T Nation

Smith Machine vs.Free Weights for Bench

Waaayyyy tooo many people start off on smith machine. It should pretty much be banned from beginners.

If you want to push yourself on the bench, and it actually means something to you then get over whatever hang ups you have and ask for a spot.

Believe me I’m an introvert, and I like to know I can do the weight without people there to help me, but on times I really have to push myself I ask for a spot. The only time asking strangers for a spot really gets dangereous is after you get over 300 at a fitness gym, and 400 at a muscle head gym. In which case you can make it a little safer by describing how you want the person to spot you.

[quote]caladin wrote:
Smith Machines = Towel Holders[/quote]

Gold.

I use it to assist with stretching.

Good work lifting man, congrats.

btw, you can still hurt yourself badly on the smith machine…that thing sucks.

It’s only good (IMO) for my amusement.

Back on the free bench again tonight. Have to say I feel safe on it now. Just a case of biting the bullet. Nothing bad will happen at the weights im pushing, unless I lose grip.

[quote]davidtower wrote:
If you’re eating enough you should be able to add 5-10lbs to it the next week and still be ok.[/quote]

Not really understanding this. Say if, even at the pessimistic of 5 lbs every week (which is by no means a dig at david, as I’ve read a few times now that I should be able to add this amount), that means by Christmas I’d have added 40lbs to my bench. Then in a years time I’d have added 240 to my bench?

So I’m assuming it’s newbie advise til the gains taper off. So how long can adding the “5-10lbs” be a feasible goal for?

I used to feel that all machines were garbage…especially the smythe machine. That is the general thought on T-Nation.

Then I read about Doggcrapp training (DC for short)

While I’m not saying that a newbie should be or could be training DC style…I will say that some of the strongest and biggest MFers out there use the smythe machine on a regular basis to do rest pause sets to ABSOLUTE failure.

And when I feel I’m ready…probably in a year or so…I’ll be right there with them

[quote]oats-and-whey wrote:
Back on the free bench again tonight. Have to say I feel safe on it now. Just a case of biting the bullet. Nothing bad will happen at the weights im pushing, unless I lose grip.

davidtower wrote:
If you’re eating enough you should be able to add 5-10lbs to it the next week and still be ok.

Not really understanding this. Say if, even at the pessimistic of 5 lbs every week (which is by no means a dig at david, as I’ve read a few times now that I should be able to add this amount), that means by Christmas I’d have added 40lbs to my bench. Then in a years time I’d have added 240 to my bench?

So I’m assuming it’s newbie advise til the gains taper off. So how long can adding the “5-10lbs” be a feasible goal for?

[/quote]

Yes…obviously until the gains taper off…although depending on your training and most importantly food intake (in my opinion) you could add 40 lbs to your bench by Christmas. When the weights stop going up…you can pick a different pressing movement.

In the past 6 weeks I’ve added 30 lbs to my bench and I have no doubt that next week I will make it 35. I also attribute some of my bench gains to finally training my triceps directly and have already added 40 lbs to my close grip bench. That and I also am benefiting from newbie gains too as I’m finally taking my training (and eating) seriously.

Do you have a Power Rack at your gym?

Set up a Dumbbell Bench in there and set the safety pins so when you dump the bar, you can flatten out and the pins will catch it.

Keep in mind that Barbells in Smith Machines usually weigh only 15 pounds, and sometimes they’re counter-balanced so they barely weigh anything at all.

If the bar is going all over the place, do 2 things:

(1) Bring the Barbell so it touches BELOW your Nipples

(2) Pinch your Shoulder Blades together.

There. You’ll be fine.

[quote]echelon101 wrote:
oats-and-whey wrote:
Oh just a word on safety as I may be missing the problem - with free on the bench, cant u just bring it down safely onto your chest and then either ditch the weight?

So I am benching lets say with 2 plates on each side. I bring the bar down onto my chest nice and controlled. I tip one end of the bar to get the plates off …here’s where you idea falls down

I now have a bar with plates on one side and now suddenly the end of the bar shoots up into the air whilst the otherside clatters to the ground.

Safe? I think not.

If you are only just starting out you should use free weights and only go to active failure ie you stop on the rep before the rep on which you would fail on. That’s how rowers do their strength training. There’s is nothing pansy about not going to failure.[/quote]

Untill the bench gets really heavy you can just slide the bar from your chest to your hips and then sit up. It feels a bit unpleasent but you’ll survive.

The smith machine isn’t a horrible tool, I use it. I use it after free-weights when i’m more burned out and less able to hold a bar with a lot of weight steady. It’s been effective so far.

Check out this thread in T-Cell Alpha:
http://www.T-Nation.com/free_online_forum/blog_sports_training_performance_bodybuilding_alpha/opinion_of_smith_machine

I’m a newbie and am adding about 5lbs to my bench a week. Keeping up that pace for a really long time might not be totally realistic, but the main point is not to be afraid to add weight to the bar, ever.

As far as a spotter for bench goes I wouldn’t worry about it, I work without a spotter most of the time and it’s not a big deal at all, i’m still making great gains.

alright… this is funny. Did my 5x5 bench on the free weights then decided to do one set on the smith machine for shits and giggles. Loaded it up with as heavy as I could go on the free weights, started lifting and whadday-know… smith machine equivalent light as a feather… could have lifted that all day. Make of it what u will, but funny stuff!

I don’t train with a spotter either,and I use dumbells.If you’ve got a decent bit of natural strength,getting the dbs up to your chest shouldn’t be a problem,particularly considering you’re new to training,which means you more than likely won’t be lifting very large weights.

Dumbells can also be a positive replacement for barbells as they develop both sides of your chest equally.My left pec and arm is far stronger than those on my right and using dumbells has balanced it out somewhat.

I just remembered something the smith machine is much better for - dynamic bench (there was something on T-Nation about it basically use a light weight and instead of going to lockout throw the bar up in the air and catch it).

I did some of these when a random douchebag convention (never seen them before or since) had taken over the normal bench and they were fun and left me damn sore the next day.