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Squat vs Smith Machine Squat


Hey guys, i want to learn the difference between squat vs smith machine squat.
I'm asking, because don't have squat rack or power rack in our gym.So i cannot do regular squats anymore.
Is it good doing smith squats or i must switch squat to another exercise? (Btw right squat form is harder when i doing with machine.)

ps : Sorry, my english isn't good.



the main difference, and it is a big deal, is that the element of "balance" or "stabilization" is NOT present with 'machine squats'.

Basically, the machine squat will be easier, and be less effective for you because it has already determined the 'plane of motion' for you.

Basically, think about it this way:

When the machine was made, it was molded after a certain person, and you are NOT that person. Neither am I.

If anything, you should use the machine at the end of your leg workout. Consider grabbing a dumbbell in each hand and do lunges or Bulgarian Split Squats.

The BSS are harder(and better) than any machine squat you will ever do.


Thanks for reply Claudan.

Actually i'm doing Vince del monte's defeat skinny genetics program. (I'm at last week of 4-6)

I asked this because i must do that exercise every week and lunges already placed in my program.
So you are saying BSS will be greater than smith squat? But what about weight? i'm not sure but i guess i'm doing smith squats ~80 kg but it's impossible for bss for sure.is this impact gaining?


Does your gym have sufficiently heavy dumbbells? If so, you could do goblet squat instead. Basically holding a dumbbell at the shoulder level and squatting with it, like a front squat except it's a dumbbell. Once you get up to the heaviest dumbbell in the gym, you can hold 2 at the same time to keep getting heavier.


Somthing to keep in mind with smith machine squats is foot placement. Everyone has the habit of standing in front of the machine, and leaning back into it, like a hack squat. This is bad, if your going to use smith squat as main move, and it can be done, make sure you place your feet under the bar.

Try to replicat a real squat as much as possible, keeping your ankles, and body under the bar. Also if the smith machine is on a lean, make sure your squating up, and back so the bar is leaning away from you. If it was me I would do front squats with the smith machine, it seems to work better. You can work up over time to a heavy front squat, still build big legs without as much wear and tear on the body.

When you front squat your body remains more vertical, this lends itself to the smith machine. You don't have to hold the bar, just hold your hands straight out in front of you, pointing slightly upwards,(make a pistol out in front of your face) Put a pad on the bar if you need, and find a comfortable spot to sit the bar on your front shoulders, and squat. These plus leg press, Goblet squats, bulgarian split squats, step ups, dead lifts, give you lots of free wight options for legs.



power clean then front squat.


I do not like this post and don't think posts like this are beneficial to the site on the whole.

Lot of bro science here if that. Not trying to be a dick, just invite you to consider alternative perspectives.

What does "effective" mean? Effective for what?

Yes, smith squats are in a fixed plane of motion, and it is EXACTLY for that reason they can be brutally effective IF you're goal is to really target your legs. Taking a BB squat to failure will not hit your legs the same as smiths to failure, because it's always gonna be upper back, lower back, etc. giving out long before your quads with a BB. Fixed plane of motion, fix the tension on your legs. Vary foot position--width, how far in front of bar, etc.--and you can really target different things. So I have no idea where you're going with the whole "it was designed for a person that's not you thing." It slides on a vertical track. Be as tall or short as you please. Use whatever stance you please.

EFFECTIVE has contextual definition.


Nice post Jake. My thoughts on the Smith machine squat: I rarely do them personally, as I prefer a variety of different leg exercises over them. Occasionally I'll do a sort of "challenge" set at the end of a session where I'll try to hit as many quality reps as possible in a certain amount of time, usually 75 seconds. Usually when I see someone doing Smith squats, at the gym where I train, I can tell it's either because they are easier than BB squats or that the person simply doesn't know how to BB squat. But I agree with everything you typed; if a lifter has a plan of attack and knows what he or she is doing, it can be a highly effective exercise


Thanks for great responses guys but my mind confused.There is a lot of exercise advice but I just want replacement exercise which is equal or close enough to squat maybe continue with smith squat with combination X movement for stabilizer muscles.

And this is my complete program (I'm at 5x5 phase right now and today is last and i'll jump 6x6 on monday) maybe whole movements can more accurate perspective for advice.

Back Squats 5 x 5
Stiff-Leg Deadlifts 5 x 5
Barbell Curls 5 x 5
Barbell Shrugs 3 x 30
Calf raises 3 x 30

Weeks 4-6 Tuesday:

Dumbbell Bench Presses 5 x 5
Barbell Rows 5 x 5
Dumbbell Shoulder Presses 5 x 5
Weighted Abdominal Work 3 x 30

Weeks 4-6 Thursday:

Deadlifts 5 x 5
Lunges 5 x 5
Close Grip Presses 5 x 5
Barbell Shrugs 3 x 30
Calve Raises 3 x 30

Weeks 4-6 Friday:

Incline Bench Presses 5 x 5
Seated Row 5 x 5
Military Presses 5 x 5
Weighted Abdominal Work 3 x 30

Stage 3 - 6 x 6 Strength Phase:

Weeks 7-9 Monday:

Back Squats 6 x 6
Bench Press 6 x 6
Bent Over Rows 6 x 6
Upright Rows 3 x 15
Calve Raises 3 x 15

Weeks 7-9 Wednesday:

Lunges 4 x 8-12
Stiff-Leg Deadlifts 4 x 8-12
Dips 4 x failure
Chin Ups 4 x failure
Weighted Abdominal Work 3 x 30

Weeks 7-9 Friday:

Deadlifts 6 x 6
Military Presses 6 x 6
Wide Grip Pull Ups 6 x 6
Barbell Shrugs 3 x 15
Calve Raises 3 x 15

