Smith Machine Squats: A DANGER To Your Physique

Smith Machine Squats: A DANGER To Your Physique
Smith Machine Squats: WRONG!
Smith Machine Squats: WRONG!

There’s the illusion and misconception that exercises such as the squat and seated overhead press are safer than utilizing the barbell.  Sure, the motion is either up or down and as long as you can handle the weight it is safe.

Barbell Squat: That's better
Barbell Squat: That’s better

However, squatting in the Smith machine corrupts the natural squatting form due to the rigid vertical pathway.

The use of a Smith machine is full of dangerous compromises for the relative feeling of safety.

The rigid pathway dictated by the Smith machine conflicts with your natural path dictated by your body.

The issue is that if you change your body position to limit stress on your knees it increases the stress on your back and vice versa.

Ditch the Smith and get a (not too) friendly buddy to spot you for safety
Ditch the Smith and get a (not too) friendly buddy to spot you for safety

If you place your feet forward in the Smith machine squat, to prevent your knees traveling in front of your feet at the bottom of the movement, you put your lower back at risk. When your feet are forward you lose the natural inward curve/arch in your lower back because your hips are forward and not in the ideal position. Furthermore, your hips may move much further forward that your shoulders and over exaggerate your arch in the lower back – this is all ripe for causes back problems further down the line.

Now, placing your feet forward does not spare our knees from injury, as you descend there is exaggerated friction between your feet and the floor in order to stop your feet slipping forward – this is essentially causing forces that are trying to internally wrench open your knees, obviously this is a horrendous thing to do to you body.

If you then bring your feet back so they are directly beneath your shoulders, when you descend your knees will travel forward in front of your toes when your thighs are near parallel to the floor and these, again, suffer hugely.

Get a cost effective yet highly effective barbell squat rack for GAINZ
Get a cost effective and highly effective barbell squat rack for GAINZ

As you can see, the Smith machine is fraught with problems for the user and is only really good for calf raises and maybe shrugs.  Realistically it is massively overrated, and if you are considering buying your own equipment, it is over priced.

Get yourself a squat rack/cage and a barbell or just head to the free weights section in the gym and let the wannabe’s get moist over it.

Alternatively, if you are buying your own equipment and you do not have the space for a squat rack or cage you should buy a trap/hex bar. It is even cheaper and a great way to hit your quads and back.

Now who’s getting all moist..?

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Ben BA(Hons), PGCert

Ben established this site to be a free resource in 2015. Since then it has gained over half a million visits. He has always been interested in sport and he started playing rugby at the age of 6 represented his town, county and school. Ben also enjoys cycling, has started skiing and is in the Army Reserve representing his Regiment as part of the 150 Regimental Shooting Team. He holds a bachelor's and postgraduate degree in sport exercise & nutrition.
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