Little history of Smith machine
First of all, against the popular belief smith machine was not invented by someone named smith. In fact, its prototype was designed by a well known american fitness expert; Jack Lalanne, for his own personal use.
When Rudy smith saw it, he knew the potential it had to revolutionise the way we exercise. And, he commercialised it and started manufacturing to meet the growing demand.
At the time it became popular, maybe the inventor or the promoter of smith machine didn’t know how versatile this machine was.
The best part about it is the fact, it is a spotter on its own. It helps you challenge your limits, that you won’t do otherwise.
In this article, we are going to talks about various smith machine exercises you can do to build each and every muscle in your body.
Bench pressing on a smith machine is very-very common, so it won’t be covered in this article.
Smith machine exercise for triceps
Triceps is a very important muscle if you want big and sculpted arms. Although, there are lots of exercise you can do for triceps, but close grip bench press is one of its kind.
It is absolutely similar to a normal bench press, except in this, you can to hold the bar closely.
Your hands should be you chest width apart, but you can move a little bit to see what works best for you.
Since, the stabilisation part is covered by the smith machine, hence you can fully concentrate on putting tension on the triceps.
You can go a little heavier as compared to what you do on a normal bench. And, you need to adjust the bench, such that when you lift the bar, it should be in line with your lower chest and abdomen.
Initially, it is better to not hold the bar too closely, like what to see in the above picture. As you’ll build the strength, you can do very closely grip triceps press.
And, make sure to arch your back, like when you do a bench press.
Smith machine exercises for shoulders
Barbell upright row
This one is called Barbell upright row and as you’ll be doing this on a smith machine it can be called smith machine upright row.
Although, very few people prefer doing it on a smith machine, but that is a great mistake. When you do this exercise on a smith machine you can concentrate all the tension on the lateral deltoids of your shoulder.
For this exercise, you don’t need a close or far grip and medium grip that suits you is fine. Actually, the grip is not as important as how you pull the bar up and how you let it down.
First of all, don’t go too heavy in the beginning. It is very easy to injure your shoulder, hence it is better to go slow while picking it up and even slower while going down.
As you are using a smith machine, after sometime you can increase the weight considerably.
And, you should remember to keep you back straight, push you chest a little forward and try to use both hands equally. Right handers tend to use their right hand more.
You can do military press in two ways, either sitting or standing. I don’t think people with even small height can do standing military press on a smith machine, and hence, we will only talk about “seated military press.”
With seated you can do two type of military press, one will be targeting your front delts and the other will be targeting your rear delts.
As you can see in the picture, while coming down, you are bring the barbell in front of you, so it will target your front delts.
The grip should be very wide, wider than your shoulder width. While going down, don’t have to go too low, in fact it can cause injury.
And, when instead taking the barbell in front your your neck, you take behind the neck, it targets both rear and mid deltoids.
Most of people have very weak and un-developed rear delts, so it is better to use very light weights.
Smith machine exercises for back
You can train your lower back using a smith machine. I know you might not have seen anyone do dead lift of a machine, but that doesn’t mean it is not effective.
Although, you won’t be able to go all the way down, but it is still very helpful. If you are a beginner, then you should certainly train a few days on a smith machine before using a barbell.
And, secondly, it is not necessary to go all the way down, you’ll often see people go down to a few inches above the ground and coming back up.
Frankly, the remaining last inches will work on your legs and less on your your back. Or as you can see in the above picture, you can use an aerobic step that you can easily find in the gym.
Bent over barbell row
It is one of the best smith machine exercises. Bent over barbell row is a staple exercise for your upper back. And, it hits your middle back too. The big mistake that people make is that they look down while doing it.
You should always look straight and stick your chest out. You need to squeeze your shoulder blades together.
Now, lets talk about the range of motion. It is not necessary for you to go very low, keep the range of motion minimum will allow you to do more sets and to develop good back muscles you need to do more number of reps per set.
It is is important for you to train you back for both endurance and muscles building. The difference between both of these training is the number of reps per set.
For muscle building, you need to do around 8-15 reps using light to medium weight and for endurance training you need to do at least 25-30 reps, you can do a little more if you feel like.
What is the use these two training styles?
Its simple, building muscles will help you stand straight but building endurance will help you stand straight for a long time.
Smith machine exercises for your glutes
Barbell hip thrust is a very effective exercise for your glutes and you’ll see very few people doing it in the gym. Most of the men thinks that good glutes is only necessary for girls. but it is certainly not true.
In a research done on the male body parts that female think most attractive, butt was among the top three.
Anyway the golden rule of body building is that you train the entire body and not some selected muscle groups.
Hip thrust is not a very complicated exercise, but you still will need someone in the beginning to keep a check on your form.
It is a good idea to practise hip thrust without any weights at all, so that you get an idea of the form and the range of motion. Like many other exercise you have to concentrate on squeezing at the top.
You can use smith machine for squats also. And, when you squat you are training your legs, your glutes and your back. But, the position of the legs is a little different when it comes to a smith machine.
First of all, your legs should be a little ahead of the bar and secondly as the bar and you can put your weight behind on the barbell and concentrate all your energy on your legs.
The most common mistake that people make is going too low. First of all, it is not adding to the benefits very much, plus it makes it very difficult to come up.
Make sure to keep your toes pointing outwards.
You can do squats for both back and legs. Although, people find it hard to differentiate, but I’ll give you one simple tips to segregate what is what.
While going down, if your knees are crossing your toes then you are working on the legs and if you keep your knees restricted behind the toes, then you are working on the back.
The distance between the the feet also matters: less for back and more for legs.
If you haven’t done shrugs on a smith machine then you should start right now. The benefit of smith machine is that you can lift much more weight that your won’t do with free barbells.
Double or triple more.
And, as all you have to do is pull the bar up and slowly let it down, so its complication won’t give you a problem.
Now, how should you grip it?
First of all, the grip should be a little wider than your shoulder width and you need mixed grip for doing this. One hand supinated and one hand pronated.
This will help you lift more and channel all the focus on the traps. Make sure to use heavy weights.
When you are using heavy weight you don’t have to focus too much providing tension to the intended muscles as the weight will itself do the job for you.
All you have to do is pull up–which you can do in a fast manner but when coming down go as slow as you can.
Smith machine exercise for Forearms
The use of forearms muscles is to “grip.” So, if you want to build forearms muscles all you need to do is hold things. Now, over the period of time your forearm has become use to of picking up heavy objects.
In order to develop it you have to put it in a state of shock and you can do this by holding extremely heavy weights.
Here smith machine can assist you in griping heavy weights for a long time. Remember, all you have to do is hold the bar with heavy weights for as long as you can. Don’t try to move it up and down.
These were some smith machine exercises you can do the next time you can hit the gym. You can invent some of your own, if you be a little creative. Don’t take it on your ego to lift only free weights. There is a difference between body building and strength training. You can build pretty nice body just by doing these smith machine exercises.