Stage 4 - 7 x 7 Strength Phase:

Weeks 9-12 Monday:

Back Squats 7 x 7
Stiff-Leg Deadlifts 7 x 7
Barbell Curls 7 x 7
Barbell Shrugs 3 x 30
Calf raises 3 x 30

Weeks 9-12 Tuesday:

Dumbbell Bench Presses 7 x 7
Barbell Rows 7 x 7
Dumbbell Shoulder Presses 7 x 7
Weighted Abdominal Work 3 x 30

Weeks 9-12 Thursday:

Deadlifts 7 x 7
Lunges 7 x 7
Close Grip Presses 7 x 7
Barbell Shrugs 3 x 30
Calve Raises 3 x 30

Weeks 9-12 Friday:

Incline Bench Presses 7 x 7
Seated Row 7 x 7
Military Presses 7 x 7
Weighted Abdominal Work 2 x 20


Some of those rep ranges are wayy off. I'm all for taking an established program and substituting exercises and changing things but.....lunges at 5x5 doesn't make sense. A 5x5 protocol is typically used at heavier weight on "bigger" exercises and lunges are a higher rep/lower weight "assistance" type movement; same for arm movements. Also what is the rationale behind 3x30 for shrugs?

Also, you have close grip presses followed the next day by incline presses. It's better to have those on the same day. Why not just use a standard 4 day upper/lower split? So much simpler and already made for you. No work required on your part really.

It's better to take an established program and sub an exercise out here and there depending on what you have available in your gym or even based on your preferences.


Agreed here. I use smith machine squats to great effect. I can get a wider variety of foot placement and stance width to isolate different muscle without having to worry so much about balance.


I don't know man i'm just newbie here someone recommended this program to me (i'm skinny) actually it's worked in weeks (68 kg to 74 with fat and some muscle).

I'm just eating healthy foods but like a truck meh it's off topic.Anyway i want to finish this one just focusing weight gain and right form of movements then i will ask for greater workout program.

If we back to the main subject i asked squat because people saying dont do programs without BB squat/deadlift/bench/row is it myth don't know but a lot of people saying that and also i read a lot of review about skinny workouts everyone saying you must doing compound movements.This is why i created this topic.


OP, an easy answer to your question is yes. It seems like your a beginer, and you have a basic program to follow. You can place smith machine squats in where your program has squats, keep your feet under the bar, and make sure you get down as deep as you can (whats comfortable for you) There's a stupid debate in fitness over the smith machine, but this has no bearing on you as a beginer.

Weather your using a smith machine or regular squat you need to focus on proper form. Look up goblet squats here, and try to do some of these possibly before you do your smith machine squats. This will help teach you the proper grove when you squat, somthing the smith machine can't do. If your gym has a leg press, don't be afraid to substitute this in as well. Goodluck
Also Stronglifts is a great sight for beginer's. I't based around one program, and can be a little less confusing at first.


Gaining 6kg in 6wks is a little fast, unless you started off severely underweight. Unless you don't mind the fat, it might be a good idea to keep the "bulking mindset" in check.



In general terms the more fixed/stable an exercise is then the more one is able to really hammer the prime mover(s), and the less stable/fixed the more the stabilizers will likely be the limiting factor. Both ends of the spectrum can be beneficial, you just have to know when each is appropriate to use.

One more vote for Smith Squats (front or back), Goblet squats, or dumbbell squats.


Yes, everything you say is correct and not really a revelation.

In my thinking, the squatting represents a compound exercise. Fact of the matter is that squatting in a smith-machine doesn't really transfer over to IRL. If you gotta pick your wounded sister off the street and carry her to the nearest hospital, you're going to regret doing smith-machine squats.. bro.

In case I didn't make it clear in my OP, machine-squats as EOD are absolutely welcomed.

edit: reading back over it, maybe 'effective' wasn't the best choice of words...


But how well do BB squats carry over to real life? More than machine squats for sure, but by the same logic if I needed to pick up and carry an injured person I might regret focusing on squats so much at the cost of neglecting strongman event type training, such as loading or stones.

This whole discussion seems rather silly to me since no one even asked the OP what he's training for. Are machine squats appropriate for bodybuilding-related goals? Absolutely. For goals involving strength sports or other competitive sports? It might be less ideal. For strength sport related goals, I would go with alexus's suggestion of power clean -> front squat.


He's a beginner, so by the end of the first year if all's well, he can hope to be proper deep squatting 2-300lbs at best. The difference in gains at the end of said year, weather he was using smith machine or not, are probably non existent.

If all training goes perfect for first year, he will than likely be able to make informed decisions. OP ignore all the rhetoric going on here, your first year of training focus on the basics, and on proper form. If you train hard and consistently, at the end of the year you'll probably be bigger and stronger than all the computerits trying to confuse you with nonsense.

Go to the sight I recommended,-progressive-consistent-basics for the first year. No matter what your goals are, getting stronger progressively is the way to start. Use what you have, Goodluck OP


Thanks guys i'll do goblet squat (it will be like warm-up set because bigger dumbbell is ~40kg) then smith squat but like i said before the proper form is hard when i train with machine. If i feel like my legs aren't working well, then i'll do leg press.


Performed properly, Smith squat works quads like no other. Your back has to be totally straight and vertical. Then you will your quads and the DOMS the next day.

First time I used the smith (I don't use it anymore because I don't like the form) with squat I tried to use the classical squat form. It resulted in back bain and hammering the posterior chain (in a bad way I suppose) instead of quads.

But with correct form, your quads will work. A lot.