T Nation

Only Smith Machines?!


Ill be relocating soon. I have an option to join my local employers gym at a discount. The issue is that all the bar workouts ( bench,squat,DL,etc. ) are on smith machines. I think its so none of their employees get seriously injured. They do have a good selection of DBs but no free bars.

Should I stick with this gym or find another?

Thanks for reading.


That's crazy. How heavy do the dumbells go? You could do a lot of single leg stuff with dumbells. Not sure I would join though. What's the discount?

Shop around. Try out as many gyms in the area as you can. Another option is to buy a power rack and barbell set for home and just use the work gym for DB workouts (do squats, deads, etc at home).


You can get good workouts with smith machines such as incline benching if your going heavy and no one to spot. However, I do not prefer them for squatting. If your looking for variety and and more possible exercises then find another gym with free barbells not ones that are stuck on guided tracks.


If their reasoning for offering a gym with only a smith machine to use for bar work is to reduce the risk of injury then they're idiots who haven't done their research, a fixed line of motion that a smith machine forces your body to use, especially for the bench press and squat when going heavy actually increases the risk of injury.
Do yourself a massive favor and join another gym


Perhaps the gym only offers smith machines for bar work because they don't expect people to go heavy. Whether you like it or not, not all gyms are catered to bodybuilder and strength athletes.
To the OP, its simply going to come down to cost/benefit and the type of training you wish to engage in.


Like ds asked... what exactly does this mean?

And I'm assuming they do have other gym basics like assorted benches (flat/incline/adjustable), pulldown/cable stations, various bodypart machines, leg press, etc.

That mostly depends on what you plan on doing there. Think of your current abilities (strength-wise), think of your short-term goals, and think of the types of training/workouts you'll need to do to get from point A to point B.

Do you think you can design an effective training program using the equipment available here? Maybe you can, maybe you can't. Maybe it'll be too much of a hassle and you won't progress very quickly.

If it's a ridiculously good discount, it might be worth it. But ideally, I'd find someplace that has a more complete selection of free weights.


Go somewhere else. The place you described sounds like a Planet Fitness or a Snap 24 hour fitness. Those places hardly qualify as gyms in my opinion.


The price is 15bucks a pay period. So 30bucks a month. DB selection- Ill see if I can take some pics tonight.

Thanks for all the response so far.


Depends on the person, I've known some people to get consistently good results on a smith machine, for others it just doesnt seem to work as well for whatever reason. I would need a free bar personally and I would recommend to most people access to a full "real" gym but you could give it a try and see how it works for you.


$30.00 per month? In this economy, you can probably join a real gym for $20.00/month.


Smith machine = front squats, military press, incline BP, bent over rows, shrugs.

Stick with this gym unless you can find something cheaper. Are DL that important?...are you training just to stay in shape, hypertrophy or strength?


Yeah, not worth it. Look around in your area. When I moved to the area in june '06, I tried out a few gyms in the area and joined one gym on a 3 month trial (reduced price membership) deal they had. I was lucky enough that near the end of that offer, a gym was opening up near work and offered 0 down, $20 per month for 2 yr minimum contract then continuing on as long as you didn't cancel. Take your time, look around, buy some day passes or sign up for trial memberships (careful of fine print or pushy sales people). You can do better than a gym with only smith machines.


X2 Thirty bucks a month is not a bargain (at least in my parts).


You could try stuff like goblet squats with the dumbbells.
You can also do single leg stuff, but this gym doesn't sound too great to me even for the price.


On the east coast, ~$30/mo is pretty standard from what I've seen. In fact, most of the better gyms I've seen are considerably less.