Smith Machine

Smith Machine

You may be keeping up with the Joneses, but what about the Smiths?

If you’ve never used a Smith Machine, it can be an intimidating prospect. However, this piece of fitness equipment provides a safe way to get a full-body weight training workout. Read on to allay your fears and get more confident about trying a Smith Machine for yourself.

What Is A Smith Machine?

A Smith Machine is an exercise machine used for weight training. It includes a barbell that is stabilized inside two side rails so that it can only accommodate vertical movement. This is said to prevent shoulder and back injuries common in weight training. They are sometimes called Smith Cages.

Where Does Its Name Come From?

The Smith Machine is named after its inventor, Rudy Smith, who developed the idea in the 1950s. Smith owned a gym and was working with fitness legend Jack Lalanne to develop a machine that would allow Lalanne to lift heavy weights safely without the use of a spotter. Equipment builder Paul Martin built the first Smith Machine from Smith and Lalanne’s sketch. The machine became popular in the 1970s.

What Type Of Exercise Do You Do On A Smith Machine?

The Smith Machine facilitates strength training moves and helps to build larger muscles. In strength training machine use, the lifter uses concentric and eccentric muscle contraction to oppose the force of gravity. The Smith Machine can be used for both compound and isolation lifts.

Preparing For A Smith Machine Fitness Session

Step up to the Smith Machine’s supporting frame and position yourself by moving your feet slightly in front of the barbell. It doesn’t matter which way you face, so choose the orientation you feel most comfortable with.

How To Properly Use A Smith Machine

You can perform a variety of lifts on a Smith Machine, including back squats, deadlifts and barbell rows. For each, you’ll want to keep the following in mind:

  • Try to avoid letting your back round or curve while you lift
  • Keep your feet planted firmly on the floor, ever letting your heels come off the mat
  • Don’t let your knees collapse toward one another

Understanding The Benefits

The most important benefits of the Smith Machine are:

  1. Ability to lift without a spotter
  2. Protects your shoulders and back from injury through increased support
  3. Provides a full-body workout

Additionally, many weightlifters say the Smith machine makes lifting easier because the machine stabilizes the weight for you. This allows for the ability to master lifts that are otherwise very challenging.

The ‘Angled’ Smith Machine

There is one variation of Smith Machine available in some gyms – the angled Smith Machine. This variation is specifically for doing bench presses. It ensures that the barbell can travel a natural, angled path up over your head as you lift.

If you’ve been staring at the Smith Machine at your gym and wondering how in the world to use it, it’s time to put your new knowledge to the test. In exchange for your bravery, you’ll get a safe strength training workout to benefit your whole body, and maybe even impress your fellow fitness buffs in the process. 

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