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The Smith Machine is basically a rack that holds weights at various levels. It allows a body builder to lift weights safely without the worry of dropping the weights or becoming unbalanced.
Jack Lalanne invented the machine and by the 1950s they were being manufactured and sold to gyms. Their original use was mainly as a self-spotting machine.
Beginning weight lifters often use a Smith Machine until they are more comfortable with how much weight they can safely lift. Because the Smith Machine has safety catches up and down the rack you can move the bar into a safety catch at any point.
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Do I need a spotter with a Smith Machine
When you’re exercising alone and don’t have a spotter you’ll feel safer with a Smith Machine. Because it is stabilized at the bottom it won’t shift sideways or move forward or backwards. This keeps you from losing your balance or getting stuck while doing squats or other exercises.
There are some differences in Smith Machines so make sure you know how the safety catches and bar release works on the particular machine you’re working on. Also, some machines go only up and down and others will move at an angle. Some exercises work better with one than the other.
Because the Smith Machine helps the weight stay stable you can focus on pressing the weight — not keeping your balance. This can be good if you’re lifting heavier weights for the first time.
You can also use the machine while doing bench presses; especially close grip presses and reverse grip presses.
Smith Machine Exercises
A few other exercise that are recommended with the Smith Machine include: Drag Curl, Upright Row, Front Squat, Behind the Back Shrug, Seated overhead press, Bent Over Row, Calf Raises, Hack Squats, Behind the Neck Overhead Press, Ballistic Training and many more.
Some people feel that using free weights produces better results. But the Smith Machine was developed to be used with a complete bodybuilding workout including the use of free weights. It was never intended to be used in isolation or to build a particular muscle group.
One of the most important uses of the Smith Machine is to help weight lifters build confidence. You can lift heavier weights without fear of losing your balance or getting stuck and not being able to get the weight back off you. Again, this is especially important when you don’t have a spotter to work with you.
Another use for this exercise machine is when weight lifters have suffered an injury and want a little more stability and safety to reduce the odds of further injury.
Some lifters like to use the machine at the end of their workout when the risk of fatigue is the greatest. Then they can continue pressing until they give out without worrying about risking their safety.
Beginners often find using a Smith Machine gives them the advantage of concentrating purely on pressing more weight without safety concerns or worries about trying to stabilize the weight.
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Mike Shiles is a bodybuilder, gym owner, freelance writer, success coach and author of “Burn fat build muscle. He has written thousands of articles on exercise, nutrition and health.