Are You Sleeping on the Smith Machine?
Tim's Tips are written by Tim Rigby, M.A., NSCA-CPT

Just a few decades ago, you’d often see guys in line for the Smith Machine at the gym.  Nowadays, it seems to just sit there and gather dust.  This is a shame, since it’s a very useful and versatile apparatus for both strength and muscle building.  It can be applied to train both upper body and lower body muscle groups, and perhaps the greatest highlight of all is that it allows you to perform overload weights (more than what you can lift with free weights) even without the help of a spotter.

Among the most common applications of the Smith Machine are the bench press, where you roll a portable bench underneath the bar.  The squat can also be performed in the Smith Machine with great facility, for you simply set the bar to the proper level of height in the same way you would in a power rack.  Even the deadlift can be performed in a Smith Machine (although in its initial position the bar will begin slightly above the floor).

Other exercises you can perform in the Smith Machine include the upright row, barbell curl, barbell shrug and overhead press.  To make use of the machine, simply rotate the bar to unrack it, perform a set, then rotate the bar in the opposite direction to rack it again.  Strength athletes love the Smith Machine since it allows for overloads (10 to 20 percent at most is safest).  Simply perform the lift as best you can and rack it after failing at whatever level you’re stuck.  This is an exceptional tool for helping you blast through sticking points and increase your one-rep maximum (1RM) weight!


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