T Nation

Smith Machine Form Problems


#1

for the first time last week I used a smith machine. Now, i'm not sure if its the fact that its something new to me that im working through, but I was highly disappointed in my first week of using it. The safety aspect was extremely nice, but it felt like I was in a bad grove that my mechanics were being contorted. Perhaps ive been wrong this whole time, but any advice from people who have more experience with a smith?

Squats was the biggest issue since i'm a low bar placement I found it difficult to get my hips back and stop the bar attached to my rear delts. Really wanna get at least a solid month of use out of it if possible.


#2

Expensive Coat Hanger !

The reason Free Weights are preferable is because they follow YOUR natural movement patterns.
When you have to get Your Body to move the way a machine dictates, bad shit can happen. … …


#3

kind of what I thought, but only doing 3 of the big 4 I thought maybe I was using it wrong since I was lifting alone in the gym my work office provides, I didn’t have any eyes on me to ask for advice. I was assuming that deads are impossible to do as well?


#4

I’m not sure how you are using the Smith Machine but some people find it better than free weights for some exercises. Dorian Yates only used Squats with a Smith Machine. It sounds to me like you may be trying to do a powerlifting workout on it. The Smith Machine is also a good choice if you want a workout that does not have as strong a negative- ie. an active recovery workout.

You may not be able to do exactly the same workouts as you normally would, but don’t blame the machine.


#5

I like the smith for high incline presses, and there’s a few other cool things you can do with them. You could get a pretty good upper body workout with one but I don’t think lower body stuff’d be worth it. Maybe a split squat, I suppose.


#6

im not blaming the machine per say, I was wondering if I was wrong or just on the learning curb. Perhaps its because I had to stay upright more, but my squat was felt much more in my quads than my glutes and hams so I did like that. It was just uncomfortable. keeping my wrist locked over the elbow isn’t natural to me.


#7

Here’s what I like the Smith-Machine for:
standing calf raises with something to put under your toes (if no access to the normal calf machine), barbell shrugs and also seated overhead press.

In the past I used to squat in the Smith-Machine because I had no other option then, but I wouldn’t do that anymore nowadays. Your body doesn’t tend to travel in a straight line when you squat like the smith-machine forces you into.

Anyways, with these things I believe that you should experiment for yourself, try stuff out, see how it feels and decide for yourself what you like best.


#8

I had planned to do a lot of experimenting, but I try to stay open minded to other peoples suggestions until I know if they work for me or not. Like the calf raises and shrugs I wouldn’t had thought of using it. When you used for squats what kind of set up did you use, heels elevated, low or high bar etc.


#9

[quote]BigEasy24 wrote:
I had planned to do a lot of experimenting, but I try to stay open minded to other peoples suggestions until I know if they work for me or not. Like the calf raises and shrugs I wouldn’t had thought of using it. When you used for squats what kind of set up did you use, heels elevated, low or high bar etc.[/quote]

Basically I used to squat back then like I saw all the guys do in the bodybuilding magazines: high bar, fairly narrow stance. I tried heels elevated once or twice back then, but didn’t stick with it as it felt awkward.

However don’t get lost too much in the minutiae: the fact that you’re training legs at all, with any consistency and with the intention to raise the weight on the barbell over time already puts you ahead of over 90 percent of ordinary guys going to the gym. Not every detail of your workout has to be perfect immediately, you change and improve as things go along.

Do I recommend you to do squats with free weights? Yes (mainly out of personal concern of what that linear path of the Smith-Machine will do to either the knees or vertebrae over the course of many years of lifting heavy weights). Will it destroy all and any possibility of gaining mass on your legs if you do squats with the Smith-Machine? No. The muscle is contracting under the stress of weight, has to adapt and BOOM hypertrophy :slight_smile: .


#10

I enjoy the smith machine a lot actually. Behind the neck OHP are great with it IMO. I think some of the best chest pumps I’ve had was doing declines on the smith. Some don’t believe in declines and feel they’re worthless, but I love them on the smith.

