I LOVE incorporating the Smith Machine int0 my workouts!
The Smith Machine is basically a barbell on a track housed inside a squat rack and has a predictable trajectory that goes straight up and down, which makes it great for training solo, working around certain injuries.
The barbell has a hook on either side, and a simple twist of the wrist spins the bar, locking it onto any of several notches along the outside of the track. This means you can set the bar at any starting height, allowing you to transition easily from standing and lying to sitting and more.
Smith machines also have safety stops that can be set to any height along the machine, preventing the barbell from descending farther, thereby protecting you from injury and acting as a virtual training partner.
Despite all of the AWESOMENESS the Smith Machine has to offer, there are plenty of internet haters who bash this versatile muscle building apparatus for its lack of functionality and then something about stabilizer muscles, but I tend to tune anyone out whose argument solely rests on functional fitness as the holy grail.
Here is some HORRIBLE real-world advice I have witnessed when a new lifter asked for input on the Smith Machine and its use in building muscle:
“Nothing on the Smith Machine useful unless that is all you have”
“Why Would you want to?”
“No, use a broomstick instead” (this one is probably the most ridiculous but it happened)
“The Smith Machine is bad for you”
Comments like this make me want to SCREAM…but I will save that rant for a different day and counter with the following
What about the person who has bad knees or back and uses the smith machine to stay more upright and take pressure off these areas so they can squat pain-free?
What about the person who does not feel comfortable with the barbell on their back yet but is able to build the confidence in the Smith Machine and then transition to the squat rack?
What about the person who wants to focus on glutes and hamstrings when they squat and take the emphasis off the quads or vice versa?
Then the Smith machine is the perfect mechanism for all of these. Not to mention all the other benefits the Smith Machine offers for hypertrophy and exercise variation.
I say to the naysayers, take a few moments to step outside of your functional fitness tunnel vision and realize that building muscle is not just about function and includes an aesthetic appeal as well, tailored to the preference of each individual.
Check out these 12 Smith Machine exercises that you can easily incorporate into your workout plan.
1. Smith Machine Sumo Squat
2. Stiff Legged Deadlift
3. Bench Press
4. Bent Over Row
5. Box Squats
6. Leg Press
7. Hack Squat
8. Shoulder Press
9. Split Lunge
10. Single Leg Leg Press
11. Reverse Lunge
12. Kneeling Squat
Here is a sample Upper Body and Lower Body workout that effectively incorporates the Smith Machine
Lower Body (Hamstring/Glute Focus)
3×12 Smith Machine Siff Legged Deadlifts
3×15 Lying Leg Curl
3×10 Smith Machine Split Lunge
4×20 DB Hip Thrust
3×20 Banded Hip Abduction
Upper Body (Back/Shoulder Focus)
3×15 Wide Grip Lat Pulldown
3×12 Smith Machine Bent Over Row
3×8 Smith Machine Shoulder Press
3×20 Cable Rope Face Pulls
3×20 DB Lateral Raise 3×15
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