T Nation

Squats and Evil Smith Machine

Alright… So i am new to ACTUAL weighted squats. I am not really comfortable with the movement just yet for a lot of reasons, a knee injury, i have a tendency to turn out because i was trained first as a dancer, etc.

Right now i am doing squats in the Smith Machine, and it seems that most people think this is a bad idea. Im game to that train of thought because i can totally see how limiting the machine can be.

So here’s my question… what can or should i do to ween myself out of the machine and perform squats correctly?

Ive read a bunch of the article on here, but none of them really address how to go from using the machine to perform squats to using the machine as a coat rack.

Read the 2-3 Mike Robertson articles on squatting. And start with as little weight as you need to. Hell do a few empty bar sets to get the groove. I really dig Mark Rippentoe’s book: Starting Strength for teaching squat form. The squat chapter alone is 50 pages, so it is very thorough and has really helped me make each squat consistent.

There is no weening, just start doing free weight squats.

I guess the only thing you should relize is that the weight you do on the free quat will be less than what you do on the smith machine.

So don’t be discouraged when you have to lower the weight.

But on the plus side your gains will quickly improve.

Just consentrate on form unil you are comfortable with the movement.
Good luck

Use lighter weight and work on form. Check out the video for Back Squat on this site for form.


The other thing you can do to get form down is to try box squats. I remember reading somewhere that one of the “easy” ways to learn good squat form is to learn box squats.


I started squatting on the smith and really wish I hadn’t. These guys are right though you just have to start light and learn how to do it. You will probably be wobbly and unsure of yourself for a little while, but you will get it down.

Don’t be intimidated. You may be somewhat startled at how different the free weight movement feels in light of how similar they seem to be. “Weening” will just prolong the process.

For me the key to learning to squat was to get to the point where it was simply automatic. Watching videos and reading articles will help you, but if you can, find someone who knows how to squat and have them go over your form with you. Then, all you have to do is squat…

start with light weights or just a broomstick or pvc pipe.

check out this video by Dan John. Its long, but the 1st 10 mins are all about proper form when squatting.


step 1. stop squating in the smith machine

step 2. put bar on your back and squat

start off as light as needed

I use the Smith Machine to stretch. I set the bar to about eye level and hang from my hands in the position of a squat until I feel the stretch. It is part of my morning ritual

Hey, you will love the free squats once you start them. I first started doing squats with a 30 lb curlbar and quickly worked my way up to the oly bar, and now with 40 lbs…just add the weight slowly until you’re comfy.

I do know that squats are part of the post-op for an acl reconstruction, and probably pre-op as well.