The worst exercise ever!
Every time I walk into a commercial gym, inevitably I see some poor soul squatting on the Smith machine. Not only is this a horrible exercise, it also is dangerous and will eventually lead to injury. Ironically, people believe the Smith machine is safe, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
So, what is wrong with squatting on the Smith machine? The machine locks you in a fixed plane of motion and has several safety stops so you can “rack” (I use this term loosely) the weight. The fixed plane and ability to immediately rack the weight is why people believe it is safer to use than good old fashioned squats. However, this fixed axis is the problem. Lifting in a fixed plane of motion will lead to muscle imbalances and eventually injury. This fixed plane gives the lifter a false sense of security and allows them to pile on an obscene amount of weight, giving them a huge ego boost.
The majority of these Smith machine squatters can’t perform simple bodyweight squats with correct form. Why? Because their body is so out of whack that they lack the necessary strength, stability and mobility to execute a proper bodyweight squat. You see, the human body is an extremely fluid, organic mechanism. Movements almost never utilize the same muscles or observe exactly the same patterns. The reason squats are considered one of the best weight training exercises is because of their complex and diverse use of various muscles. By squatting in the Smith machine, we stop using essential muscles used in everyday life. This lack of use is exactly what leads to injury – either due to inactivity or trying to perform a movement that the body is not prepared for.
Alternatives to the Smith Machine
Now I understand that some in the general fitness population do not want to barbell squat, and that is perfectly fine. There are many variations of the squat, as well as various implements you can use to build an effective squat. One of my favorites are goblet squats. They are one of the safest ways you can do loaded squats. It’s easy on the joints but an absolute killer on the glutes and the core. Next time you are in the gym give it a try. But whatever you decide, please stop squatting on the Smith machine. Your body will thank you for it.
Smith Machine=Injury Maker