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  1. #1
    Registered User Squooshy's Avatar
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    Purpose of Smith Machine?

    The squat racks at my gym are usually pretty packed, but the Smith machine is eternally empty, save for the one guy who does calf raises once in a blue moon. My question is what else could I use a smith machine for, and is it a significant downgrade from the unassisted squat rack?
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    The women in my gym love the smith machines for hip thrusts.
    All it takes is consistency, effort, proper nutrition, good programming, and TIME.

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    The problem with using a smith machine for the big 3 lifts, especially at heavier weight, lower reps. Is the fixed bar path. The likelihood that bar path is optimal for your body's bio mechanics is slim.
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    Train hard play harder Tommy W.'s Avatar
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    I bench with it because of trashed shoulders. The best exercise though is close grip bench press semi skull crusher style.
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    Registered User Squooshy's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by xsquid99 View Post
    The women in my gym love the smith machines for hip thrusts.
    Unironically this is something I'd love to do. I have a frightening genetic history of Hank-Hill ass and setting up hip thrusts with barbell are very annoying. It would be nice to have some safeties in place so I don't have to crawl on the floor at the end of a set. So they just push a bench up to the machine and go to town?
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    Originally Posted by Squooshy View Post
    The squat racks at my gym are usually pretty packed, but the Smith machine is eternally empty, save for the one guy who does calf raises once in a blue moon. My question is what else could I use a smith machine for, and is it a significant downgrade from the unassisted squat rack?
    * Things I use my Smith machine for
    Bench
    Incline bench
    Decline bench

    Shoulder press
    Upright row (at times)

    Skull crushers
    Close grip bench

    Squats
    Front squats
    Split squats

    Calf raises

    I have seen people do chins and body rows and barbell rows and even deadlifts (shrug)
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  7. #7
    I love my power hour MrCarrot's Avatar
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    I use it for shrugs and I see plenty of people benching with it. Years ago I used to do front squats with it.

    Putting aside whether the bar path is optimal or not, it's more akin to a machine exercise where you don't have to worry so much about balance and coordination.
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    Originally Posted by Squooshy View Post
    The squat racks at my gym are usually pretty packed, but the Smith machine is eternally empty, save for the one guy who does calf raises once in a blue moon. My question is what else could I use a smith machine for, and is it a significant downgrade from the unassisted squat rack?
    Use whatever works for you, but if you're new to lifting & are going to use the smith bar, I suggest continuing to also do big lifts with a freestanding barbell so you learn the movements properly (and have a point of reference for comparison).
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    Registered User EliKoehn's Avatar
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    It's easier than the free barbell, has several failsafes along its path and requires no stabilization. Depending on your circumstance and goals, that can be a good or bad thing.
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  10. #10
    Train hard play harder Tommy W.'s Avatar
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    Beginners shouldn’t use the Smith unless they have some sort of issue that prevent the use of free weights
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  11. #11
    Registered User FoxFireFlame's Avatar
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    With a fixed bar path, Smith Machine is very good for assistance and modified exercise.
    In other words, great for someone with an injury or disability.
    I believe the optimal lift setup is inside a power rack since you don't need a spotter but still have to balance the bar.
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  12. #12
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    Originally Posted by xsquid99 View Post
    The women in my gym love the smith machines for hip thrusts.
    So do I, it's much easier to set up than with a free weight barbell. The bar path is close enough to being straight IMO.

    I've also used it for front squats (I can't get comfortable with back squats), seated overhead press (or steep incline bench press technically), I also use it as a support doing sissy squats.
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  13. #13
    Registered User jaxqen's Avatar
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    I like the usual debates for the smith machine
    Usually, people prefer a stable environment
    You need to squat or bench on a stable surface, right?
    if you squat or bench on a gym ball, is not stable, of course, and people who do this get laughs instead
    With Smith it becomes even more stable
    But no, more stable is not better because you need those stabilizers to get strong
    And yet, very, very few bench with a bamboo bar, with kettlebells and chains over it, to create even better stabilizers

    Smith can be OK
    Maybe not for flat press, because of the path, but I don't see a problem for incline or squat
    I like to learn from the mistakes of the people who take my advice.
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  14. #14
    Train hard play harder Tommy W.'s Avatar
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    Amazing. We’re making it through a whole Smith thread without the “I use it to hang my towel on “ comment
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    Walking lunges are a beast in a Smith Machine! Especially if it's bolted down.
    In seriousness I use my Smith as an alternative to just about any free weight exercise. The only things you can't do in one obviously is a movement where the bar has to travel away from your body, like cleans, snatches, etc.
    "It is my own fault for replying in a smith thread." deadwoodgregg

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    Some smith machine facts…

    Some smith machines have a counterbalanced weightless bar…load accordingly
    Others have bearings and a standard bar, load accordingly
    Still others have an actual Olympic bar, plus additional hardware that makes the bar 65 lbs or even 70. Load accordingly
    Some smith machines work on rails, if unoiled, can make weights move slow dragging steel on steel…oil em up.

    I have zero appreciation for the angled rails. That’s just weird.
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    Originally Posted by Tommy W. View Post
    Amazing. We’re making it through a whole Smith thread without the “I use it to hang my towel on “ comment
    It reminded me about this


    I like to learn from the mistakes of the people who take my advice.
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  18. #18
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    Originally Posted by BiGx5MurF View Post
    The problem with using a smith machine for the big 3 lifts, especially at heavier weight, lower reps. Is the fixed bar path. The likelihood that bar path is optimal for your body's bio mechanics is slim.
    +1. Any type of bench press on the Smith always made my elbow joints scream and didn't work well with my tendency for shoulder impingement either. I like it for standing calf raise, shrugs and a handful of other movements, but for me it's usefulness is very limited.

    Originally Posted by FoxFireFlame View Post
    With a fixed bar path, Smith Machine is very good for assistance and modified exercise.
    In other words, great for someone with an injury or disability.
    I supposed it depends on the nature of the injury or disability. For the reasons state above, I find it wreaks havoc on my 44 y/o joints with certain lifts.
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  19. #19
    Train hard play harder Tommy W.'s Avatar
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    Originally Posted by jaxqen View Post
    It reminded me about this


    lol
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    Smith Machines prevent injuries which is a huge plus, but I'm really not a fan of the restricted motion
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    Originally Posted by Tommy W. View Post
    I bench with it because of trashed shoulders. The best exercise though is close grip bench press semi skull crusher style.
    I honestly used to hate the Smith..for anything but inverted rows or heavy shrugs..

    BUT

    with modifications like this for big movements, its actually viable for straight up hyp work similar to any other machine..

    or as supplemental work for athletes who also do free weighted 'athletic' stuff for the other benefits and performance elements.
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