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How Bad Is the Smith Machine ?

I am sure this question has been answered before, but how bad is it to use the Smith Machine. I am asking because I train alone and I am trying to increase my bench numbers (225 lbs to 255 lbs). I have been using it for safety reasons. Just curious.

If you train alone and don’t have a power rack then a smith is fine. Don’t let people tell you that your muscles will shrivel because of it. However 225 free weight is generally not the same as 225 on the smith so keep that in mind.

Lots of people hate the smith machine. My own opinion is that it is not bad, perhaps even good for building muscle size. However it is not very good for developing strength that you will test with free weights.

So if you work on increasing your bench on the smith machine up to 255, don’t expect to go in a gym and bench 255 with free weights. In fact, I would say that if you use the smith machine exclusively for more than a month or two your free weight bench press may well decrease so you might be doing 255 on the smith and 205 in free weights.

To add to the above post, most smith machine bars weigh 15-25 lbs.

You’ll go blind.

Do what you’ve got to do; like Scott said, use a power rack if you can. My wife is a former physical therapist and agrees with Poliquin that it’s one way to cause impingements due to restricted mobility.

[quote]sdspeedracer wrote:
You’ll go blind.[/quote]

Not only that. They kidnap children. The ones that they don’t eat they hand over to bin-laden.

It gave me genital herpes.

… or at least, that’s where I told the girlfriend I got them from.

The smith machine changed its name in the early eighties. Prior to the name change it was known as Lucifer.

The Smith Machine is the devil.

I have never hurt myself using free weights, yet I sprained my lower back squatting in a Smith machine a few years ago. Couldn’t move for a week.

Smiths suck, but they’re a hell of a lot better than nothing. Use it if you have to, but try to get access to a power rack. Just as safe (probably safeER, IMO) as a Smith, but with all the benefits of free weights.

hum… If you want to stay in the “safe side” give this a try it worked for me.

Don’t Bench to ur 1RM, or bench until exhaustion, UNLESS you have a spotter.

Just Bench up to your 3RM, or 2RM, then take a short break, and attempt to do the same weight. Usually you will do 1 rep less. (However, anytime you hit 5 reps, stop, and up the weight 10-lbs).

This is the method I used to bring up my Bench, Deadlift, and I am now using for my Front/Overhead Squat.

Give it a try for 3weeks…

[quote]bcac wrote:
I am sure this question has been answered before, but how bad is it to use the Smith Machine. I am asking because I train alone and I am trying to increase my bench numbers (225 lbs to 255 lbs). I have been using it for safety reasons. Just curious. [/quote]

I can’t see any plausible way that you will increase your free weight bench by using a smith machine. Period. If you’re trying to gain strength you need the benefit of full mobility and complete engagement of the mind/muscle connection.

The added safety factor of the smith machine is a myth. Increasing your bench on free weight doesn’t require maxing out everyday or going anywhere near failure. You can design a very challenging program where you will likely never have to worry about missing a rep. six work sets of 3 to 4 reps twice a week with plenty of rest in between sets will get you to where you want to be a lot faster.

The Smith Machine is great…for me to poop on.

bench to your chest, not your neck, like a powerlifter. Then its easy to push it down towards your feet and slip out. Or you can be a pussy and not put clips on so you can just let the weights fall off one side.

Ok lets look at the reasons someone would use a smith machine.

Pro Smith Machine-

#1- If we are talking purely building muscle mass, especially in a high TUT constant motion type of way, the smith machine is not a bad way to go for incline, decline, flat and to a lesser extent, shoulder presses. Bent over rows can also be done on the smith and are ok during the same circumstances as the above exercises.

That is it. In terms of usefulness specific to the smith machine. And it is not that the above exercises are better, just serviceable on the smith machine.

Con Smith Machine:

Now if we are talking safety and overall size and strength and you must be buying smith machine to use at home, or else you would be able to get a spot at the gym, I dont think you would let the fact that you are training alone dictate your training regimen; correct? If you are lifting at home you could easily afford an excellent bench where you could set pins at your chest height on sets where you were wanted to go to failure. Or, I would say you would be better off not going for reps you were not sure you would get than using the smith machine.

You sound like you are using it to increase your free weight barbell benching strength. If this is the case you can just forget it. You should go practice jumping in a pool and go see how much your vert has increased while your at it.

[quote]bcac wrote:
I am sure this question has been answered before, but how bad is it to use the Smith Machine. I am asking because I train alone and I am trying to increase my bench numbers (225 lbs to 255 lbs). I have been using it for safety reasons. Just curious. [/quote]

There isn’t a thing wrong with the Smith Machine. Most rage against it because they see others raging against it and it’s the cool thing to do.

Naturally you’ll get a more complete workout if you use free weights. The reason being is that you’ll be using supporting muscles which the Smith machine takes out of the picture.

Other than that, you’ll get a great workout with the Smith. I could run some of the folks that rage against it, through a workout on the Smith and they would be quite sore the next day.

Look at it and use it as just one more tool in your arsenal. Not unlike the Leg Press machine, it adds variety and a safety factor not found with free weights. Just remember to change it up. A steady diet of machines is not as good as a steady diet using all of the tools in your bag.

Oh, and don’t forget to do Chins, you don’t need a spotter for those either.

:wink:

Good Luck,

Zeb

There is absolutely nothing wrong with the smith machine. Low incline smith presses are now a staple exercise for me, and i’m getting stronger on it with no problems. Any exercise you can get progressively stronger on, is a good exercise. Who cares if it’s on a machine or with dumbbells, etc.

Smith machines suck. Saw something new in one the other day though. A guy was spotting his girlfriend on step ups, pushing her up by her ass. Interesting

Do what you gotta do to get results.

[quote]robo1 wrote:
I can’t see any plausible way that you will increase your free weight bench by using a smith machine. Period.
[/quote]

Really? I’m gonna have to go ahead and disagree with you on that one. Sure, using a Smith machine won’t be as good as you wouldn’t be hitting stabilizers, but you’re still training the chest, tris, and delts to push weight. I don’t see how gaining strength pushing in a Smith machine wouldn’t translate AT ALL into strength gains in pushing with free weights.

The idea that someone else had that you might be doing 255 in a Smith machine, but you could only do 205 with free weights seems pretty ridiculous as well.

Smith Machines are the real cause of global warming. Manufactures of Smith Machines must be stopped, or slowed considerably, in order to save the environment. Go green. Go free weights.

[quote]Dexter Morgan wrote:
Do what you gotta do to get results.[/quote]

Poster please read above. Your question can not be answered any better.