Major Lutie Guide Summary:

  • What to Do with a Smith Machine?
  • Downsides to Using a Smith Machine
  • Incorporating it into Your Program


If you've been to a gym, chances are you've seen the Smith Machine, a controversial piece of home fitness equipment that sparks mixed opinions. Some claim it's the worst and criticize its usage, while others argue it's superior to free weights and promotes gains.
In this post, we'll delve into the science behind the Smith Machine, weighing its pros and cons objectively. By the end, you'll have a clearer understanding of whether it aligns with your fitness goals. If you choose to incorporate it into your training, we'll also explore how you can do so effectively. Let's uncover the truth and make an informed decision about the Smith Machine!

What to Do with a Smith Machine?

The Smith Machine has been a topic of debate in the fitness community, with varied opinions on its effectiveness. Originally invented by Jack LaLanne, it can be beneficial if used as intended. In the 2000s, the Smith Machine gained popularity, with gym-goers eager to try various exercises on it.
The machine consists of a barbell supported on each side, moving along a fixed track with a pulley system for weight adjustment. Safety bars prevent excessive movement, and springs absorb impact, reducing the risk of injury. While the Smith Machine allows for a full-body workout, experts advise against solely relying on it for all training purposes. Instead, the Smith Machine is recommended for specific weightlifting objectives.
By utilizing the Smith Machine for the following purposes, you can optimize its benefits while complementing your overall workout routine.

1. Better Muscle Isolation:

Especially in a home gym, the Smith Machine offers a significant advantage by reducing the need for stabilization during exercises. With traditional free weight exercises, beginners may struggle to control the movement due to underdeveloped stabilizing muscles. This can lead to the barbell or dumbbells moving uncontrollably, potentially increasing the risk of injury. However, the Smith Machine's fixed movement pattern provides a guided path, acting almost like training wheels on a bike.


This enhanced muscle isolation in the Smith Machine allows for focused targeting of specific muscle groups during strength training. For example, during a Smith Machine row, you can prioritize engaging your legs rather than relying heavily on your forearms and mid delts for stability, making it beneficial for hypertrophy-focused workouts.

2. Ability to Lift More Weight:

Research suggests that lifters can often handle heavier weights on the Smith Machine compared to traditional free weight exercises like barbell squats and shoulder presses. The reduced need for stabilization allows you to lift more weight safely. By increasing the mechanical tension on your target muscles, you create a greater stimulus for muscle growth. The ability to handle heavier loads also aids in faster strength progression, leading to overall muscle development. For individuals solely focused on muscle hypertrophy and not concerned with building functional strength or mastering free weight movements, the Smith Machine may offer a valuable advantage in terms of loading capacity.

3. No Need for a Spotter:

Another practical benefit of the Smith Machine is the reduced need for a spotter during exercises. When performing traditional free weight exercises, like the bench press or squat, having a spotter is essential for safety. However, the Smith Machine's safety features, such as the ability to twist the bar and instantly rerack it, provide a secure training environment. While having a spotter is always advisable for added safety, the Smith Machine can be a viable option for individuals training alone or without immediate access to a spotter. This convenience can save time and make your training sessions more efficient.

4. Less Taxing on the Body:

Using the Smith Machine generally places less strain on the central nervous system and core muscles compared to traditional free weight and bodyweight exercises. The lack of need for constant stabilization allows for less overall muscle engagement throughout the body. This can be particularly advantageous for individuals following high-frequency training splits or athletes training twice a day. By incorporating more machine exercises, including the Smith Machine, into your routine, you can reduce overall fatigue while still effectively targeting specific muscle groups. Moreover, individuals with physically demanding jobs outside of the gym, such as builders or stockroom workers, can benefit from the Smith Machine's reduced fatigue, as it complements their everyday activities and helps prevent overexertion.


