How To Do A Smith Machine Squat: Benefits, Debate, And Correct Form

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The Smith squat is without a doubt one of the most contentious Smith machine leg workouts a lifter can perform. In some gyms, it has a stigma that is even worse than the combined effects of sweating on the equipment and curling in the squat rack.

You still shouldn’t do that, though, because of that. It continues to be one of the best Smith machine exercises available.

Smith Machine

In fact, when performed correctly, a Smith machine squat will give your quadriceps and glutes a considerable muscle boost. Additionally, in some circumstances—particularly if muscular building is your main objective—you’ll see benefits more quickly than with the barbell version.

How to do Squats on a Smith machine

Setup the Smith Machine

Before you begin squatting, you will choose to be certain that the Smith laptop is ready. This starts with the bar.

Your Smith Machine bar ought to be stage with shoulders, no longer your neck. The high-quality function would be for your barbell to be placed on your higher traps and rear delt when standing. So, it’s going to have to be set a little decrease than that. That way you can raise it except wanting to come up on your tip toes.

You’ll additionally want to be positive that the security bar is set at knee level. The protection trap being at this degree offers you sufficient room to work with and stay safe.

After that, you can load the bar with plates. But again, begin light.

Starting Position

Get underneath the bar. The bar have to be resting on your traps and rear delts, now not your neck.

Position your palms at about shoulder width on the bar. You can alter a little to discover what’s comfy for you.

Now, step your toes ahead a little (approximately 3-6 inches ahead from a everyday squat stance). Your ft will be out in the front of your knees with your legs straight. However, you can regulate this a little to locate what role is nice for you.

Remember, begin with an empty bar to discover your foot placement. The aim is to maintain your knees in the back of your toes when squatting and your lower back extra upright (no rounding of the low back). Your knees and toes will be simply about aligned at the backside of the squat.

As with a ordinary squat, your ft can be hip to shoulder width apart, and your toes can be straight ahead or barely pointed outward. Having your toes flared out may additionally provide you a higher vary of motion.

The fantastic stance is the one that is comfy for you and that you can sense your quads truly working. Everyone is constructed a little different.

Your elbows have to be aligned with your torso, however pointed returned a bit.

Now, unhooking the bar will require you to carry up a little and rotate your wrists back. Make certain the hooks are out of the way (they will continue to be unhooked so lengthy as you do not rotate your wrists forward).

Once the bar is unhooked, it is time to inhale and descend.

Read More About Smith Machine:

The Descent

As you descend, you may choose to push your hips returned a little as you operate knee flexion (bend at the knees).

Keep your chest up, shoulder blades retracted, and your head going through forward. This will make sure protection of your spine.

As for how low you have to go, ideally you desire to have your butt about in line with your calves at the bottom, so a little previous parallel. This will provide you fantastic stretching anxiety in your quads (and glutes), which is an quintessential thing of constructing muscle and strength.

The solely exception is if you lack the mobility, in which case, go as low as you can and work on hip and ankle mobility in the meantime.

There is a pleased medium between to little vary of action and too much, so do not go TOO low. Again, a little previous parallel is ideal, however parallel (thighs parallel with the floor) is additionally fine.

Your knees must be about in line with your toes.

Feet flat on the ground.

No arch in your back.

The Ascent

Exhale and power up from the heels of your feet.

Do now not neglect to preserve your backbone straight, your elbows pointed, and your core engaged at some stage in this.

At the top, your hips will come to neutral, however your knees will now not thoroughly lock out. Meaning, maintain a mild bend in your knee when standing.

Then, repeat.

Best Rep Range:

Depending on your goal, you may additionally choose to center of attention on strength, hypertrophy or endurance.

Strength: 3-8 reps

Hypertrophy: 6-12 reps

Endurance: 12-15+ reps

Reps suggest nothing except consideration for load. But alternatively than inform you a p.c of your 1 rep max, we will simply say that the load need to venture you in the given rep range. Meaning you are coming shut to failure (i.e. 1-3 reps left in the tank).

Smith machine squat mistakes

Shortcutting the vary of motion

Doing a Smith laptop 1/2 squat with all the weight plates in the gymnasium may nicely provide you a brief ego boost, however it may not do lots for your legs. In fact, lookup indicates that deep squatting, the place your hips ruin parallel, leads to 7% greater muscle boom in simply 12 weeks.

