Review of Nautilus NT-CC1 Smith Machine with Cable Crossover Continued

NT CC1

I wrote the first part of my review soon after purchasing the NT-CC1. Because I hadn’t used it very much, I had more to say about assembling the machine than I did about actually using it. Now that I’ve had a few weeks to put it through its paces, I’d like to share with you some of my impressions and experiences.

I bought the machine for its versatility. On this count, I have yet to be disappointed. This is an incredibly versatile machine. For every major muscle group, I’ve been able to find several exercises convenient.

  • legs: squat, leg extension, hamstring curl, calf raise
  • shoulders: military press, standing arm raise (to side and to front), shrugs
  • chest: flat, incline, and decline bench presses
  • back: upright row, lower cable row, chin up
  • arms: single-handed and bar curl, tricep push down, overhead tricep extension
  • abs: sit-up on decline bench, crunch on flat bench

The machine is wonderfully versatile. Every time I use it, I’m discovering new exercises to do. The variety of exercises I can do with this machine seems to be limited only by my own creativity, which at times does appear to be somewhat limited. For example, I haven’t been able to think of a good exercise to work my lower back yet. And I seem to be running out of ideas for different ways to do bicep curls (after finding four or five variations).

As several readers have commented, I too have missed having a lat pulldown bar, though I’m not sure how I would use one if one was included. There isn’t anything on the machine that you can use to brace yourself from lifting your body. On a couple of occasions I tried a variation of a lat pulldown by sitting on the floor in between the two cables, with the pulleys mounted near the top, and a handle in each hand. With a low weight, I could achieve the motion I wanted, but once I increased the weight, I ended up just lifting myself off the ground.

I also wish the machine had come with a straight bar so I could vary the width of my grip when doing curls. This is no biggy, though. Nothing is stopping me from buying an after market bar.

A weight tree would be nice too. These are also available after market.

The operation of the machine is excellent. I had some problems early on with the bar getting a little sticky, especially in the upper range of motion, due to dust settling on the top of the bushing. I’ve found that a can of spray-on silicone lubricant is essential to keeping the smith machine moving smoothly. I wipe down the shafts with a rag before applying the lubricant, which seems to extend the amount of time between lubes. When I’m not using the smith machine, I store the bar on the top rung so any dust that does settle on the bushing doesn’t interfere with the usual range of motion.

Overall, I continue to be very impressed with the machine. I gives me the versatility that I want, even though it requires some regular light maintenance.

P.S. My thanks goes to Thomas Glass, whose tenacious investigation of the maximal loading of the machine turned up a limit of 500lbs for the smith machine and 250lbs for each of the cable assemblies. Good work, Tom!

P.P.S There is a discussion of the NT-CC1, though nobody refers to it by model number, at the John Stone Fitness Forum that might also be of interest.

Update (2006-01-29): John Kellas wrote me with an alternative to silicone lubricant:

What I’m trying for lubricant is the wax based lubricant sold in the bike shops for mountain bike cables and chains. As it is formulated for cables and not to attract dirt, it may be the best one to use.

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