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Is there ever a context in which Smith machine is a good option?

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  • Is there ever a context in which Smith machine is a good option?

    BBM has dismantled a lot of narratives I used to have about training. One of them is about equipment. I was indoctrinated in the school of thought popular among many lifters that you should only use barbell for everything and all other equipment is just inferior. BBM has crushed that narrative for me and having followed several of their templates by now I have used a lot of equipment in my gym and for other even if I don't use it, I now understand its place in general resistance training world.

    All except Smith machine. I never saw BBM program anything with it or even mention it as a possible alternative or substitute for any exercise. So is there ever a place where one would use a smith machine provided they have other equipment in the gym?

  • #2
    Not really.

    I can think of a handful of scenarios where it is probably the best option available if you don't have access to the idea scenario, but I don't think its ever optimal. Examples of where it might be the best option available

    1. You want to use forced reps for a set but you don't have a spotter

    2. You are at a Planet Fitness and they don't have barbells and the heaviest dumbbells are only 50 pounds.

    3. You want to add a new movement to your routine but your balance is so bad you cannot really load (e.g. Bulgarian split squat).

    4. You are old and have bad balance.

    5. You already squatted but you want more volume in without hitting the central nervous system as hard. (same reason the leg press is used)

    In all those circumstances a smith machine might be your best option, but if the first scenario the idea scenario would be to use a barbell and just have a spotter. In the second scenario, you find a better gym. In third scenario you practice the movement until you have the technique down to do it loaded.

    You can certainly get stronger with a Smith machine, I just have a tough time seeing it being as good or a better option than barbell training.
    Last edited by philibusters; 06-07-2019, 12:24 PM.


    • #3
      Mike Israetel uses feet forward Smith squats for a quad development assistance. As a variation to keep from getting bored. He does them full ROM and very strict, so I guess if you're a bodybuilder they have their use.


      • #4
        I've been experimenting with 1-leg Romanian deadlifts lately, balance is a challenge. I bet they'd be good on a Smith machine.

        Calf work probably.

        I can imagine using a Smith machine for high-rep "feel the burn" hypertrophy work (squats, presses, etc) at the end of a workout after doing barbell exercises, if you are into that. Going to complete failure with light weight is a situation where you might want the bar on rails as your coordination gets shaky.