So at my YMCA there is only a smith machine. This is what I've been using to squat for the past 3-4 months I've been doing of 5/3/1. I put my feet right under me instead of out in front to mimic a real squat as much as possible and go full depth.
At my school there is actual squat racks. I would like to use these if the gym at my school is open on squat days, but I am not sure how I will do on balance.
Does anyone have experience making the switch from smith to normal rack? Is it hard to balance? Will I have to take 50 lbs off my squat if I use the normal rack instead of the smith?
you may have to take a lot of weight off as the smith can teach bad form in the squat. see if you can get a box and box squat when you have the power/squat rack to use. and drop the smith squats and switch to bulgarian squats, stepups, or some other single legged squats.
Just simply don't expect to be awesome at squats. It is a very challenging exercise to master, and even then everyone has some sort of weak point on their timeline of training. My suggestion to you if you don't have a coach is to just read as much as you can on the squat, and watch as many videos as you can.
Check out "Squat Rx" on YouTube, those are excellent videos on the squat. If you meet someone in the gym that you admire, ask for their help. That is one of the best things that happened to me was meeting some powerlifters and competitive bodybuilders along the way, take what you feel is important from everyone and you'll eventually get there. Start slow and reinforce good technique, it took literally years of training for me to get good at squatting. Be patient with it. Good luck.
Thanks, I'll keep in mind it'll be a while before I attain 'squat mastery'. But what I'm afraid of is coming from being able to do ~1.5xBW on the smith machine to full depth, and then having my back and knees explode when I do an actual squat with that load.
I think I might try working up to something I know I can handle easily for one rep, like 185 or 205, on the squat rack on an off day. I read about the whole balance/strength thing so I know I won't be able to do as well with power rack as on smith. But I was wondering how much the difference would be.
I've never squatted in a smith so I can't help you with what the difference in weight would be. However, I would treat squatting in a rack as a different exercise than squatting in a smith machine. Start with the bar to get your groove and then jump to 135 and go from there.
I would equate it to doing a chest press machine and then benching. The two don't really equate. Years ago I moved from chest press to benching and couldn't move nearly the same numbers.
Don't worry about your numbers being lower. Make the move asap and start learning.
Can you say "night and day?" After Smith machine squatting and leg pressing for a couple of years in a gym that did not have a power rack and hefting a fair amount of weight using those, attempting a "real" squat in a power rack was a humbling experience for me at least.
It's not so much back and knees not being able to take the load (as long as your form is correct), but being able to stabilize the weight to go full ROM. That being said, how important this is really depends on your goals. You can progress quite a bit in terms of strength and size using just a Smith machine, just don't expect to be able to get good at squats on one.
Thank you all very much for the input. The Y across town has an actual squat rack so after this week I'll do the deload squats with the normal rack, test my 1RM for all lifts the week after, and use that gym for squats from here out.
I had similar results. The gym I was using did not have a squat rack or anything, so I was doing leg press on a machine was working the whole stack and really needed more weight. Now I have a home gym and started working squats, I was sorely dissapointed in the amount of weight I could squat. Started with similar weights and have since moved up quite a bit but had to take a step back to develop the core muscles and technique.