Squats, Smith or not?

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    Squats, Smith or not?


    Is there a difference at doing squats on the smith machine vs. using the free olympic bar? Id rather use the smith machine for better balance, and I saw a video of some guy who lost his balance and snapped his ankle.

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    Yes, the smith machine (1) does not conform to the natural motion of a squat which increases the risk of injury (usually knee, hip, or lower back related). (2) does not stimulate stabilizing muscles enough to build muscular strength in them.
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    I use the Smith machine as I train by myself and it's the only way to 'go heavy' and still be safe if you get stuck in the bottom position. You do have a different stance as you have to lean back into the bar rather than a vertical rep but I find that this puts pressure on different muscles especially the inner thigh.

    If you have a training partner then you can always alternate the two. I know people who use the bar, smith and hack squat machine on a 1 month cycle i.e. bar for one month, smith for one month, hack for one month and then repeat.
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    Advice I was given once...

    Women do Smith Squats

    Real Men do Barbell Squats
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    Quote Originally Posted by wrkn4bigrmusles View Post
    Advice I was given once...

    Women do Smith Squats

    Real Men do Barbell Squats
    Best advice I ever heard - when you enter the gym leave your ego at the door.

    Getting into macho competitions about lifting heavier weights than everyone else and doing particular exercises because they are done by 'real men' only leads to bad form, injuries and no gains.

    Nothing personal against wrkn4bigrmusles but you can see the guys with this type of attitude in the gym. They are nowhere near the biggest/strongest in the gym, insist on posing in front of the mirror even though they don't have big muscles, practice extremely bad form when lifting (i.e. swinging the weight when doing barbel curls and arching their back), slam the weights back onto the rack/grunt very loudly so that everyone looks at them.

    It's best to find out what works for you and rotate your training exercises/routine on a regular basis to keep your muscles guessing.
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    eh.. i vary what i do... i even use smith squats
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    Barbell squats are one of the best overall mass building exercises you can do. If you are doing them on a smith machine instead of a barbell, then it is your loss, period.

    Also, most squat racks have safety mechanisms there to protect you if you cannot push yourself back up to starting position.
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    true barbell squats are overall better than smith squats and its my loss that i dont make enough money to join a better gym that would actually have a barbell squat rack we have 2 smith racks instead which is really upsetting but i still do what i can do with but now we just got this machine in, its got this pad that goes over your shoulder and click in button you hold go down to wherever your lowest will be during squats, and then let go of the clicker and start squatting if that makes sense thats our new squat machine, cant wait to have acutally money and use a real gym again with all the good weapons!!
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    Barbell squats hands down. Your limited range of motion on the smith squat will actually increase your risk of injury and your not going to get the same out of it as you would w/ the barbell.
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    Quote Originally Posted by MMAMONSTER19 View Post
    true barbell squats are overall better than smith squats and its my loss that i dont make enough money to join a better gym that would actually have a barbell squat rack we have 2 smith racks instead which is really upsetting but i still do what i can do with but now we just got this machine in, its got this pad that goes over your shoulder and click in button you hold go down to wherever your lowest will be during squats, and then let go of the clicker and start squatting if that makes sense thats our new squat machine, cant wait to have acutally money and use a real gym again with all the good weapons!!
    That sucks that they don't have a squat rack. I guess they are better than nothing at all. Just be careful and try not to hurt yourself.
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    The smith is used only as a towel rack....not for squats. I will allow myself to do standing calf raises in a smith, standing on a step, but other than that...smith machines are not squat racks or bench presses. Let the ladies have it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by biggfly View Post
    The smith is used only as a towel rack....not for squats. I will allow myself to do standing calf raises in a smith, standing on a step, but other than that...smith machines are not squat racks or bench presses. Let the ladies have it.
    Now I have a place to hang my towel!!!
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    i really only like smith machines for front squats.. anything else feels way to un-natura; and hurts my knees/hips
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    Yeah I like to do front squats on them as well, especially when I do not have a spotter. Lately I have been using them for shoulder presses, but I am going to stop doing that as of this week.
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    So... If you have access to a barbell and squat rack, do regular full squats. Machines allow you to work against a resistance over a set range of motion (you cannot deviate from it). You don't have to balance the weight because the machine is doing that for you. The benefit to having to balance the weight is that you have to use more muscles. More muscle fiber stimulation = more muscle growth; this is why squats and deadlifts are the kings of mass builders, because performing the lifts requires so many different muscles to do work.

