Smith Machine Squats? Good/Bad?

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    Smith Machine Squats? Good/Bad?


    What is your guys take on smith machine squats? I understand that there is nothing like using free weights but the squat rack/set up at my gym is bad! I have a hard time doing regular squats at my gym because the floor isnt solid its that soft rubber flooring which makes it very hard to balance heavy weights, also there is no spotters on the rack. Because It felt dangerous to do squats on this floor I am now doing them on the smith machine, which i must say allows me to go down much lower with near perfect form. Any takes on this??

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    I enjoy them. I do not think they work the same amount of muscle groups that free squats do but i feel they work the quads and glutes just as good if not better since I can focus more closely on my legs. Just depends if you set yourself up correctly. I see too many put their feet too far out, puts more stress on lower back and removes it from quads.

    Front squats are better on the smith IMO.
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    I do not advocate smith squats because they force your body into an unnatural position. I knew a guy who basically shear his patella tendon doing these. The smith machine inherently dictates that your feet be placed farther out than your knees due to the fixed path the machine is on. Not only is this bad for your knees but your lower back as well. I had sciatic nerve problems from smith machine squats about 10 years ago. I couldn't do legs for 9 months...that sucked!


    All this being said, I've seen pro bodybuilders do them but with diminshed weight and they went lower instead of just breaking parallel. Ronnie Coleman for example loads about 3 plates on the smith and does reps that touch his glutes to his achilles tendon.

    I personally think the smith machine is the devil =) Free weights provide the only stimuli you need for inducing hypertrophy. Machines (in my opinion) were made to make exercises easier. It's not called "working out" because its easy right?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thixotrope View Post
    ...The smith machine inherently dictates that your feet be placed farther out than your knees due to the fixed path the machine is on.
    The smith machines I have used never made any such mandate. You position your feet. Just make sure that in squatted position the bar is in line over your quads. Try drop setting squats on the smith and then tell me machines do not stimulate muscle growth.
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    Quote Originally Posted by jonny21 View Post
    The smith machines I have used never made any such mandate. You position your feet. Just make sure that in squatted position the bar is in line over your quads. Try drop setting squats on the smith and then tell me machines do not stimulate muscle growth.
    True, you do position your own feet but the unnatural descent caused by the fixed plane of the machine was what I am placing emphasis on. It is not a NATURAL movement. Natural biomechanics would suggest that since the machine is in a fixed location the feet would need to compensate for that in their positioning.

    Put the back of your ankles against the wall and try touching your toes without bending your knees. This is analagous to the smith machine squat. It forces your body to do something it wasn't intended to do and not in a good way.

    There is a natural curve associated with the descent of the bar in a back squat and the smith machine doesn't take that into consideration. It is not safe for back or knees period.

    I will not argue the fact that they build muscle because the potential is there but why half ass it? Just go ahead and do a free weight squat which utilizes so many more stabilizers and auxiliary muscles and to a greater degree.

    Most people don't or won't because its too much work. I've never seen a powerliting competition that used a smith machine for squatting before either.

    I'm not trying to be a know-it-all or anything like that but I am saying all of this out of personal experience and what I know from basic kinesiology. If I ruled the world I would dismantle all smith machines because *I believe* they're unsafe LOL.

    :squat:
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    it's going to be hard to justify good vs. bad as I think it's a matter of preference and what works best for the individual ... for me, I stay away from the smith for squats, but I see lots of people w/ big wheels in there ... based on what you posted regarding not having spotters on the rack and the soft flooring I think you've already answered your question
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    You must work with what you can. If the atmosphere isn't safe for using free weights while squatting and you have no spotters, then I'd go with the smith machine.
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    Quote Originally Posted by teribleturtle View Post
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    I have a free moving smith machine at my gym, bar is on tracks so it moves freely forward and reverse. This is what I use normally for squats, works pretty well. Definately feel it more in the core with free weights though. I should probably switch, I need to work my core a lot more.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thixotrope View Post
    True, you do position your own feet but the unnatural descent caused by the fixed plane of the machine was what I am placing emphasis on. It is not a NATURAL movement. Natural biomechanics would suggest that since the machine is in a fixed location the feet would need to compensate for that in their positioning.

    Put the back of your ankles against the wall and try touching your toes without bending your knees. This is analagous to the smith machine squat. It forces your body to do something it wasn't intended to do and not in a good way.

    There is a natural curve associated with the descent of the bar in a back squat and the smith machine doesn't take that into consideration. It is not safe for back or knees period.

    I will not argue the fact that they build muscle because the potential is there but why half ass it? Just go ahead and do a free weight squat which utilizes so many more stabilizers and auxiliary muscles and to a greater degree.

    Most people don't or won't because its too much work. I've never seen a powerliting competition that used a smith machine for squatting before either.

    I'm not trying to be a know-it-all or anything like that but I am saying all of this out of personal experience and what I know from basic kinesiology. If I ruled the world I would dismantle all smith machines because *I believe* they're unsafe LOL.

    :squat:
    I would love to do free weight squats its what I used to do at my old gym where there were stations ( Racks w/spotters, on solid flooring) specifically made for squats. Because this is not the case at my current gym I thought that Smith Machine squats would be the next best thing. After a hard session I am just as sore off the smith machine squats as I was on the free squats, so I am assuming that I must be doing something right.
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    bad for your knees and not as effective as real squats.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thixotrope View Post
    I do not advocate smith squats because they force your body into an unnatural position. I knew a guy who basically shear his patella tendon doing these. The smith machine inherently dictates that your feet be placed farther out than your knees due to the fixed path the machine is on. Not only is this bad for your knees but your lower back as well. I had sciatic nerve problems from smith machine squats about 10 years ago. I couldn't do legs for 9 months...that sucked!


    All this being said, I've seen pro bodybuilders do them but with diminshed weight and they went lower instead of just breaking parallel. Ronnie Coleman for example loads about 3 plates on the smith and does reps that touch his glutes to his achilles tendon.

    I personally think the smith machine is the devil =) Free weights provide the only stimuli you need for inducing hypertrophy. Machines (in my opinion) were made to make exercises easier. It's not called "working out" because its easy right?
    Couldn't agree more, only squatting i'd do in a smith machine is front squats.
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    they arent bad, but they do take away from the use of stabilizer muscles which can carry over to other lifts.

    i personally used smith till i had access to a squat rack, my legs got much bigger still.

    but i love doing free weight squats, feels more .... free (for the lack of a better term, freedom of range of motion? since smith machine you can only go up and down straight)
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