Better still, squatting deeply is no worse for your knees than squatting to parallel or above.

But do you be aware of what is horrific for your knees?

Allowing too an awful lot ahead knee travel

Some ahead knee journey is inevitable at some stage in any quad-focused Smith desktop returned squat. However, do not take it to the extreme. Forcing your knees over your toes in an strive to eke out extra vary of action or quad stimulation is suicide for your lengthy time period knee fitness.

Instead, amplify the vary of action at your hips with the aid of taking a step away from the Smith desktop and solely permitting a average quantity of ahead knee travel. You’ll be tons better this way, and your knees will thank you for it.

Rounding your decrease back

If I had a pound for each time I noticed anybody squatting with a rounded back; I’d be sipping protein shakes underneath a Thai palm tree after my every day seashore workout.

When you are the usage of the Smith laptop for squats, rounding your again is just about the worst mistake that you can make. Not solely does it take truly all the anxiety off your quads, however it turns your squat into a bizarre kind of correct morning that cripples your backbone in the process.

That said, some “butt wink” is fine, specially if you squat deep. Butt wink (in case you do not know) is in reality when your pelvis tilts forwards (and for that reason makes your decrease returned spherical slightly) at the backside of a squat. It’s herbal and innocent in accordance to most health professionals.

Despite there being greater squat approach courses and movies than ever before, the knee valgus epidemic is spreading like wildfire.

And by way of knee valgus, I imply internally circled knees. It’s a frequent aspect impact of squatting in Smith laptop structures with too a great deal weight. Your knees can not manage the stress, and so they actually buckle underneath the stress and cave in like a roof constructed from Lego bricks.

The quit end result is not pretty. Best case situation you have knee pain, worst case state of affairs you want a knee substitute (I’m now not joking).

Thankfully, by using opening up your hips and flaring your ft out round 15-30 degrees, you can sidestep this problem for the most part. Just make positive to put on some knee sleeves if you are going to do Smith computer again squats regularly, due to the fact they add a lot of steadiness to your patella.

What muscles do smith machine squats work?

Smith machines work the equal muscle mass as barbell squats, simply the emphasis is different.

The fundamental movers are your:

  • Quadriceps (front thighs)
  • Gluteus Maximus (and gluteus medius and minimus)
  • Hip Adductors (Inside of your thighs)
  • Lower lower back muscle tissues (lumbar region)
  • We bolded the quads due to the fact they are the principal muscle team focused with a smith squat.

smith computing device squats muscle groups worked

Smith machines are compound movements, so helping muscle tissue are additionally in use:

  • Hamstrings
  • Spinal erectors
  • Hamstrings
  • Calves
  • Abs

HOWEVER, the stabilizer muscles, such as your abs and calves are working to a an awful lot lesser diploma than with free weight barbell squats due to the bar being fixed. Essentially, you do not want to fear about stability and stabilizing the bar, so your helping muscle groups are now not almost as activated.

This learn about exhibit that the stabilizing muscle groups are around 43% much less engaged with Smith desktop squats in contrast to free weight barbell squats.

Basically, the smith computing device squat actually hones in on the principal movers (quads, and glutes to a degree).

There are versions of smith squats that you can do to alter the muscle groups emphasized. We will exhibit you a number of accurate versions of squats for a smith desktop and what muscle groups are emphasised later on in this article. For the preferred smith squat, it is your quadriceps that are most targeted.

Read More: How Much Does A Smith Machine Bar Weigh

Here is how Smith machines goal these muscle groups:


Your quadricep muscle crew is made up of 4 muscles: rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, and vastus intermedius. The Smith squat will goal the complete muscle group.

With your ft being ahead on a smith squat, your quads will be extra activated than with a free weight barbell squat, which greater evenly spreads the work throughout your legs (which is why it is a extra whole energy exercise).

Your quads will additionally be greater activated with a narrower stance. That does not suggest you have to go awesome narrow, however if you observe your quads are not being activated well, it is in all likelihood due to the fact your ft are too a long way apart, inflicting the motion to be greater abductor.

Also, the deeper you go, the extra your quads will be stretched. Stretching anxiety is integral for hypertrophy.


The wider your stance, the greater your hip abductors will work, which consists of your glutes.

