How To Lube A Gym Machine’s Guide Rods

A lot of gym equipment like functional trainers, Smith machines, and leg presses have guide rods. Lubricating these is super easy and makes a huge difference to how smooth the machine feels. Here’s how you do it.

How to lube a gym machine’s guide rods? First, clean the guide rods with a clean rag. Then check the rods for any damage. Next, spray a little dry silicone or PTFE lubricant on the rods and wipe down/spread with the rag. Let the lubricant dry off before using the machine.

For a more detailed explanation, keep reading. Or just buy the best lubricant here on Amazon

How To Lubricate Gym Machine Guide Rods

An image of a woman squatting in the smith machine with a red arrow pointing towards the guide rod.
The guide rod is the chromed upright tube the red arrow is pointing towards.

Lubricating the guide rods should be done on a pretty consistent basis. Machine maintenance is key to keeping everything working in good condition. Some parts of maintenance are more important than others. Lubricating the guide rods of machines that have them is one of the more important parts.

I’ve noticed that once a machine starts feeling a little rough, going through the steps below usually brings it back to its normal smooth self.

Here’s how to do it:

Guide rod lubrication steps

Follow these steps;

  • Take a clean rag or towel. Make sure it’s clean and lint-free.
  • Wipe down the rods to get off all the dust, dirt, hairs, etc.
  • Inspect the rods. Are they smooth or are there scratches in the chrome or chrome peeling off? If so, they’ll probably have to be replaced at some point but it’s uncommon if you take care of your machine.
  • Check if lubrication is necessary. Run your finger along the rod and see if it’s slippery or if your finger ‘sticks’. If it doesn’t feel slippery (enough), it needs some lubrication.
  • For guide rod lubrication, most manufacturers recommend a dry silicone or dry PTFE spray lubricant. Here is a good PTFE lubricant (Amazon link)
  • Spray a little lubricant on the rod. Keep the rag behind where you spray so it doesn’t go everywhere and you have to clean it off later. It’s better to use a little lubricant and spray more later than having too much on there.
  • Wipe down/spread out the lubricant before it dries. ‘Dry’ lubricant isn’t completely dry when you spray it but dries out quickly and then leaves a dry film.
  • Spray a little extra in the linear bearings. Not too much, you don’t want it to spill out everywhere. The linear bearings are the bushings in the top block of the weight stack.
  • Wait until the lubrication has dried before using the machine again.

There are a lot of steps but actually, you can easily do this in just a few minutes as long as you’ve got a clean rag and a bottle of spray lubricant.

How often you have to do this depends on how often you use the machine. In most cases, you’ll have to lubricate the guide rods every 1 to 3 months. The more often the machine is used, the more often you’ll have to re-apply lubricant to the rods.

What are weight stack guide rods?

Guide rods are used in gym machines with a weight stack. Look at the weight stack of a gym machine and you’ll quickly find them. The guide rods are two shiny metal rods that run from the bottom to the top of the machine. The rods go through all the plates of the weight stack.

That means when you pull up the weights by moving the machine, the weight plates keep going straight. Without these rods, the weights would start moving around when lifted which would probably mean that they wouldn’t come back in the correct place. Not to mention that swinging weight plates would feel very strange when using them.

Image pointing to guide rods on a gym machine

Machines that have a moving seat or some type of sled that you have to move usually have guide rods as well although they don’t go through a weight stack. You can treat those in the same way as described above. Leg press machines, smith machines, etc. all have guide rods that are very similar to the rods in a machine with weight stacks although the size is different.

How to diagnose your home gym machine problems

Dry guide rods aren’t the only thing that can prevent a machine from working properly. There can be a few other things you should check if lubricating the rods doesn’t work.

  • Check if the weight plates are all sitting straight and if they aren’t rubbing on the guide rods.
  • Check the cable casing. The cable is one of the most common things to go wrong. The casing starts wearing and fraying which causes the machine to not be smooth anymore. Click here to find out what to do.
  • Check the cable route. Is the cable running the correct route? Is it rubbing on anything? Sometimes the cable can come off the pulleys and get stuck between the pulley and casing. Carefully wiggle it out so you don’t damage the cable
  • Lubricate any other pivot points on the machine. Different machines work differently but almost anything with moving parts has to be lubricated to keep working properly. The user manual will tell you exactly where and how to lubricate your specific machine as well as which type of lubrication is best to use.
  • Suggested post: Should you lubricate a gym machine’s pulleys?

That should cover most of the things that can go wrong and need to be maintained on a gym machine.

Other Gym Machine Maintenance

Besides the moving parts of a machine, what are some other things you should do to keep your equipment in tip-top condition?

  • Regular cleaning. Clean everything (except the lubricated parts) with some water and soap. Especially the parts that get touched during use but, keeping everything dust and dirt-free isn’t a bad thing.
  • Wipe down the sweat after use. Sweat can be quite corrosive and damage the seat cover, paint, and certainly bare metal.
  • Check nuts and bolts and tighten them if necessary.

Most of these things are simple and can be done quickly. Just doing the things listed above will keep your machine in a much better condition, a pleasure to use, and last longer.

While regular care might take some time and effort, a better working machine that lasts longer will save money in the long run.

Image of a man cleaning gym equipment
Regular cleaning and wiping down sweat after running will help keep your treadmill in shape.


Do home gym machines need maintenance?

Yes, a home gym machine should be regularly cleaned and properly lubricated. This will keep a machine working smooth and last longer. Of course a better working machine will be more of a pleasure to use which is helpful when trying to stick to a workout routine.

Can you fix a gym machine cable?

If the casing of the cable is frayed or otherwise damaged, it shouldn’t be repaired but replaced. Any type of fix with tape or else won’t last. If the metal cable itself is fraying or damaged the machine shouldn’t be used until the cable is replaced.


Hey, I'm Matt. Welcome to After working out in many different gyms for almost 20 years and helping people build their own home gyms, i've learned a few things i'd like to share with you.

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