The Smith Machine is one of those machines that divides the fitness and bodybuilding community. There are some people who will always use this machine to do squats and / bench presses, for example, whilst there are others who will never use this machine because they prefer to use free weights instead.
Nevertheless the truth is that anybody who is new to the gym should seriously consider using the Smith Machine to begin with because it enables you to do some core exercises safely and effectively without having to use a spotter.
This is particularly true with regards to the bench press because by using the Smith Machine to perform this highly effective exercise, you can start building a bigger chest without having to use a weighted barbell, which can be quite a daunting prospect for beginners.
All you need to do is to place a flat bench underneath the bar of the Smith Machine, and lie down with your chest directly underneath the bar (with no weights attached).
Then you just need to grab the bar with your hands slightly wider than shoulder width apart, twist the bar forward to release it from the grips, slowly bring it down to your chest and push upwards to complete one rep.
Once you have perfected your technique, you can then start adding some weights to the bar to create more resistance and make this exercise a lot harder.
You will find that because the bar can only move in a straight line upwards and downwards, you don’t need to use any of your stabilizer muscles. Therefore it will completely isolate your chest so that your chest muscles are the core muscles that are worked during this exercise.
In addition, because there are a number of support grips attached to the side bars, you can train to failure because if you struggle to lift the bar at any stage, you can simply twist the bar backwards and place it back on the support grips of the Smith Machine.
If you were to do traditional barbell bench presses, however, you cannot really train to failure unless you have a spotter because you will end up trapping yourself under the bar and may not be able to get up.
So here is a quick reminder of why the Smith Machine bench press is great for beginners:
- learn the correct bench press technique
- perform this exercise safely
- isolate the chest muscles
- train to failure without a spotter
Once you have learned how to do the bench press with correct form on the Smith Machine, and are now able to do several reps with a decent amount of weight added to the bar, you can then start thinking about doing bench presses with a barbell.
This will engage many more muscles because you need to learn how to push the bar upwards and lower it down to your chest in a controlled manner, and as a direct result of this, you should find that you will get even better results in the long run.
You can also consider doing incline bench presses on the Smith Machine before doing the same exercise with a weighted barbell because this will hit your chest muscles from a different angle.
The point is that if you are looking to build a bigger stronger chest and are new to the gym, the Smith Machine will really help you get started.
Don’t listen to all of the naysayers because this machine will make the traditional bench press a lot safer, and even if you end up using this machine all the time, it is still capable of delivering some impressive results.