T Nation

Smith Machine


#1

Hi,

I workout in a ladies gym (closest thing to my house) and the only way I can use a decent weight on my bench press is with the Smith Machine (highest barbell is 50lbs). I've read in a few places that the Smith Machine isnt good for bench pressing. Is this true?

Miche.


#2

From my experience, It's not bad for a quick change from the regular bench. But, it is absolutely not a substitute. Dumbbells actually seem to give me better results, so I base most of my chest workout around them.


#3

I'd strongly suggest you find a new gym.


#4

They don't have any adjustable barbells? How about dumbbells? If not, then yeah, I think I'd look for a new gym. The Smith isn't good because you can develop injuries because of the repetivat nature of the doing the same groove all the time. Plus, it doesn't train your stabilizers and you don't develop much real world strength. It's also no ideal for squats, at least not if it's the only thing you use.


#5

Miss em, Smith Machine bashing is in vogue these days and it is a pity as it can be a valuable part of one's training. I agree that free weights are best but, used properly, a Smith Machine can be a close second to free weights in terms of results and can be much safer if you workout without a spotter. I have seen a lot of people over the years pinned under free weights when working out alone but I have yet to see it happen with a Smith Machine. Smith Machines, or any machine for that matter, are not inherently bad. They are just another tool in your training regime. That said, I would personally agree with the poster who said that he gets more benefit working his chest with dumbells than barbells. I can get a better stretch and range of motion with dumbells and I tend to "cheat" less with them. Happy training!


#6

Thanks for the reply. A lot of people have told me to use dumbbells for benching instead of a Smith or a barbell. I think it would be a good change so I'm gonna try that.

I don't train with anybody (yet). So...for squats...I am a bit nervous about using a barbell. I have knee probs so I'm cautious about how far past the toes my knees go. I find that I have more control of the motion with the Smith Machine so that I can use a heavy enough weight without compromising form or my knees too much. Is the Smith okay for squatting? Or is that a no-no too??

Thanks,

Miche


#7

Don't buy into all this crap about Smith Machines being bad. Until definitive studies are done proving otherwise it's B.S. Yes some people may have a problem but that probably has to do more with bad form and lack of concentration than anything else. Personally the Smith Machine gives me great results especially when I use it for Incline or Shoulder Press. Hey this gym you go to is close to your house which probably keeps you consistent with your workouts. So unless you are experiencing problems stick to your routine and stay consistent. Nothing brings results better than consistency.


#8

I agree that Smith machines are bashed unnecessarily. I once saw a guy do deadlifts on a Smith machine and I do think that is bad. The bar needs to be in contact with your body at all times during a deadlift and that is impossible to on a Smith machine.


#9

To miss_em, the Smith Machine allows you to press in a straight fixed line. You need to change the working plane to a more 3 dimensional plane. Use DB at different bench angles on different days and after a cycle with them, go and test yourself on the Smith Machine. You should see an increase.

As for free squats, do you have a strong back and core, good hamstring and glute development? Are you good at deadlifts with knees behind toes? Can you perform split squats in a deep ROM? Do you have good flexibilty in the hips, knees and ankles?


If you want to free squat by yourself, then make sure you work in a power rack with safety pins. Start with a standard BB, a small ROM and work your way down till your skill and confidence levels rise. Practice squatting backwards so you put less stress or shear on the knees. I suspect that is why you like the Smith Machine.

If you do not have access to a power rack, then try Smith Machine Split Squats keeping your leading knee behind your toes and emphasise a deep stretch of your quads and glutes. You can also do them with DBs and rear foot elevated on a bench or high step.


#10

See. The reason I'm afraid to free squat is because i have pfs (patellafemoral syndrome) and my knees overall are pretty weak. so i REALLY have to make sure that my knees don't pass my toes. I'm at the point where i'm REALLY paranoid about that. I guess I technically shouldn't be squatting either, but my physiotherapist is an idiot and told me that i can develop strong muscular legs using the elliptical machine. I tend to not listen to her because the elliptical machine hurts more than running does. I've tried single leg squats (foot propped on bench) but i can't get a good weight because my UB is considerably weaker and i refuse to cheat and where wrist straps. I deadlift, but it hurts to do straight leg and i usually do the 'romanian' kind.


i have a day of the week where i do core training. i try to do some exercises on the swiss ball (for Upper body days) to improve that area. the first thing that i learned when i started lifting weights was that all of the muscle in the world wont help you if your core is week.

Miche