Hate is a strong word. I typically don’t use it for people, as it usually doesn’t apply. The definition of “hate”, according to Webster is:
Hate – “feel intense or passionate dislike”.
Synonyms = “loathe, abomination, detestation, aversion, contempt, disgust, abhorrence”.
These are all things that come to mind when i picture “The Smith Machine”. It is my nemesis. For those that don’t know which piece of equipment i’m referring to, see the inserted pic.
Now, in this post, I am not referring to the many other isolated muscle exercises you could use the Smith Machine for, such as calf raises, triceps, etc. If you have a major injury that you’re recovering from or some kind of rare restriction, I am not speaking to you. I am strictly discussing this in terms of the squat, which is its main function. The problem with the Smith Machine is that it does not require you to find your own balance within your body and utilize the stabilizing muscles that are so crucial for proper movement. You’re only involving the big prime mover muscles (the main muscles involved – glutes, quads, hamstrings) and not even teaching them how to properly function together in a decent squat.
Just because there is a barbell involved does not make this a free weight exercise. A squatting movement is rather complex, especially considering the variations that are available. Even though the bar does not look as though it moves anywhere except up and down, all the joints are revolving and this simple movement is not so simple. The Smith Machine locks the body into a very unnatural movement pattern which has the potential to stress inappropriate structures and not train the body in various planes (transverse, sagittal, frontal). It only uses one plane of movement, since the bar is locked into place. This is a great setup to develop muscle imbalances.
For those looking to enhance their fitness, master squats, develop strong legs and glutes, produce proper movement patterns, go to the power rack and do some real squats. Don’t go until failure, and don’t go for a 1 rep max until you’re comfortable. If you’re unfamiliar with proper squatting, please seek help from a righteous squat guru, such as myself 🙂 If you use a Smith Machine you’re just giving yourself a cheap excuse not to do a demanding exercise.