However, with a everyday stance, your glutes are nonetheless activated pretty well, particularly if you have a full vary of motion.

Hip Adductors

The hip adductors are going to be most engaged when the hips are flexed, which potential at the decrease element of the lift.

So, the decrease you go, the extra your hip adductor will be activated.

Lower Back Muscles

Traditional squats are an top notch approach to make bigger decrease returned strength. Smith machines don’t seem to be extra positive than traditional squats in this sense, however the workout can nonetheless help.

It is herbal to experience a bit of anguish if you do not generally work out this muscle group. Be positive now not to begin with a heavier weight to keep away from lower back injuries.

Spinal Erectors (Secondary)

Spinal erectors allow you to maintain your returned straight and engaged. However, Smith machines are an ineffective way to work out your erectors.

Much of this comes from your erectors being labored with the aid of the want to stabilize all through everyday squats. You do not have this fear with smith squats. However, your erector spinae muscle groups will nonetheless be activated to preserve your again straight.

Oversall, smith squats enable for higher engagement of your quads with much less for your erectors and core.

Abs (Secondary)

Free weight heavy squats are exact for your core due to the fact your core ought to work to stabilize your movement. With smith machines, this demand is removed. Because of that, your core will be working to a lots much less (approximately 40-50% less).

Either way, even with barbell squats, you nonetheless must be doing some ab/core precise exercises. Squats are no longer adequate regardless for full ab and core development. Your core takes on many roles, so you want to work it thru all moves (extension, flexion, anti-rotation, rotation, etc.).

The factor is, whilst barbell squats are amazing for creating normal core strength, if you desire to work your abs and different core muscle mass fully, you may want to enforce some core-specific exercises.

Smith machine squats benefits

There are a lot of possible advantages to using a Smith assisted squat machine. Here are a few of the most popular arguments in favor of this machine.

Increases Muscle Isolation.

Focusing on your quads and glutes is made possible by setting your feet in front of the Smith machine. Keep your feet closer together if you want to emphasize your quads even more.

Although there are alternative quad exercises, Smith machines are especially good at isolating the quadriceps and glutes since you can change your body position without having to worry about stabilization. There are numerous versions as well, allowing you to focus on different muscles.

Because of this, even professional bodybuilders use the Smith machine for their squats.

In essence, it’s a compound exercise with isolation features, or a superb assistance or accessory lift.

You do not require a spotter.

Every Smith machine features a catch system at the bottom. This catch mechanism serves as a sort of spotter substitute.

Basically, you can use the provided hooks to rerack the weight at any time.

However, it’s not typically advised to perform squats all the way to failure. Many people sustain injuries in this way. They reason, “Well, I can train to failure with a Smith machine since I can always rack the weight mid-rep,” but unless you are extremely experienced, in which case you are aware of your limitations and how your body feels, we do not advise it.

Nevertheless, when pushing yourself on leg day, it’s comforting to know you have that safety net.

Skilled lifters are able to lift more

Smith machines significantly reduce the requirement for stabilization. For seasoned lifters, this translates to increased weight and/or volume, and hence, more notable improvements.

Lessening of Injury Risk

The capacity of a lifter to concentrate on form and the catch system lowers your risk of injury. This does not, of course, mean that there is no danger of getting hurt. Like with any exercise, proper form and technique are essential.


When utilized properly, Smith machine squats are one of the most powerful squat workouts. Like other workouts, they must be a part of your rotation.

Your objectives, though, will determine how you include. Keep in mind that building quads and glutes is the optimum usage of Smith machine squats.

Other muscular areas will be challenged later by Smith machines. It does not, however, serve as a sufficient substitute for regular squats.

This manual should be useful to you. If it does, think about telling your friends about it. Here is a quick summary of some other pointers to bear in mind:

  • Don’t treat the Smith machine squat the same as you would a free weight squat. Instead of using Smith squats as an accessory movement for your quads, you should focus on free barbell squats. If you know how to use the smith machine, it is an extremely useful tool.
  • Find what is comfortable for you by experimenting with the angle of your toe.
  • The ideal neck position is one that is stable (staring at a wall).
  • Look down at your back pockets to help with form; they should be level with your heels.
  • Consider utilizing a thumbless grip if you’ve previously suffered from wrist pain. Try out many alternatives to see which is most comfortable.
  • Never forget to breathe.