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In defence of Smith Machine Squats6456

brian12 private msg quote post Address this user
I decided to switch barbell hack squats to smith machine squats as one of my three quad exercise on the DC program. (so I am rotating between barbell squats, leg press, smith squats). Was searching for some thoughts on smith squats and came across this... good read.

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Okay here it goes.....power lifters feel free to fire at will he he he .

There is a group that is very strongly against the use of a Smith Machine for Squats. Most of these people are against the use of any machines for that matter.

NOTE: Let it be made prefectly clear...I THINK THE REGULAR BACK SQUAT IS BETTER THAN THE SMITH SQUAT FOR MOST, unless you just cannot correct an excessive forward lean due to py biomechanics.


A large portion of the people who hate the Smith are power lifters and I will agree that the Smith machine serves little purpose for the power lifter as one must always work on balance and skill in power lifting. HOWEVER many very good bodybuilders use the Smith machine on a routine basis. Some, such as Dorian Yates, dropped the regular Squat after getting very strong in the squat simply because they could squat safer with the Smith. Dorian has admitted that he does Not have the best biomechanics for free squating and after years of refusing to use the smith he finially tried it and found it helped him. Dorian also says that everyone should learn to free squat very well if they can before using the Smith.

I used to belong to this "camp" and thought that anyone that used the Smith Machine was a wimp and simply too lazy to learn the skill of regular back squatting. I too also thought that the Smith machine caused injury and reduced the effectiveness of the squat.


Well I am a born squater.....biomechanically near perfect for squating. I can squat a great deal of weight and love the regular squat. I can do the power squat but prefer the regular high bar(olympic/bodybuilding style)

Even though I have excellent form in the squat I have from time to time tweaked my low back coming up from a very hard rep. Most experienced trainees will not get away with years of heavy squating without some minor low back/sacral "tweaks" It just takes a split second of too much forward lean out of the bottom "pocket" of the squat and tweaked your low back.
Anyway this "tweaking" rarely happens with good squaters but one day it happen fairly noticably with me. I was then forced to rest the squat for a few weeks. It was then that vey large power lifting friend of mine suggected that I use the Smith. WHAT!! heresy of heresy! hard core buddy suggesting the SMITH! After listening to his explaination I decided to try the Smith.

To my shock I was able to position my feet and body identically to the back squat. My form sta rock solid out of the bottom and my form was very solid and powerful. I was able to focus more on effort and less on skill and balance and this stimulated gains. The Bar never dipped forward and tweaking my back coming out of the "pocket" at the bottom simply because it can't.

I do sometimes position my feet about a cm forward from my regular back squat foot position and this helps to reduce low back strain even though I still have proper forward lean.


Never use the Smith because you don't want to take the time to learn the skill envolved in regular back squating, either power of high bar style.

Never use the Smith to take stress off the hamstrings and butt by placing your feet far forward of the bar. All this does is reduce thigh load, even though it may feel greater. It also puts the knees is a weird position and this could cause injury.


#1. The Smith takes away the skill needed to free bar squat.
Well this is only partially true but it does hold some weight....but it applies to the power lifter and Olympic lifter much more than the bodybuilder and holds little to no weight for the muscle building body builder.

#2. The Smith takes away stimulation of the synergists or stabalizers because good balance and stabalization is not required during the lift.
Well I think this is BS....stabalizers get plenty of work with machines. It does take away from the need to balance and when the going gets really intense I actually think this is an advantage for the body builder and not a disadvantage.

#3. The Smith causes the bar to move staight up and down and this is not a natural squat movement.
Well..unlike the bench press in which the weight is suppose to move in a J hook( although not everyone does this) the weight in the squat should go more straight up and down. I squat totally staright up and down although some have some degree of forward to backward motion. Even if your natural groove causes more forward to backward travel ,being forced to move the bar straight up and down is perfectly safe just like using the hammer bench press is perfectly safe for those that like to do the J press in the regular bench.
My regular back squat and smith squat look exactly the same...same forward lean, same sit back, same depth, same tibial angle, and the bar moves straight up and down.

Injury in the smith comes form poor form...having excessive foot placements either forward or backward.

#4. The Smith forces the torso to move much closer to verticle than in a regular back squat and this decreases the load to the hamstrings and low back.
Well...this is often seen with the Smith as many people place their feet too far forward and some people focus on staying too erect BUT it doesn't have to happen. My feet are usually placed in the exact same place under the bar as with a regular free bar squat and my hams are plenty stresses as are my erectors...AND BTW I sure the HELL do not squat for erector stimulation ...I DO DEADLIFTS FOR THAT!

#5. The Smith causes the knees to come too far forward over the toes making the angle of the tibia too steep and reducing the effectiveness of the movement.
well...this can happen IF you try to keep your back verticle or if the feet are too far back but again it does not need to happen if the feet are placed under the bar in like manner to the free bar squat.

#6. The Smith forces the user to use it pre determined plain of motion.
Well this is plain BS! You can change the plain YOUR BODY moves along by altering foot position forward and back by small to tiny amounts. In fact you can make the Smith squat almost EXACTLY like the free bar squat.
It is actually GOOD that the bar moves straight up and down and this certainly will not hurt you UNLESS you have a severe foot position.

With any machine one has to adjust their body alignment so that the movement is natural and follows a natural groove. Some machine make it very hard to adjust ones bodily plain of motion but it is easy to do in the Smith.

*****IN FACT some people NEED to have their "natural" groove altered because they simply CANNOT SQUAT in good form due to py biomechanics.

