the seat has 4 adjustable positions. While you might think that this is the norm, it's sadly a rarity to find an affordable home gym with an adjustable seat. But why does this even matter?
Well for one a non-adjustable seat is a cost-cutting measure on the part of the company. But more importantly, it's impossible to do incline presses comfortably when the angle between the seat and backrest is too large.
Seriously, you practically have to do a weighted ab crunch to keep the exercise from turning into a shoulder press!
As someone who enjoys doing supersets, I'm glad that Marcy has equipped the bench with a quick-release adjustment system. Other brands like to make us jump through hoops to change the angle—as if they don't want us to find out how horrible their incline settings are.
Constructed from damage-resistant 14 gauge steel, the Marcy Pro Smith Machine and bench seem to be as durable as they are versatile.
The frame, for example, has a powder coat finish. Besides making the unit look more aesthetically pleasing, this heat-cured layering is much more resistant to wear and tear than regular paint. And since a machine precisely applies the coating, there's much less waste, which is better for the environment.
On the workout side of things, Marcy has equipped the pulleys with sealed ball bearings, making the cables far less friction-prone than the cheaper alternatives that plague the industry.
The cables themselves have a 907kg (2000lb) tensile strength, which is the maximum amount of tension you could subject the cabling to without snapping it.
Marcy has also built high-density boxed upholstery straight into the bench to provide us with extra back support. As someone who likes their creature comforts (even while working out) they definitely get my stamp of approval here.
Some products, like the IM2000 don't even come with a bench!
There's no getting away from the fact that the Marcy Pro Smith Machine is a heavyweight workout system (much like the Marcy Diamond Elite MD9010G Smith Machine). Yeah, this isn't some cute little multi gym that you stick in front of your bedside table. It's a fully-fledged home gym that demands space—specifically, two feet around all sides.
Since I don't want to turn my Marcy Pro Smith Machine SM-4903 review into an essay, here are the key dimensions and weights:
In bodybuilding, if Arnold is numero uno, then safety is numero dos.
And while neither the SM-4903 nor the Marcy SM-4033 will turn you into Arnold without some crazy genetics, Marcy understands lifting safety more than most, which isn't surprising considering that the brand was created by none other than legendary weightlifter, Walter Marcyan.
Anyway. Both the Smith machine and power rack have adjustable safety catches that you can deploy (and definitely should deploy) to prevent the barbell from descending (or dropping violently) below a certain point.
Besides keeping you safe, these bar catches give you the extra confidence to push yourself since you know that the spotter catches always have your back. As a result, you're more likely to earn new PRs and train closer to failure, which is critical for building new muscle mass.
The Smith bar also has many steel lockout points spread evenly down the frame. This means that, should you fail on a rep, you can get yourself out of trouble by simply turning your wrist 30 degrees and re-racking the weight. It's like having your own spotter—but without the clumsiness.
Another useful safety feature (if you can call it that) is the weight plate pegs. Rather than taking up space on the side of the frame—and paving the way for falling weight discs—the plate holders are located at the back of the machine at ground level.
I don't think I need to tell you that a plate tipping over causes way less damage than a plate falling from 5 feet in the air!
Is it only in the UK where home gym companies like to turn the assembly process into a game of Where's Wally?
Seriously, it's like they send you on a treasure hunt for each little part.
Anyway, our American allies seem to be much more organised (at least based on the SM-4903 instructions).
The assembly itself is intuitive—there's no ambiguous text. You just get logical schematics with enough detail to be clear, but not so much detail that the pictures look more like spider diagrams.
All of the parts are labelled at the beginning of the manual, and you'll need two adjustable spanners/wrenches and a set of Allen keys/wrenches.
Overall, you're looking at around 6-7 hours to assemble the entire unit, which isn't bad considering that you're essentially putting together seven different machines.
When Marcy first called the SM 4903 a "total-body training system", I thought they were just another multi gym company trying to stand out. However, it turns out that I was too sceptical.
This home gym provides a ton of exercises. They say 50+, to play it safe. But with some imagination, there are hundreds of exercise possibilities. Here are some of my favourites:
As any personal trainer will tell you, to get the fastest and best results, you should tailor your workout program to your specific goals and ability. However, in case you need a dose of inspiration, I've written three of my go-to workout routines below.
1: Seated shoulder press — 4 x 8-10 reps
2: Upright row — 4 x 12-15 reps
3A: Lateral raise — 3 x 15-20 reps
3B: Front raise — 3 x 15-20 reps
4A: Barbell curl — 4 x 6-8 reps
4B: Close-grip bench press — 4 x 6-8 reps
5A: Hammer curl — 4 x 10-12 reps
5B: Overhead triceps extensions — 4 x 10-12 reps
1A: Medium-grip pull-ups — 4 x 6-8 reps
1B: Incline bench press — 4 x 6-8 reps
2A: Lat pulldown — 4 x 10-12 reps
2B: Flat bench press — 4 x 10-12 reps
3A: Barbell rows — 3 x 10-12 reps
3B: Dumbbell fly — 3 x 12-15 reps
1: Back squat — 4 x 6-8 reps
2: Romanian deadlift — 5 x 6-8 reps
3: Reverse lunge — 4 x 10-12 reps
4: Standing calf raise — 4 x 10-12 reps
The dimensions of the Marcy Pro SM-4903 are 218cm L x 185cm W x 218cm H or 86" L x 73" W x 86" H (inches).
Yes, the Marcy Pro Smith Machine is available with and without weights. The former includes the main unit and a 100kg weight set.
If you buy the weight set bundle, then yes. Otherwise no.
Yes, absolutely. Both pulleys work independently. Just know, however, that this will halve the resistance to a maximum of 68kg (150lbs) at a time.
The SM-4903 is especially good for incline press because both the backrest and seat of the bench are adjustable, meaning that you can place your upper body in the optimal pressing position.
Yes, users of 6'3 and taller have used the Marcy Pro Smith machine without any issues.
If you're on the market for a versatile home gym, but don't want to take out a second mortgage to pay for it, then the Marcy SM-4903 is an excellent option. Especially if you're into bodybuilding like I am.
For less than an 18-month membership at a mediocre health club, the SM-4903 replaces a Smith machine and virtually all other gym equipment. You'll feel like a kid in a candy shop if you love to lift.
Best of all, Marcy keeps us safe with full-length power rack safety catches and Smith machine safety stoppers. Now you can be sure that YOU earned that new PR—not some over-enthusiastic gym spotter .
If you can get this weight training system while it's in stock, then you'll soon enjoy more productive and invigorating home workouts. The SM-4903 a hidden gem of a gym that often gets overshadowed by Marcy's more popular products, but it's actually one of their top creations to date.