What Is a Smith Machine? An In-Depth Guide

Did you know that only 30.2% of US adults meet the strength training regimen recommended by the American Journal of Preventative Medicine? Many are scared of injury, or simply don’t know where to start. 

The Smith machine is a great way to practice movements in a safe environment. Quite the controversial piece of equipment, many shy away from the Smith machine. Whether you’re unsure how to use it, or have simply heard it isn’t useful, not to worry.

With proper form and knowledge, the Smith machine can become a staple in your workout routine. Read on to learn how using the Smith regularly in your fitness regimen can benefit you.

What is the Smith Machine?

Introduced in the 1950s, the Smith machine functions by restricting the barbell between steel rails, limiting the range of movement. This method can reduce the risk of injury. The machine can be used for a variety of exercises targeting many muscle groups, making it extremely versatile.

Effective Smith Machine Exercises

Now that you know what the Smith machine is and how it works, how can you use it to maximize your workout routine? Here are three exercises targeting different muscle groups. All can be performed on the Smith machine.

Kaz Press: Triceps

To perform the Kaz Press, position a bench under the barbell and take a shoulder-width grip. Unrack the bar at full extension and lower to the chest by bending at the elbows.

This movement builds strength for bench presses since the Smith machine allows heavier weight to be added with a lower risk of injury. Like any workout routine, when combined with proper diet and nutrition, the Kaz Press is a great way to grow your triceps.

Smith Machine Back Squat: Glutes

Simply take a shoulder-width stance and position the bar across your shoulders. Keep your spine in a neutral position as you squat down until your thighs are parallel with the floor.

Not only does this exercise work the glutes, but it also works the rest of your leg muscles and your core. With this simple movement, you’ll hit almost half your muscle groups. With proper form, the machine will also bring stability to the movement, reducing the risk of injury.

Smith Machine Incline Bench Press: Upper Pecs and Shoulders

With the bench set at a 45-degree angle, you’ll grasp the bar with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Keep your forearms at a vertical angle and lower the bar to the chest. Repeat for as many reps as you’d like.

Using the Smith machine for the incline bench press allows you to lift heavier weights without the concern of dropping them. You’ll be able to practice form and increase your maximum weight with fewer safety concerns.


If you’re looking for gym equipment to enhance your workout routine, the Smith machine is a great place to start. It’s an easy way to engage your muscles without the safety hazards of barbells. Smith machines usually run between $2500 and $8000. 

Other Resources

If you’re looking to expand your strength training setup, you may also wish to consider free weights. Don’t neglect cardio, though, and consider adding a treadmill or stationary bike. Of course, the Smith machine is a great addition.

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