Many simply cannot correct an excessive forward lean. I used to think that this was BS but it is NOT! Some people simply cannot safely squat with a free bar even after working on technique and ankle/hip flexibility. My wife is a prime example.......very long legs, short torso and a py squater. If anyone could get her to squat correctly it would be me but alas she cannot squat intensly and safely unless she uses the Smith machine. In the smith machine she can squat deep and pretty well and with no excessive forward lean and resultant back pain/injury.

#7. And the one that bugs me the most....The Smith machine(and all machines) do not produce "functional strength" in other sports and in day to day life beacuse it does not teach balance and doesn't work stabalizing muscles and muscle that stabalize lateral or twisting forces.
Well, to this is say a BIG BS! First of all machine work does indeed work stabalizers well.
But most importantly the body uses the power and strength from muscles and tendons and adapts it to sporting activities , such as the verticle jump, pushing a football sled, powerful skating. In order to see improvement in any particular sporting movement one HAS TO PRACTISE THAT PARTICULAR MOVEMENT. So if you want to skate fast and with power then practise proper skating, if you want to improve your verticle jump than practise it, if you want to have a good drive from the bottom in Olympic lifting then you have to practise the balistic drive from rock bottom in EXACTLY the manner used by Olympic lifters, AND IF YOU WANT TO HAVE A BIG POWER SQUAT THEN PRACTISE THAT etc etc.
Not only that but athletic ability is BORN and NOT made for the most part, especially such things as verticle jump and speed.

The use of free weights does NOT translate to better functional strength in day to day life or athletics...thats a BS pipe dream made up by haters of machines.

Lastly these people that hate the Smith, and I was one of them, usually hate all machines and site similar reasons NOT to use them.
Well to this I would like to also say BS...he he he. There are some excellent machines out there. One benefit of machines for the body builder is they allow more focus on effort and less on balance and skill. Some aalso have a better strength cure and eliminate stciking points etc.

AFTER ALL THAT SAID.... there is no machine that can duplicate any form of deadlift or the free squat.
The Smith machine is good for those that KNOW HOW to use it safely(no excessive foot positions) BUT THE FREE SQUAT IS BETTER if you can squat safely.

So if you use the Smith don't think you are doing yourself a favor by placing your feet far forward to the bar and going down half way...this does nothing. Use the Smith in like manner to the free squat with only very small foot alterations if any at all.

And please.....don't use the Smith because you are too lazy to learn to free squat.

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The Dark
eknight private msg quote post Address this user
I would counter with:

Smith Squats can lead to injury because they put stress in places you don't want it. If you do them with your feet under the bar, it adds extra flexion to the knees, which is unduely stressful and can lead to knee injury. If you do them with your feet forward to avoid the added patella stress, your back takes more weight than it should and is under considerable more stress, leading to potential lumbar injury. Plus, in this position, your feet are going to feel like they will slide forward. In order to prevent them from doing so, you push back and up simultaneously, adding more stress to the pelvis and creating an unsafe and unnatural movement.When you use the Smith Machine, the natural tendancy is to lean back into the bar, which takes the hamstrings out of the exercise. Underdeveloped hamstrings can lead to a slew of stability issues in the joint, most of which are centered around the ACL. Further, the movement itself is stressful. If you put your feet underneath the bar, the knee flexion is exaggerated causing additional stress to the knee. If you put your feet out in front of you, the want to slide forward, but won't because of floor surface friction. This instability is also stressful to the knee. You're safer free squatting where you can set pins in the power rack and drop the weight if you have to. -3X
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david12345676 private msg quote post Address this user
@op holy shit, china called and they want their wall back.

aint no one got time to read that
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NorIda private msg quote post Address this user
Originally Posted by david12345676
@op holy shit, china called and they want their wall back.

aint no one got time to read that

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cardinal private msg quote post Address this user
The main problem with smith squats is they're of little to no use to me as a powerlifter. I can't follow the correct barbell path as due to being locked in an up or down motion my knees can't bend at the correct point and I can't sit back into the squat. Essentially I can only move up or down.
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brian12 private msg quote post Address this user
@eknight Shot for that response.

So do you think it is a bad idea for me to use smith squats in my DC rotation? (considering that I am pushing to failure) I love normal squats and have been setting PR's consistently. But with DC I need to rotate three exercises. Normal squats and leg press are two of the three. I was using barbell hack squats, but I feel that this taxes my upper body a bit too much. My gym in Korea doesn't have a hack squat machine... hence my thought of changing barbell hack to smith squat.

Suggestions would be great
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The Dark
eknight private msg quote post Address this user
Front squats or lunges. -3X
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brian12 private msg quote post Address this user
Originally Posted by eknight
Front squats or lunges. -3X

Okay - I think I'll opt for front squats
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kickinchicken private msg quote post Address this user
Smith Machine squats always feel like I'm doing a Hack Squat. I think people forget about front squats because most people can't use as much weight as a traditional. And front squats are a nice change-up. I think they're pretty fun.

It's also one of those exercises you swear nobody is doing until you start doing them and it makes you feel like everyone is following you because you're so freaking huge and crazy strong so gotta follow along!!!
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AKK private msg quote post Address this user
Work on your flexibility problems instead of making excuses for why you cant push your knees out.

You cant squat with tight ankles thats for sure.
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brian12 private msg quote post Address this user
Originally Posted by AKK
Work on your flexibility problems instead of making excuses for why you cant push your knees out.

You cant squat with tight ankles thats for sure.

who are you talking to? confused..
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