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What is a Smith Machine good for?

Posted: Sun Mar 17, 2013 5:26 pm
by chrisl
The little gym I go to has quite a few machine (both Nautilus and Paramount) and a large set of dumbbells, but no barbells at all except for locked into a Smith Machine. I know the Smith Machine isn't good for squats or deadlifts because of body mechanics, but how about bench presses? Or anything else? I guess maybe shrugs, but I'm a beginner and don't really need that kind of isolation much. Maybe calf raises (with straps)?

Re: What is a Smith Machine good for?

Posted: Sun Mar 17, 2013 6:07 pm
by stuward
Incline pushups, inverted rows, towel rack, I'm thinking...

Re: What is a Smith Machine good for?

Posted: Sun Mar 17, 2013 9:27 pm
by Stephen Johnson
Reverse lunges and standing calf raises

Re: What is a Smith Machine good for?

Posted: Mon Mar 18, 2013 7:57 am
by robertscott
lots of things, just get creative

Re: What is a Smith Machine good for?

Posted: Mon Mar 18, 2013 9:05 am
by Ironman
Hanging up your coat....

Re: What is a Smith Machine good for?

Posted: Mon Mar 18, 2013 10:47 pm
by chrisl
robertscott wrote:lots of things, just get creative
True. I hear they are good for drying clothes. I just don't want to do exercises in which the machine is more likely to hurt than help!

Re: What is a Smith Machine good for?

Posted: Tue Mar 19, 2013 4:32 am
by Nevage
I like them for close grip bench press to isolate the triceps. Easy to go to failure. Haven't used one in years though.

Re: What is a Smith Machine good for?

Posted: Tue Mar 19, 2013 6:58 am
by robertscott
chrisl wrote:
robertscott wrote:lots of things, just get creative
True. I hear they are good for drying clothes. I just don't want to do exercises in which the machine is more likely to hurt than help!
well it provides resistance through a range of motion so it's never really gonna hurt anything, it just won't train your stabilising muscles like a barbell would. There's still lots of things you can do with it. Some fun things you can try are:

-close grip bench like Nevage said. You can actually turn it into more of a JM Press (google it) which is fun. Tough on the elbows though so be careful.
-InHuman Press. This is a weird one. It's quite hard to describe but you basically lie so that only your upper back is on a bench, with your lower body hanging off. As you press the barbell up you also push towards your feet. Toasts the tri's.
-triceps death! Here's a video:
-shrugs
-behind the back shrugs
-one armed smith shrugs
-smith high incline press
-standing calf raises
-seated calf raises (put something soft under the bar and rest it on your knees
-bent over shrugs

that's all I can think of just now. The only limit is your imagination. There's only two movements I'd say to never do on the Smith and that's squats and deadlifts. I know a few people who swear by smith squats (you can get creative with your foot positioning to target your quads better) but it just always felt horrible to me.

Re: What is a Smith Machine good for?

Posted: Tue Mar 19, 2013 8:45 am
by Ironman
I would mainly just advise against squats, or at least be very careful. That angle can be very hard on your knees. I wish it weren't so because they have a smith machine in the fitness center where I work. Between there and home, I really only have a gym membership for the leg press and the barbell racks/cages at this point.

Re: What is a Smith Machine good for?

Posted: Tue Mar 19, 2013 4:08 pm
by Matt Z
I've noticed most people put their feet way too far back on Smith Machine Squats. This greatly limits their depth and/or forces them to lean way forward like a Good Morning. Without the machine they would fall forward. Others place their feet so far forward that the lift resembles a Sled Hack Squat. Without the machine they would fall backwards.

Similarly, when people perform Bench Presses or Incline Presses on a Smith Machine it's common to see them pressing at an angle that would cause the bar to land on their face or lap if they were using a barbell instead of a machine.

I think it's very easy to get into bad habits when you're locked into vertical tracks.

Re: What is a Smith Machine good for?

Posted: Fri Mar 22, 2013 12:31 pm
by chrisl
Thanks for all the advice. Nothing's ever certain, eh? I found myself confused somewhat by the two articles here at ExRx on Smith Squats... they lead me to believe they are OK?

I'd link to them, but apparently I'm not allowed to!

Re: What is a Smith Machine good for?

Posted: Fri Mar 22, 2013 12:45 pm
by stuward
You're allowed to do whatever you want. The opinions of the people on this forum don't always match the main site since we didn't write it.

Jame Griffing is the author of the main site. His opinion is here: http://www.exrx.net/Questions/SmithSquat.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Re: What is a Smith Machine good for?

Posted: Fri Mar 22, 2013 2:33 pm
by chrisl
I know the people on the forum aren't those who write the site. Do any of the authors listed on the site hang out here too?

I'm OK with the diversity of opinion, though ultimately it's hard to know what works best without trying it, something I worry a slight bit more about doing when injury might result!

I meant I was *literally* not able to post the links to the two Smith Machine pages, which seemed like they might be useful to other people (like me) when they search. When I tried to I got a message saying I couldn't post links... :con:

Re: What is a Smith Machine good for?

Posted: Fri Mar 22, 2013 3:12 pm
by Stephen Johnson
chrisl wrote:I meant I was *literally* not able to post the links to the two Smith Machine pages, which seemed like they might be useful to other people (like me) when they search. When I tried to I got a message saying I couldn't post links... :con:
For the Smith Machine squat

http://exrx.net/WeightExercises/Quadriceps/SMSquat.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

For analysis of the SMS:

http://exrx.net/Kinesiology/SmithSquat1.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

BTW - some of the newer smith Machines allow horizontal motion. My Gym has one