    The only way I'd recommend machine squats is for someone rehabing from an injury. They're not even good for preparing for barbell squats (say, if you were just starting out), because you wouldn't be strengthening the muscles you'd need for heavy barbell squats. Hit the machines when you want to do leg extensions, leg curls, cable exercises, machine barbell curls, hack squats, machine flyes, ect.. But free weights should comprise the bulk of your routine.

    A lot of people love machines because they're easier. My goal is to make my muscles work as hard as possible. Our bodies don't naturally want to grow because they don't have to. Humans were designed with the potential to increase muscle mass, but not the necessity to do so. Therefore, we have to make ourselves grow. In the gym, I compete against myself.
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    i was going to say something about rehabbing an injury, but everything i was going to say has already been said

    Quote Originally Posted by Joshua86 View Post
    So... If you have access to a barbell and squat rack, do regular full squats. Machines allow you to work against a resistance over a set range of motion (you cannot deviate from it). You don't have to balance the weight because the machine is doing that for you. The benefit to having to balance the weight is that you have to use more muscles. More muscle fiber stimulation = more muscle growth; this is why squats and deadlifts are the kings of mass builders, because performing the lifts requires so many different muscles to do work.

    The only way I'd recommend machine squats is for someone rehabing from an injury. They're not even good for preparing for barbell squats (say, if you were just starting out), because you wouldn't be strengthening the muscles you'd need for heavy barbell squats. Hit the machines when you want to do leg extensions, leg curls, cable exercises, machine barbell curls, hack squats, machine flyes, ect.. But free weights should comprise the bulk of your routine.

    A lot of people love machines because they're easier. My goal is to make my muscles work as hard as possible. Our bodies don't naturally want to grow because they don't have to. Humans were designed with the potential to increase muscle mass, but not the necessity to do so. Therefore, we have to make ourselves grow. In the gym, I compete against myself.
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    some of the worst form i've ever seen in the gym is barbell squating

    heavy, maxed out squating on a smith machine is dangerous IMHO
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigzach1234 View Post
    i really only like smith machines for front squats.. anything else feels way to un-natura; and hurts my knees/hips
    same here, front squats on a smith press are ok by me
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    i use smith for hack squats.
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    Quote Originally Posted by MMAMONSTER19 View Post
    true barbell squats are overall better than smith squats and its my loss that i dont make enough money to join a better gym that would actually have a barbell squat rack we have 2 smith racks instead which is really upsetting but i still do what i can do with but now we just got this machine in, its got this pad that goes over your shoulder and click in button you hold go down to wherever your lowest will be during squats, and then let go of the clicker and start squatting if that makes sense thats our new squat machine, cant wait to have acutally money and use a real gym again with all the good weapons!!
    That's odd, in your first sentence. The smith squat cost more than just an old squat rack and barbell??? Why would your gym invest in 2 pieces of equipment that cost more than 3 squat racks?

    BTW:
    Whoever said "keep your muscles guessing"? There is, technically, no such thing...you can put more stress on a muscle from varying the angle, but to keep them "guessing" as if your confusing the muscle? nah.

    As far as the squats go, I only do smith squats when the teenyboopers have the squat racks occupied.

    Just as a comparison for me,

    free squats 315 x 10,
    smith squats 370 x 8
    But, i get way more stimulus out of the 315 x 10 on frees.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aggravated View Post
    Yeah I like to do front squats on them as well, especially when I do not have a spotter. Lately I have been using them for shoulder presses, but I am going to stop doing that as of this week.
    anything that would be beneficial to know about the shoulder presses? I've been tinkering with them for about 3 weeks just to see what was up compared to military frees???
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    Variance is key. Universally condemning an exercise because 'Women do them', is like taking a tool out of your arsenal - not wise. I would use BB Squats in the vast majority, but Smith Squats have their use.
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    Quote Originally Posted by boggs67ss View Post
    Is there a difference at doing squats on the smith machine vs. using the free olympic bar? Id rather use the smith machine for better balance, and I saw a video of some guy who lost his balance and snapped his ankle.
    The biggest difference is because the smith machine is on a track, the balance factor is taken out of the lift and a lot of synergistic muscles use to balance while doing squats are not used. Free squats will give you the best bang for the buck.
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    Quote Originally Posted by hardknock View Post
    anything that would be beneficial to know about the shoulder presses? I've been tinkering with them for about 3 weeks just to see what was up compared to military frees???
    Not in particular no. I used to do them on the smith, because Our shoulder press rack sucks ass. Now I am forcing myself to do them. The smith machine has never really helped me add strength in my shoulders so I am switching back to the free military presses.
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