A smith machine is one piece of equipment you are likely to find in many commercial gyms in most countries around the world; most of people that encounter smith machines tend to either misunderstand or misused the devices.
+What is a Smith Machine?
Most people have seen smith machines before, even though they might not have known at the time what they were dealing with; the devices constitute a bar that moves up and down a vertical track. The bar has hooks at its ends used to hook it to the frame of the machine. You might have also observed the stoppers which are designed to inhibit the movements of the bar.
A smith machine essentially mimics a power rack, the primary difference being that the barbell does not have freedom of movement (which, for many people, is a problem).
+The Smith Machine and exercises
The Smith machine can prove to be a pretty efficient device when utilized in tandem with a specific set of exercises; contrary to what most people think, there is such a thing as good exercises and bad exercises that can be done with the smith machine.
There are a select few exercises for which the smith machine would be perfect. In fact the device was initially designed with partial training in mind; and when utilized properly, the smith machine can deliver results in this arena, adding a level of stability to extremely heavy weights and, thus, making them much safer to utilize.
The fact that the linear path of the bar doesn’t interfere with one’s activities when performing exercises that utilize a short range of motion is an added advantage.
It has also been said that, if you do not have easy access to a calf raise machine, a smith machine would be your best bet, with the linear stabilization of the bar bringing many a benefit to standing calf raises.
However, despite these beneficial attributes, Smith machines do not attract much praise from professional trainers; after all, you might find the smith machines perfectly competent in the arena of partial training and standing calf raises, but they are not actually good for anything else.
Short of utilizing the bar alone as a tool (for activities such as chin ups), the smith machine is largely irrelevant in most other training activities, so much so that it is highly inadvisable to acquire the machine for your home gym, not with the prevalent risks of injury.
The body simply wasn’t build to move in a linear manner; and unfortunately that is what the smith machine does. It forces you to move linearly, which is bound to attract some fairly unexpected and unattractive results, especially when the machine is used for a full range of movements.
You will apply the kind of shearing force to your body that will essentially grind your joints. And while immediate injuries are unlikely, prolonged use of the smith machine will grind the connective tissue of your joints down.
No matter what the media might try to tell you, the number of exercises you could do with the smith machine is so small that it is not worth purchasing for your home gym.
More importantly, the beneficial nature of smith machines ends with partial range training. Anything that exceeds these parameters is going to deliver punishing results to your joints.