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THE SQUAT, part 2: Smith Machine

When compared with the ordinary Barbell Squat and Front Squat, the so called Smith Squat may generate somewhat less overall benefit. However, it provides advantages, especially in respect to the protection of knee joints and lower back.

Also, the Smith Squat generally allows for more control over the movement, as the bar does not need to be balanced by the athlete himself, but just slides up and down vertically along the guide rods of the machine. Therefore it is easy to stop the descent at a certain level, which is generally when the upper thighs are about parallel to the floor.

It is this particular feature of the Smith Machine, which allows for placing the feet forward as opposed to straight underneath the bar, so that during the execution of the Smith Squat the knees never extend beyond the athlete's toes. It goes without saying that the knees must always be kept in line with the toes throughout the entire movement. During the descent of the bar the lower back must stay perfectly rigid and stable (arched) with the hips remaining under the bar . This will keep the stress on the lumbar spine to a minimum. Allowing the butt to stick out behind during the descent would bring the back into play and diminish the benefits of the exercise, while increasing the danger of injury.

The Smith Machine allows for a variety of different squat versions. While the foot placement for the basic version of the Smith Squat is about shoulder-width apart, placing the feet wider apart with toes and knees pointing out towards the sides will shift the focus of the exercise towards the inner thighs ( leg adductors) ;

Performing the Smith Squat keeping the feet back and going down deeper than parallel to the floor, will emphasize the development
of the glutes.

Whatever version you may choose to perform, be careful not to lock out your knees at the top. Also make sure that you avoid placing the bar too high on the neck, but keep it rested low on your rear delts and traps. Last but not least, always perform the movement looking straight ahead.