Squats with Smith machine, are they really that crappy? Of course NOT! In fact, Smith machine squat can be a great exercise to incorporate to your workout routine. You only need to know how to execute the exercise properly. Honestly, squat is a no joke exercise, which shouldn’t be taken lightly. Therefore, to avoid possible injuries, do your smith machine squat with caution. If you are planning to try out this exercise, (especially front squats) read on and make an informed decision.
Here’s How to Squat on Smith Machine
Normal squats are not technical as you think. Most people acknowledge it as a simple exercise for adding strength and building a great physique. Performing smith machine squat with proper techniques is highly advised. This way, the knee and lower back injuries can be avoided. But how do you properly squat on the smith machine? Here is how.
- First, set the bar at a height matching your body structure (shoulder height is ok)
- With your feet shoulder-width a part, rest the bar on your rear shoulder and the lower trapezius.
- Hold the bar (preferably using a wide grip) and remove the weights from the rack by lifting them up.
- With a straight back and your head-up, start squatting towards the floor by bending the knee. The knee should be at least close to a 90-degree angle
- Inhale and exhale as you do the movements
- Repeat until you complete the desired number of reps.
Smith Machine Squat Tips
For better results and safety purposes, you have to exercise cautiously. Plus, you need to be smarter and consider the tips below.
- If you are a beginner or unable to lift heavy weights, use lighter weights. Lighter weights will help you gradually build your strength and master the movements.
- Never forget your form. Always maintain a proper form if you want the exercise to be effective.
- Keep your back straight and your feet flat on the ground as you lift the bar.
- As you lift, distribute the weight to your knee and lower back
- Finally, before working into a gym and doing the squats, consult your personal trainer. Inquire if your body is fit enough to do the smith machine squat.
The 3 Positions determining Effectiveness of Smith Machine squats
To maintain a proper form throughout the exercise, you need to position your body correctly. Besides getting the most out of your workout, you will be activating the right muscles. When doing smith machine squat, your feet position matters.
If you place your feet directly under the smith machine bar, the quads will get more focus. The hams and glutes, on the other hand, will receive less activation. In short, choosing this position will mean less emphasis on the hams and glutes, and more concentration on the quads.
When your feet are 12 inches in front of the bar, the three muscles are recruited. Ham, quads, and glutes are fairly emphasized. Therefore, this position evenly distributes the focus although on a moderate level. Fairly is better than no emphasize at all!
Positioning your feet 18 inches in front of the bar is a way of recruiting hams and glutes. To be precise, hams and glutes get the most focus while quads get less focus. What does this mean? The more you move away from the bar the lesser your quads get activated.
Bottom line, you need to choose the correct position to focus the right muscles. If you intend to activate your glutes and hams more, place your feet 18 inches in front of the bar. To recruit the quads, the best position is near the bar. At the end of the day, the choice is yours to make.
Reasons why Smith Machine is a Great Tool for Squats
When most people hear of squats, they immediately think of free weight and not a smith machine. A good percentage believes that a smith machine is horrific. But here is the thing; no machine is bad or perfect.
The key to a great exercise is following the proper exercise format. Don’t entirely blame a machine for injuries; blame the improper techniques, lack of experience and overtraining. Here is why Smith machine squats are worth a try.
- Smith machine is a no spotter tool. It allows you to do your squats without a spotter.
- It’s a great tool for beginners. If you are planning to squat you can start with a smith machine. It gives you a chance to lift more weight, which translates to stronger muscles.
- Even though it locks you to one movement, you tend to use less core muscles when stabilizing. With normal squats on a barbell, the core is used more compared to squats on a smith machine.
- With a Smith machine, you can do more reps compared to barbells. It shifts the pressure from back muscles, allowing you to do more reps with more weights.
Is Smith Machine Front Squat Worth Trying?
If you can’t do normal smith machine squats, then try front squat with the smith machine. The front squat is linked to minimal strains and discomfort. Also, it’s the best squat variation, to begin with since it’s easier on the back. To perform the front squat smith exercise, do the following.
- First, rest the weight on your collar bone with your shoulder underneath the smith machine bar.
- Hold the bar firmly while your arms are crossed and un-rack the weights.
- Slowly bring your body down to the floor and hold the bar for a moment.
- Ensure your thighs are parallel to the ground.
- Then, return to the initial position and repeat the process for a desired number of reps.
Extra Tips: Maintain a straight posture and a high elbow to prevent the bar from rolling or sliding. If you can use across arm drip, do so. It will help you keep your torso still. Don’t either elevate your heels or allow your feet go past your hips during the entire routine. And most importantly, don’t push your knees too much to avoid injuries.
