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How These Smith Machine Exercises Work For Huge Gains

smith machine exercises

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Some have a love-hate relationship with it, but these smith machine exercises are great for gains.

For those of us who lift, we may look at smith machine exercises and scoff. The smith machine does have that reputation for not being a “real” lift, or that somehow using this machine is just a cheat. So, we continue to lift that bar freely as we pack on the weight and totally neglect the potential of another group of exercises that can help our gains. While you may have different opinions of what the smith machine can or cannot do, just hear us out, for we have an argument to be made for why you should use it.

Smith machine exercises are essentially the same exercises that you would perform on the free weights, just with the assistance of this machine. But in reality, you are lifting the same amount of weight, albeit with some of that assistance. Your muscles still get work done and you can target specific groups to start to challenge yourself and your goals. To help change your mind, think of the smith machine as just another training tool. You won’t be competing with it, just boosting your gains so you start to see that desired physique you want most.

Let’s look into some awesome smith machine exercises to boost your workouts to new heights. While many of these will be familiar to you, putting them into the format of the smith machine will allow for some real growth and a chance to propel your progress.

smith machine exercises

What Is The Smith Machine?

The smith machine is a piece of weight training equipment that is fixed within a steel rail system. This fixed track allows for resistance while still operating in similar fashion to the free weight rack. By using this machine, you start to eliminate a lot of the load off your muscles and the movement tends to be more smooth since you are running on a fixed point (1). Some say this is cheating because you can really pack the weight on and potentially lift more than you would with a traditional free weight exercise. Regardless, it is a great training machine to boost your gains.

Pros & Cons of Using It

The smith machine has some pros and cons that are good to consider before jumping right into this. What the smith machine does well is it will help with balance and stability while enhancing safety since it is on a fixed track. You can lift more as well increasing muscle growth for that increased strength and size. Looking at the downsides of the smith machine, the movement of the bar is only up and down on a straight line. Naturally, your body doesn’t lift like this so it can be an unusual movement without targeting your stabilizer muscles, which are vital to grow for better support and functional movements (2). Like anything, the smith machine has its pros and cons but ones worth looking into.

smith machine exercises

Great Smith Machine Exercises For Boosting Gains

Back Squat

A typically sensitive movement since you are under so much weight, really nailing down form with this is key because you want to stay away from injury and only boost those lower body gains. One tip is to have your feet slightly in front of the bar instead of directly under like a traditional free weight back squat.

Bent Over Row

This is an awesome back exercise and to really widen out those lats. With the smith machine, it takes out the need for those stabilizer muscles and is a good one for isolating the lats and other muscle groups associated with the lift. Help tackle your posture needs with this as well.

Split Squats

Great for working one leg at a time, using the smith machine can work for better balance so you can focus on working those muscles more without wasting concentration on stability. These can be done flat on the floor or with the back foot elevated.

Bench Press

This is perfect to use for those seeking to build muscle. It allows for heavier weight and you will be able to pump out a few more reps given its fixed stability. This is a great training exercise for that muscle growth.


We all know shrugs can work to give your traps some nice strength and size and the smith machine allows us to focus on range of motion to really target the upper traps. The nice part is you can do shrugs either with the bar in front of you or behind you.

Featured Supplement To Enhance These Gains

When it comes to lifting big and fueling our bodies after these smith machine workouts, it’s important to realize that having a top supplementation routine can boost all areas of our gains. A protein powder is absolutely vital for enhancing growth and recovery (3) and while there are many options in supplements like pre-workouts, BCAAs, and even something like a testosterone booster or fat burner, you can’t go wrong with a high-quality protein supplement for all of your lifting needs.

Performance Lab SPORT Protein

Performance Lab SPORT Protein

Performance Lab SPORT Protein uses Oryzatein® in their protein powder, which provides for awesome benefits out of a clean brown rice protein. This protein is much cleaner than other protein powders and is naturally flavored with organic cocoa, vanilla bean, and ceylon cinnamon for an amazing tasting supplement. Being a brown-rice protein powder, anyone can use it for growth and weight loss for this powder contains great ingredients and offers a non-dairy, plant-based approach to a protein supplement without sacrificing any gains. With no allergens and being vegan-friendly, this protein will give you 20g protein and only 100 calories making this a great option for both cutting and bulking.

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Check out our list of the Best Protein Powders for more awesome protein supplements!

Wrap Up

Smith machine exercises and the many benefits associated with them are great for all of your gains. By working on stability and really targeting muscles differently, you get the most out of each of these exercises to boost your gains. Don’t let the stigma of the smith machine hurt any chance at serious gains and work to give yourself the best chance at growth.

Let us know what you think in the comments below. Also, be sure to follow Generation Iron on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. 

*Images courtesy of Envato


  1. Saeterbakken, Atle H.; van den Tillaar, Roland; Fimland, Marius S. (2011). “A comparison of muscle activity and 1-RM strength of three chest-press exercises with different stability requirements”. (source)
  2. Schick, Evan E.; Coburn, Jared W.; Brown, Lee E.; Judelson, Daniel A.; et al. (2010). “A Comparison of Muscle Activation Between a Smith Machine and Free Weight Bench Press”. (source)
  3. Pasiakos, Stefan M.; Lieberman, Harris R.; McLellan, Tom M. (2014). “Effects of protein supplements on muscle damage, soreness and recovery of muscle function and physical performance: a systematic review”. (source)

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