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Smith Machine Squats vs No Squats



So the gym at my work doesn't have a squat cage. All it has is a smith machine. I've read all about how smith machines are bad for squats, but when there's no other alternative, is it better to use the smith machine, or not squat at all? The only other option are leg presses.

Short of signing up for another gym, what is my best option?


you can squat in the smith no problem, or instead just do heavy sets of leg press with your feet positioned differently to target the same muscles.


Lunges, Bulgarian Split Squats, Dumbbell Squats, Front Squats by doing a clean to get the bar up...


I once was in the same situation. What I did was unconventional to say the least. I used a bench to hold the bar . I never could use very heavy weight, but 225 was a good cap.


Any squats are better than no squats.

Use the smith, leg press, single leg squats, heavy lunges, front squats (clean the weight), split squats (clean bar or use DBs), etc. Hell do zerchers. There are still many options even without a rack.


Most people should be able to do them fine....give smith front squats a try. Incredibly brutal :smiley: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D1YwkX6gmyM


I've read some stuff by John Berardi and Charles Poliquin and they say that the smith machine puts stress on the kness and takes hamstrings out of the equation.... Do your own research though.


Find a new gym.


How much weight can you get on your back with out a rack.Clean 135 or so lower it to your back and do super high reps.


The best option is to use the smith machine. I can't believe this question even gets asked. Sure you can load 135 and do 100 reps. Or you can load the smith machine as much as you want , and crank out your normal 3-5 or whatever you do.

And yeah, I guess the smith machine does put stress on the knees since its all one plane, but hell, you squattin 500 pounds is suddenly stress free? The smith machine gets unnecessarily raped on this site. One last thing... join another gym.


Some extra strain on the ACL, yes.
take the hamstrings out of the equation, no...move your feet forward so your torso is more upright. Getting off the toilet will suck for the next couple of days.


Strengthen up your posteriar chain and learn to snatch or clean and jerk acouple hundred pounds and do overhead squats.



I do not have access to a squat rack either, and have been using the smith machine for squats for a little over 2 months with no ill side effects that I can identify.

I am training 5-3-1 - BBB, and my squat routine looks like this:

5-3-1 squats are done with a very wide stance, feet are more or less directly under me, toes pointing out close to 45 degrees.

For each of my following 5 sets of 10 reps, I narrow my stance slightly, move my feet slightly forward and close the toe angle.

My last set almost looks like the same position you'd be in doing a wall sit.

The only thing I noticed I needed to be careful of was making sure that as I narrowed my stance, I also moved my foot position further out in front. If I did not, my knees were traveling way too far in front of my feet and the next couple of days I would experience some slight knee irritation.

I am using split squats and step ups as alternate accessory exercises at times.

Good luck to you.


i agree, move your feet out in front of you... far enough to where if the bar wasn't there, you would fall back. this keeps your torso upright and focuses the work on the quads and glutes. With your feet awkwardly out in front of you, know that when you join a real gym with better equipment you will need to go lighter to perfect your free weight form. Also, the smith machine takes off around 30 lbs so you will need to take that into account when you squat in a rack.

Walking barbell lunges, dumbbell lunges, split squats, step ups, front squats, zercher squats are all options... don't do leg day with the leg ext/leg curl machines at risk of being shot when you move to the new gym.

For hamstrings you could do good mornings, romanian deadlifts, or partner leg curl (no homo)


also, use the search engine here and look up speed skater lunges... i think that is what they are called... they are a split squat with both feet on a box or bench to really tear up the quads and open up the hip


i agree...find a new gym :stuck_out_tongue: ...or take a page out of Pavel's book and do some pistols! then take a couple pages out of Coach Boyle's book and do some unilateral leg work with dumbells. Your strength gains will be much more functional this way, and your knees will thank you (and you will look cool)


Smith Front Squats are pretty good...


I use the smith machine for squats because I have lower back issues. It works for me...I did 405 X 20 last week. I also use the smith for bench pressing. People can say what they want...it works for me.




zercher squats.