Downsides to Using a Smith Machine

1. Fixed Bar Path

The main drawback of the Smith Machine is its fixed bar path, which can lead to unnatural and uncomfortable positions during exercises. This fixed path can force your body into poor form, increasing the risk of injury, especially when lifting heavy loads. Exercises like squats and deadlifts performed on the smith machine may alter the natural movement pattern and put additional stress on your spinal erectors and other joints. It can also lead to poor posture and improper movement mechanics, which may cause pain and discomfort in the long run.

2. Less Overall Muscle Engagement

Due to the reduced need for stabilization on the Smith Machine, your core and stabilizing muscles are not as engaged as they would be during free weight exercises. While this can allow for better isolation of target muscle groups, it may not be the best choice for developing a well-rounded physique. Free weight movements like pull-ups and barbell rows heavily engage the core and smaller muscle groups, providing a more comprehensive workout for overall muscle development and functional strength.

In short, the Smith Machine has pros like better muscle isolation and safety features, but cons include the fixed bar path and reduced muscle engagement. To make the most of it, use the Smith machine wisely alongside other training methods.

Incorporating it Into Your Training

For a successful and well-rounded training program, prioritize free weights as the core of your workouts. Squatting and deadlifting on the smith machine should be avoided at all costs due to potential harm to your joints and spine. Instead, focus on bodyweight exercises or use free weights for these compound lifts.
While the smith machine can be useful for isolating target muscles and promoting hypertrophy, it's best utilized near the middle or end of your workout sessions. Avoid relying on machines, including the smith machine, for your strength work, as it differs significantly from lifting with a barbell.
If you aspire to compete in powerlifting meets, remember that strength on the smith machine won't translate to success. You must build your strength through free weight exercises to perform at your best.
When using the Major Lutie Smith machine, aim for rep ranges of 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps. This optimizes muscle growth while minimizing unnecessary fatigue caused by heavy lifting.
Therefore, maintain a balanced approach to your training, with the bulk of your work focused on free weights. Don't neglect stabilizing muscles, as they play a crucial role in developing a well-rounded physique that others will notice.


In conclusion, the Smith Machine can be a valuable addition to your workout routine if used correctly. Its benefits lie in better muscle isolation, increased weight handling capacity, and the convenience of not needing a spotter. However, it is essential to be mindful of its limitations and potential drawbacks, such as the fixed bar path and reduced overall muscle engagement.
For Major Lutie enthusiasts, incorporating the Smith Machine wisely can enhance your training experience. Utilize it primarily for isolation exercises to target specific muscle groups effectively. Remember to prioritize free weights for compound lifts like squats and deadlifts, as they provide a more natural movement pattern and engage a broader range of muscles.
By striking the right balance and understanding the science behind the Smith Machine, you can optimize your workout routine and achieve your fitness goals. Stay informed and make educated decisions about your training methods to ensure a successful and well-rounded fitness journey with Major Lutie. Lift it, rule it!


Q: Is it safe to deadlift on the Smith machine?
A: Smith machine deadlifts are doable but require expertise. If a barbell is available, it's preferable for standard deadlifts. However, in some cases, barbells may not be accessible.

Q: Can you lift more on the Smith machine bench?
A: Using a Smith machine stabilizes the bar for you, making the lift easier and reducing muscle effort. As a result, you can lift more weight compared to a free weight barbell.

Q: Why is Smith machine bench easier?
A: The Smith machine removes the actual weight of the barbell and restricts you to a straight/upward motion, which may not be comfortable for everyone. Without stabilization, the lift becomes easier.

You May Also Like



functional folding power rack called lightning f35 with home gym set including barbell bench and weight
Raymond C·
Power Rack Comparison - Which Major Fitness Rack Should You Buy?

a man doing bench press on a smith machine called sml07
Raymond C·
Power Rack vs. Smith Machine: Which One Is Right For You?

basement gym set up with white major fitness power rack PLM03
Raymond C.·
Pros & Cons of Home Gyms

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.