Welcome to my updated Star Trac Max Rack review. If you're here, then you're probably interested in getting the Max Rack for either your home or commercial gym as well as finding out more information. So let's get right into it.
But first, there's one thing you should know. The Star Trac Max Rack isn't your average Smith machine home gym.
And you'll soon learn why.
UPDATE: the Max Rack has now been discontinued in the UK. But there are much better options available today. Skip to the conclusion to see what we recommend instead.
The Star Trac Max Rack is a popular 3D Smith machine that provides more realistic strength training than regular Smith machines by allowing both horizontal and vertical bar movement.
Yet at the same, it's much safer than using free weights because the bar can't tip off to one side and potentially cause injury (or at the very least, create a loud crash as the weights thump to the ground).
Naturally, this means that you can lift on the Max Rack without the interference of a spotter. You can re-rack the barbell, which has a 20kg/45lb starting weight, on any one of the 10 lockout points, which conveniently occupy both the front and back of the machine.
Depending on which version of the Max Rack you buy, you'll get between 8-10 storage posts for weight plates.
Similarly, not all versions of the Max Rack come with pull-up handles. And of the ones that do, some have multiple grip options whereas others just have a straight bar, permitting only basic pull up and chin up variations.
I'll explain the benefits of each feature in just a moment. But in case you're in a rush, here are the pros and cons that best sum up the Star Track Max Rack.
At a glance, the Max Rack almost looks like two machines in one—or some whacky contraption that training partners would use simultaneously to get a faster workout. However, the two separate racks that you see are actually just part of the Max Rack's dynamic 3D design.
Specifically, having two places to re-rack that bar enables you to perform dynamic exercises like bicep curls, lunges and even power cleans, which are typically not possible to perform (in comfort) on a regular Smith machine (like some Halo products).
The main benefit of the Max Rack, as alluded to above, is that you can move horizontally as well as vertically. This freedom allows for a more natural lifting motion and thus recruits extra muscle fibres since you can move dynamically rather than just straight up and down.
Unlike a regular Smith machine, there are lockout points at both the front and back of the machine (20 in total). As such, you can easily re-rack the weight regardless of what position you're in.
The Star Trac Max Rack 3D bar weight is 20kg/45lbs, giving it the same mass as an Olympic barbell. This is yet another way that Star Track makes Max Rack training feel like free weights. We have the unrestricted range of motion, and now we get a familiar barbell to lift with. So far, so good.
The useful thing about the bar weighing 20kg is that it removes the guesswork from calculating how much weight to put on the bar.
The benefit of this is that you can more easily compare your strength between free weight and Smith machine exercises. For example, if you can bench press 100kg with free weights, but can lift 110kg on the Max Rack, then you'll know that the extra lateral stability of the Smith machine is making you stronger.
Depending on which version of the Max Rack 3D Smith Machine you buy, you'll either have no pull-up handles, a flat pull up station or an assortment of grips.
The regular pull up station is self-explanatory (you can do overhand pull up and chin-ups), but the varied grip option is interesting because you get the additional neutral-grip option, which is a great lat-builder.
Regardless, you can also use the pull-up station to work your abs with hanging leg raises— one of the best movements for lower ab development.
One again, depending on which version of the Max Rack Star Trac machine you buy, you'll get either 8 or 10 storage pegs. Either way, this is plenty of space to store your weight pegs (and thus keep your home or commercial gym free from potential trip hazards).
Although I think there are better options on the market (more on this later), one thing I can't deny is the sturdiness of the Max Rack. It has a whopping 227kg weight capacity, making it an excellent choice for compound movements like squats, deadlifts and bench presses.
The bar also isn't your typical flimsy Smith machine barbell. In fact, at a starting resistance of 20kg, it's exactly the same weight as an Olympic barbell used by powerlifters and weightlifters.
As a result, the Max rack is popular among those who're following programs such as 5x5 and starting strength. In other words, they know exactly how much weight they're lifting, and the dynamic movement patterns transfer nicely over to free weights.
Read our Jones Smith Machine review if you want a Smith machine that resembles free weights even more closely.
The Star Track 3D Max Rack tackles safety from three distinct angles.
First, Star Track has equipped the Max Rack with full-length power rack-style safety catches to provide protection throughout all parts of the range of motion. So even if your muscles give out before you have chance to re-rack the barbell, you can still get yourself out of trouble by lowering (or dumping) the bar onto the safety catches .
Similarly, there are 20 lockout points (10 per side) so that you can re-rack on your own terms, regardless of which side of the machine you're at.
Finally, they include 20 exercise placards with diagrams and detailed instructions to encourage beginners to use the proper form. Not only do these placards go a long way to minimising injury risk, but they also enable novices to get a more effective workout by using the technique that's most appropriate for the particular muscle group(s) they're trying to work .
If you're from my neck of the woods, then the Indigo Counterbalanced Smith Machine is another good option because the steel is sourced from Britain.
Ever wondered what the Star Trac Max Rack bar weight is? Or what the best floor protection for it is? Well, I'll answer these two questions, and more, in this detailed FAQ .
The Star Trac Smith Machine bar weight 20kg, which is 45lbs.
Unfortunately, it appears that the Max Rack has been discontinued .
You can check the current price via this link and also see if it's in stock or not.
I recommend the Body Power Interlocking Tiles because they're lightweight and easy to install yet durable enough to cope with a machine as heavy as the Max Rack.
Go for the Body Power Tri-Grip Olympic Disc Kit if you want weights that are affordable but also extremely durable. I've been using these for years, and they're still like new.
I got the 140kg pack. But you can also get them in 11 other sizes ranging from 17.5kg to 165kg.
I recommend investing in the Body-Solid Flat/Incline/Decline Bench if you're looking for something that's commercial quality yet still affordable for home users. It has an even higher weight capacity than the Max Rack (272kg), comes with a lifetime warranty and has 8 adjustable positions to work your muscles from different angles.
The Star Track Max Rack ticks a lot of boxes but ultimately falls short of the mark in a few key areas.
But first, let's go over the good stuff. The max rack is easy to use, and if you can pick one up refurbished, then you might be able to bag yourself a good deal.
However, second-hand gym equipment almost always backfires in my experience. People are selling their machines for a reason, and it's not usually to give you a bargain—it's because they had a problem with it.
Overall, I think that the Impulse 3D Smith Machine is a much better option. The 3D version, for example, has a pull-up station with wide, close and neutral grip handles so that you can reap the rewards of bodyweight training.
It also has smoother resistance than the Max Rack, which is important for the mind-muscle connection.
The Gym Gear Elite Series 3D Smith Machine is another good option if you're ordering from Britain.
I hope that you found my Star Trac Max Rack review helpful. Overall, I think the Impulse 3D Smith machine is a much better option, especially considering that it comes with a lifetime frame warranty.