Reasons to give it a Try
Smith Machine front squat is absolutely worth a chance. Whatever your workout goal is, you can still achieve through a smith machine. Even if not all the goals will be fulfilled, at least you would attain most. According to research, the front squat is more advantageous than the back squat. So, if you choose to do the front squat, be assured of the following
- Isolating your quads more. The front squat is an effective exercise for isolating the quads. In the long run, you not only work on the quads but also gain strength.
- Fewer cases of pain or injuries. This squat variation is great for workout lovers who are unfortunately still nursing their pains.
- As mentioned above, the exercise doesn’t strain the lower back and causes less discomfort.
Which is better for Squats? Smith Machine vs Squat Rack.
At a glance, they may look similar, but on a closer look, they are extremely different. Both tools can be used for squats, shoulder press, and bench press. Actually, they are both great tools for doing squat exercises.
The Squat Rack
What is a squat rack and how is it important? Basically, it is a piece of fitness equipment used to perform different exercises. The squat rack has adjustable pins to hold the bar. It outshines the smith machine since squats movements are not limited to a vertical path. Therefore, this means more muscles are engaged.
Just like a smith machine if used incorrectly, it can cause pain around the knee and the lower back. But, if the right techniques are applied, it can be a wonderful tool for doing squats.
There are different types of squat racks.
- Squat stand. This is a squat rack with two separate free stands having adjustable heights.
- Squat rack cage. Even though it’s very heavy, it has adequate safety features
- Standard squat rack. The simplest of them all. This squat rack occupies less space.
Benefits of Squat Rack
Opting for a squat rack is never a terrible decision. Some people adore it since it’s adjustable and allows a natural movement. Besides the fact that it can be used to do compound exercises it is;
- Very Efficient. Aside from activating the quads, it also targets various muscles groups in the body. It also adds strength and works on different body parts such as calves.
- Adds Core Strength. With a Squat rack, you get to activate the core more and work on the lower back at the same time. In the end, your core strength is improved, which translates to heavy weight lifting.
If you don’t want restrictive movements, squat with a squat rack. To gain big quads ASAP! A Smith machine squat is the best exercise. For those who will stick to a squat rack, don’t make the following mistakes.
- Rounding the back (specifically the lower back). Rounding the lower back is a gateway to injury and poor workout performance.
- Neglecting the core. An effective exercise targets the core, so if you fail to activate the core you’re doing it all wrong.
- Placing the bar too high. Although bar height is determined by your personal body structure, you don’t need to go extremely high. Your neck will strain a lot if you place the bar too high.
- Exercising with poor ankle mobility. How do you expect to do an effective squat exercise if your ankle is not flexible? Lack of mobility around the ankle disengages the glutes and quads.
7 Ways to Better Your Squats (With or Without a Smith Machine)
Smith machine can be the real deal for attaining bigger and stronger quads. But first, you need to perfect your moves. How? Knowing what to do, when to do and how to do is the key. Thus, you can improve your squats daily if you consider the tips below.
- Squat Regularly
Practice your squats more often to harden your muscles and add strength. The more you practice the more you perfect your core. Simply, add the number of days you squat in a week. Increasing the number of sets is also a good idea.
- Use heavy Weights
If your body is fit enough to lift heavy weights, then do so. You can consult your personal trainer to find out if you are capable. If your body can’t withstand heavy weights, just maintain the lighter weights to avoid injuries.
- Monitor Your Breathing Pattern
Make sure you are breathing correctly throughout the exercise. As you lower your body inhale and exhale when returning to the starting point. The right breathing pattern increases stability during the exercise.
- Squeeze the bar
Squeezing the bar when squatting will help you distribute the weight evenly. Besides having a good posture, you will be able to avoid injuries. Also, squeezing the bar is a way to tighten the lats and prevent the bar from sliding.
- Work on Your Lower Body Flexibility
Lack of mobility can deter you from completing your sets. If your lower body is not flexible enough, you may end up ditching the squats. But there is no need to do that. Simply work on your lower back before squatting on a smith machine or a squat rack.
- Choose the Right Height to Rack the Bar
Don’t place your bar too high or too low. Doing this is a direct way of straining your body. Instead of going too high or low, choose a shoulder-high height. If you can’t work with this height, slightly lower the bar, just not too low.
- Use appropriate Shoes.
As odd as it may sound, you need to put on the right shoes. The reason for wearing appropriate shoes is to keep a good balance and maintain stability. Therefore, don’t put on footwear that limits your ankle flexibility.
Bottom line, squats are effective for growing muscular quads. Smith machine squats require proper techniques to avoid injuries and ensure better results.
Have you tried squats on a smith machine before? What about on a squat rack? Between squat vs smith machine which equipment is better?