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    What’s the difference between a Smith Machine and Free Weights on squats?

    The conclusion first. Smith Machines?and Free Weights have their own advantages, and exercisers need to choose according to their own training skills proficiency and training purposes.

    This article uses the Squat Exercise as an example, let's look at the two main differences between the Smith Squat and the Free Weight Squat.

    Main Difference

    -- The first is how far forward the foot can go. With free weight squat, there is only one possible position where the foot is under the barbell. The exerciser cannot do it any other way because it's easy to lose balance and cause injury. In contrast, the Smith Squat follows a fixed path, so there is no need for additional balance, and the exerciser can extend the foot to different distances for training.

    -- The second obvious difference is that it is easier to break through heavy weights with a Smith machine than with a barbell. The increased strength in the Smith squat is attributed to the reduced need for balance so that you can focus on pushing the bar up. When you squat with a Smith machine, your maximum strength will be higher.


    The main difference between the above two points has always been a hot topic of controversy in the fitness.
    So, what are the Pros and Cons of Free Weight Squats compared to Smith Squats?



    ●?You can't stand in the front. Taking this position while squatting will result in loss of balance and fall.

    ●?Since you can't stand on your heels during the movement, the activation of the glutes and hamstrings is shorter.

    ●?You can't isolate one leg because you can't keep your balance.

    ●?Putting your feet under your body means less torque at the hip joints and less involvement from the glutes and hamstrings.


    ●?You have freedom of movement, so the bar can move in an arc. The Smith squat will force you to follow the barbell path indicated by the machine, but the barbell path should be dictated by your body.

    ●?The free squat uses the bar to lower the body while leaning the torso forward slightly, but still maintain a neutral spine and neck.

    ●?During a free weight squat, your stabilizer muscles contract to keep your body stable. Since the stabilizer muscles are important for free weight exercises, it makes sense to train those with free weights.

    ●?Free weight squats activate the thigh muscles more than Smith squats. This is due to the position of the feet. Putting the feet under the body results in a greater moment around the knee and more load on the quadriceps.

    In contrast, the pros and cons of the Smith Squat are also easy to summarize.



    ●?The bar must follow a fixed trajectory in a straight line, not in an arc like in a free weight squat. When squatting, the bar should not move in a straight line. This puts more pressure on your lower back. The bar should move a little back and forth throughout the movement.

    ●?When your feet are forward, your hips lose their natural inward bend because your hips are forward and away from their ideal position. But thanks to the stabilizing nature of the Smith Machine, you can still do the movement in the wrong position, and their hips may even move well in front of the shoulders but flex the lower back badly leading to injury.

    ●?Also due to the excessive friction between the foot and the floor (preventing the foot from sliding forward) this creates a shearing force inside the knee which internally tries to open the knee. Compared to free weight squats, this puts additional pressure on the knees before the thighs are parallel or nearly parallel to the floor, increasing the risk of knee injury.


    ●?Safety. Smith squats can be a good alternative to free weight squats because they provide guidance that reduces the likelihood of an accident due to loss of balance.

    ●?Especially suitable for beginners. It's much easier to get exercise on the machine because it's fully guided and doesn't have to balance the bars. This reduces the chance of injury due to loss of balance due to muscle fatigue. There is also less chance of technical deterioration due to fatigue. Therefore, for beginners, machines are safer than lifting weights until they become proficient in controlling the stability of the core muscle groups. Smith machines are perfect for this purpose.

    ●?You can place your feet at different distances. Putting your feet further apart will activate more glutes and hamstrings. This effect is especially beneficial if your hamstrings and glutes are under-trained.

    ●?Since you are fully balanced, you can easily perform the movement with just one leg. You just need to focus on lifting weights, and balance and stability are no problem here.


    A flexible combination of the two training styles may be a good solution to the debate. Free weights place more emphasis on full-body muscle engagement, and machine training is easier to use and can strengthen the glutes and hamstrings. Both serve different purposes and choosing which one to execute depends on your goals and fitness preferences.

    Post time: Jul-07-2022
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