Can Smith Machine Help Progression?

I don’t know if I’d say it combines them. I’m not particularly strong at either bench or overhead relative to my strength on incline. Strength does tend to be specific. I think in terms of bang for your buck, it’s a nice middle ground for the muscle groups that look good in a t-shirt or sundress.

If you like the overhead - never stop! Seriously. This is a hobby; we have to do what we like.

You’re a strong person! I understand what you mean now on seated chest press.
I would offer you’re more likely to progress faster on your strength lifts by leaving a rep or two in the tank. I do think failure (or close to it) is very beneficial for hypertrophy, but only on “safe” lifts. Not only is the risk very high on a squat or bench if I truly fail, but it may take me two weeks to recover to a point where I want to do any real volume again. That trade off doesn’t work out over the long term if I do it more than once in awhile.

Folks will definitely come in and disagree with me on that last point, which is totally fair, but we usually find we’re disagreeing on the definition of failure. They’ll say they “failed” when their form got ugly; to me I’m saying I collapsed in the rack. In either case, I absolutely think you’re good to put the bar up when you know you did your last crisp barbell rep, then go fail on a machine press.

I’ll also edit myself here that @simo74 is definitely more adept at strength style training than I am, as are others, so I’ll rate his advice higher than my own.


I’d LOVE to hear more about your sundresses.


You’ll have to subscribe to my only fans


@DTX did you start a training log yet ? I know you were discussing it with @TrainForPain in your other thread but i didn’t see the new log yet. If you are OK to log your workouts and food I really think there is heaps of benefit you will get from it. Having people check in with you daily to see how well you are doing as well as offer direct advice to the program and diet you are running is really invaluable. You clearly love doing this stuff, have made some awesome progress so far and have your head screwed on the right way. I am genuinely excited to see how well you could do with just some small changes and guidance.

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link please :wink:

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This being the case: there’s no rules. Any lift you want to get strong at, just do it - whatever form that may take. I would go as far as to say you should look into DoggCrapp Training because the entire program is built around getting stronger at every lift, every week. When you stop progressing with that lift/exercise, you move to a new one and get stronger at that one… it suits your goals pretty well, i think.

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But what if I want to be strong and not gain 50 pounds?!? :weary::weary::weary:

Then don’t do it for 12 months? :rofl::rofl:

Joking, if people (including guys blasting AAS) could gain 50lbs of muscle in a year, there would be no other programs in existence… 50lbs is a LOT of muscle, so this is a bit of an exaggerated claim.

Title aside, this training method will get you strong and build muscle. Your goal with this training method is to increase weight or reps each training session, and when you can’t do that anymore - you change out the specific exercise you stopped progressing in. If that sounds like something you’re interested in, then i think this program will work well for you. Of course, if you’d isn’t your style - there are dozens more programs if you wanted to change things up.

Or if you just wanted to keep doing your thing and add in the smith machine - that works too.

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That’s a problem, in my opinion. There’s no reason why you need to be pushing your sets to failure, particularly if STRENGTH is your main goal (as opposed to physique). The best lifters I know rarely do this on their main lifts (male or female) and they continually make progress. I DO understand training to failure on supplemental lifts (think bicep curls, tricep extensions, lateral raises, etc) on burnout sets where you’re pushing a very high rep count. But you’re talking about training in the less than 5 rep range. If every session, you’re failing bench presses under 5 reps, your program needs rethinking.

If it’s important to you to keep failing on sets, or pushing near-failure, here’s another way you could approach it: You said it’s only the last couple sets that you fear failure on bench press, right? So maybe do all the sets you can that you don’t need a spotter for on a standard barbell, and then for your heavy sets you’re worried about, move over to the smith machine THEN. That way you get work done on both!


Appreciate your reply. Bench has always been hard for me to progress on alone. Maybe because I was new to lifting overall and has not developed enough peripheral strength with other muscle groups. Last I was under the bar several months ago I needed help with 115 x 2-3 reps. I wanted to try 135 but did not want to bother the same person again to spot me. After that I just switched to seated chest press and have made some progress there. Last seated press max was 180 x 6. I will try to get back under the bar and report back.

Still learning….

If you bench within a power rack with with the safety bars set to just the right height you don’t (at least from a purely safety pov need a spotter).

Have you posted what your training looks like on here somewhere? If you have, I’d love to take a look. My hunch is that you’re working too much in the very low rep ranges. Generally speaking, it will pay off to spend time working on higher rep ranges, specifically on the bench press, as well. Doing work in the 8-15 rep range, along with the lower reps, can help strength gains tremendously.

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I have not but will try to post it on another post soon.

I have not done bench in several months. On seated chest press this week:

8 x 120
8 x 140
6 x 160
6 x 180

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All these brilliant minds above have covered everything… almost. The only thing I’ll add is to clarify what’s going on with your exercise selection and the weights used.

Your body has a set amount of energy to give to something. On a seated bench press, there is nothing to do except press. The movement is determined by the machine so there is no balancing. If both arms are connected as one unit, then you don’t even have to worry about one arm doing more work than the other. All of your effort is going into the press.

Now let’s look at barbell bench. While doing this, you have to balance your body left and right as well as balancing the bar left, right, forward, and backwards. That’s a lot of extra work compared to the seated chest press. The end result is that you press less weight because you’re multi tasking. You’re “leaking” energy to stabilize things. This is also why you typically can’t dumbbell press what you barbell press. You have to balance each arm independently so you’re losing energy to all the extra work done to balance the weights.

Training on the seated chest press will make you stronger, but it won’t transfer to barbell bench right away. You will have to go back to training barbell bench for a bit before that new strength shows up.

The science says strength is developed by generating volume in the 80-87% of 1RM range. That should put you somewhere in the 3-6 reps per set range. If you do a rep that is a slow grind, then you’re done. Grinding reps aren’t necessary to build strength. That’s why many lifters stop a set when their form starts to break down or the speed of the bar decreases. I’m not saying that you can’t improve from grinding reps, but they have no place in your training if you don’t have a safe way to fail a rep.


Fantastic. Thanks for taking the time to review my post and the subsequent replies and taking the time to respond accordingly.

I didn’t see a reply to this, sorry if I missed it ?

I don’t remember if I specifically responded :joy:. In case I did not, no, I have not started a training log yet. Hope to soon.

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Everyone seems to have had great advice and commentary so far. Only thing I would add is if you have considered adding in dips to your training. These have always been helpful to me to build pressing strength. Furthermore, they are easy to scale by using a band (or most gyms have an assisting weight stack) if you can’t do many on your own yet, doing them without any assistance or added weight (regular dips), or even progressing to weighted or ring dips as you get better.

@Andrewgen_Receptors @flipcollar @Frank_C @simo74 @mechinos

All the advice here inspired me to get back under the bar and……

135 x 3.5
145 x 1

Was pleasantly surprised.

The last half rep at 135 my form was shot and I barely got the bar up . So based on what some of you have said I should have stopped at 3?

This was on a bench, not Smith and I did not ask for a spotter. :raised_hands::facepunch:


I’m not sure I understand… you wrote 3.5, but you’re saying you did not use a spotter. Which means you got all 4 reps by yourself, right? That’s 4, not 3.5. You don’t lose points for less than perfect form, lol.

But yes, I have said that I do not believe in going to absolute failure very often. And if you were in danger of missing that last rep, it was REALLY a bad idea. Never, ever hit an absolute failure rep on bench press without either a spotter, or spotter arms on the bench. It’s not worth the risk.