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How to Squat in a Smith Machine?

Not sure where else to post this. Hopefully someone can help.

I’ve just joined a gym after lifting with free weights at home for a while. I’ll continue to use free weights, but the gym has the machine pictured here, which I think I’d like to use for maximal squats, since I usually won’t have a spotter around (or I won’t want to bug someone).

I’m especially interested in the squat workout mentioned on the front page this week. The question is, the rail is at a 7-degree angle. The HammerSrength website says “7-degree bar angle follows the natural free weight path of movement for pressing or squating”. If I’m squatting, would I stand outside the machine facing in, or inside the rack facing out?

[quote]tbartman wrote:
Not sure where else to post this. Hopefully someone can help.

I’ve just joined a gym after lifting with free weights at home for a while. I’ll continue to use free weights, but the gym has the machine pictured here, which I think I’d like to use for maximal squats, since I usually won’t have a spotter around (or I won’t want to bug someone).

I’m especially interested in the squat workout mentioned on the front page this week. The question is, the rail is at a 7-degree angle. The HammerSrength website says “7-degree bar angle follows the natural free weight path of movement for pressing or squating”. If I’m squatting, would I stand outside the machine facing in, or inside the rack facing out?[/quote]

I do facing in cause thats where the mirrior is

I’d very rarely use the smith machine at all, but occasionly use it for heavy calf raises, and very close stance squats.I stand in, facing out

Both. Until you find out which way is more comfortable.

Does your gym also have a power rack? attached. You set the rods at the correct height that if you fail you can set the bar on the pins. This way you are still in a free range of motion and don’t need a spotter.

In my opinion, the smith machine squat does not feel natural because the barbell is locked in to one plane of motion. When you squat naturally, the bar will travel forwards and backwards. All my opinion of course and if your gym doesn’t have a power rack it is irrevelent.

[quote]DJS wrote:
Does your gym also have a power rack? attached. You set the rods at the correct height that if you fail you can set the bar on the pins. This way you are still in a free range of motion and don’t need a spotter.

In my opinion, the smith machine squat does not feel natural because the barbell is locked in to one plane of motion. When you squat naturally, the bar will travel forwards and backwards. All my opinion of course and if your gym doesn’t have a power rack it is irrevelent.[/quote]

Agreed, I tried smith machine squats and immediately felt strain on my back, and knees. We had a power rack, until the worthless rec. center I work out at replaced it with one where the bar is on the outside of the frame and you have to step back into free space to squat.

We only have straight up/down smith machines over here so I can’t comment. The straight version is perfect for squats and front squats, but that angled one? Mh… Bill Roberts wanna chime in here ?

www.bodybuilding.com/fun/videos/2005/smithmachinesquat.wvx

There you go, but in MY opinion they are not very good.

On the other hand, do it the Dan John way… buy a set of sawhorses and thats all you need plus a bar and weights :slight_smile:

Just clean and press the weight up, then squat ! When you get stuck leave it on the saw horses and off you go again.

[quote]DJS wrote:
Does your gym also have a power rack? attached. You set the rods at the correct height that if you fail you can set the bar on the pins. This way you are still in a free range of motion and don’t need a spotter.

In my opinion, the smith machine squat does not feel natural because the barbell is locked in to one plane of motion. When you squat naturally, the bar will travel forwards and backwards. All my opinion of course and if your gym doesn’t have a power rack it is irrevelent.[/quote]

Thanks for the advice. Yes, there is a power rack as well, and that would make me feel comfortable upping the weight significantly without worrying about killing myself! My only concern is that I notice at home (a rack with the pins on the outside, and I have to step back from it to squat) is that when I push the weight, I know my form starts to suffer (too much leaning forward with the lower back) so I didn’t know if the Smith would prevent that. Then again, maybe that means I shouldn’t be doing weights I can’t do with perfect form, huh?

I’ll try both the Smith and the power rack and see. I agree with the first post, that being able to watch myself in the mirror will help significantly (I don’t have a mirror at home).

Tom

If it squatting FORM your interested in then here is one video:

http://thefitcast.com/?p=108

Dan john on squatting/deadlifting.

Well worth the watch.

Besides that if your caving in and keeling over then your “core” or abdominals may be to weak.

If i were you i would back off on the squats and initiate an assistance program for your leg day for the squats, so when you return you will shoot up.

DO NOT ignore a problem by using a machine. FIX IT !

Use the rack with a barbell, adjusting the parallel bars to protect you from failure at the bottom like mentioned above. It really doesn’t sound like you should be performing maximum squat sets either from what I can gather. Start light and slow to prevent hurting yourself otherwise you won’t have a say in how you lift because an injury doesn’t give any other option.

[quote]tbartman wrote:
Not sure where else to post this. Hopefully someone can help.

I’ve just joined a gym after lifting with free weights at home for a while. I’ll continue to use free weights, but the gym has the machine pictured here, which I think I’d like to use for maximal squats, since I usually won’t have a spotter around (or I won’t want to bug someone).

I’m especially interested in the squat workout mentioned on the front page this week. The question is, the rail is at a 7-degree angle. The HammerSrength website says “7-degree bar angle follows the natural free weight path of movement for pressing or squating”. If I’m squatting, would I stand outside the machine facing in, or inside the rack facing out?[/quote]

Given that the weight has to stay above your feet at all times in a free-weight squat (i.e. move pretty much straight up and down), I don’t see how a 7-degree angle is in any way “natural”.

[quote]tbartman wrote:
DJS wrote:
Does your gym also have a power rack? attached. You set the rods at the correct height that if you fail you can set the bar on the pins. This way you are still in a free range of motion and don’t need a spotter.

In my opinion, the smith machine squat does not feel natural because the barbell is locked in to one plane of motion. When you squat naturally, the bar will travel forwards and backwards. All my opinion of course and if your gym doesn’t have a power rack it is irrevelent.

Thanks for the advice. Yes, there is a power rack as well, and that would make me feel comfortable upping the weight significantly without worrying about killing myself!

My only concern is that I notice at home (a rack with the pins on the outside, and I have to step back from it to squat) is that when I push the weight, I know my form starts to suffer (too much leaning forward with the lower back) so I didn’t know if the Smith would prevent that. Then again, maybe that means I shouldn’t be doing weights I can’t do with perfect form, huh?

I’ll try both the Smith and the power rack and see. I agree with the first post, that being able to watch myself in the mirror will help significantly (I don’t have a mirror at home).

Tom[/quote]

“Then again, maybe that means I shouldn’t be doing weights I can’t do with perfect form, huh?” I think this nails it. Don’t use the smith machine as an excuse to use more weight than you can really do.

[quote]tbartman wrote:
<<<< The HammerSrength website says “7-degree bar angle follows the natural free weight path of movement for pressing or squating”. If I’m squatting, would I stand outside the machine facing in, or inside the rack facing out?[/quote]

Mine also has a 7 degree angle, I used a torpedo level to find out, and it works just fine for squatting. I do it facing out of the machine with my feet a few inches in front of the bar.

I marked the carpet mine sits on with a line that matches the bar at bottom and have found that the balls of my feet about 4 inches or so in front of that line gives a me a very natural feeling plane of motion.