I like the smith machine mainly because it takes stability out of the equation and let’s me focus purely on the concentric and eccentric movements. The safety aspect is nice when your training partner isn’t there and you don’t trust any of the dipshits in the gym to give you a spot. I don’t like squatting in them though. Just feels awkward and BB squats work just fine. I don’t use the machine exclusively, but I will incorporate it into my training when I feel is necessary. Either beacuse of nagging pains or the station i planned on using is just not available.

I agree with calf raises because my gym doesn’t have a standing machine. I’ll use an exercise step or 45lb plate for increase ROM.


#11

There are so many things you can do in a Smith Machine…

Hack Squats in the Smith Machine

  • BAR ON YOUR BACK. Not that wannabe hardcore version where you hold the bar with your hands behind you. Feet out in front of you. Upright torso. Drop deep below parallel for a stretch in the quads.

Wide Stance Squats from Pins

  • above parallel. High reps.

1 legged Good Mornings

Barbell Rows/ Deadstop Rows

  • The Smith Machine is perfect for barbell rows because when you want to hit your lats, the bar should be pulled IN AN ARC toward your lower abs.

Mid Back Rows on Incline Bench

  • Wider grip. Elbows flared. Pull to sternum.

Limited ROM Bench Presses(all angles)

  • Keep constant tension on the muscle. Middle 1/3 ROM.

Low Incline Press to neck

  • High reps.

Scrape the Rack Press(look it up)

Seated Shoulder Press

  • Elbows must be UNDER THE BAR. Do not turn it into a chest exercise. Flare your elbows AFTER the bar has passed head level.
  • After last set, set up the pins so the bar is at nose level, drop weight, press the bar from the pins and ramp up in sets of 6 until you can’t get 6 reps. (Charles Glass style)

This is just off the top of my head. Have fun.


#12

In addition, you must think about muscles, not movements. If you are squatting and wish to target the quads, whether you need to elevate your heels or not is dependent on whether you can feel your quads working and are able to keep an upright torso. There are no fixed rules on how to execute a movement. There are only guidelines. You do what works for you and adjust according to how you feel.

IF you have an intention of training specific powerlifts, DO NOT TRY TO MIMIC THE LIFT on the Smith Machine. You will fuck up your motor patterns.


#13

^one legged good mornings sound interesting.


#14

if its the angled shoulder press against the rack then it is amazing to use, I’ve done versions of it with the bench press and a bent over row


#15

I like the smith machine for barbell rows and sometimes shoulder presses. That’s about it though. Squats feel awful to me on them. Keep in mind, not all smith machines are built the same. Some have a completely vertical bar path, but others are at a slight angle. The ones that are at an angle are really bad for squatting, but I prefer them for the shoulder pressing.


#16

[quote]dt79 wrote:
There are so many things you can do in a Smith Machine…

Hack Squats in the Smith Machine

  • BAR ON YOUR BACK. Not that wannabe hardcore version where you hold the bar with your hands behind you. Feet out in front of you. Upright torso. Drop deep below parallel for a stretch in the quads.

[/quote]

This. I haven’t done smith squats in a while, but this was the only way they felt right and definitely hit your quads hard.


#17

If it’s at a slight angle is it less like a true shoulder press and more like a landmine press?


#18

I avoided the Smith for years as I didn’t like the fixed bar path but I found the fixed bar actually was great for SHIP’s (seated high incline press) as it takes away the stabilisation factor. This comes in handy when training to failure or doing rest pause, cluster sets etc…

I also like to squat in a Smith. For years I would never even consider it but I read something by John Meadows where he was talking about placing your feet well in front of the bar so you kind of lean back into it . You keep a straight back and basically turn it into a hack squat. I tried it and it’s probably the best way I have found to isolate the quads.

If my gym had a Hack Squat Machine then I guess I would just use that but It doesn’t so I use the Smith.
Funny how for years I avoided machines and now I find they can actually be very good.


#19

[quote]BigEasy24 wrote:
If it’s at a slight angle is it less like a true shoulder press and more like a landmine press?[/quote]

depends on which direction you’re facing on the machine.


#20

guess the smith machine at my workplace must be an older since its straight lined and has no room for standing over heads. how do you like doing the mod landmine on the smith?