Owning the best home gym Smith machine has countless perks: I don't need to queue for equipment, I don't have to drive to the gym in infuriating rush hour traffic and I certainly don't need to wipe other people's sweat off the machine.
You could say that life with a home gym is treating me pretty well. But what about the specific Smith machine benefits?
Sure, saving time and money by training at home is great. But what is it about Smith machines, in particular, that persuaded me to invest over a thousand pounds of my own money?
Let's find out.
I've been throwing barbells around since I was a teenager. In fact, I can still remember the excitement of ordering my very first weight set (from the Argos catalogue, of course). The thrill of pumping iron for the first time was so intense that it felt like I'd just opened my eyes after a thousand years of being asleep.
Anyway. Once I got past the initial newbie gains phase, I struggled to gain any additional size. And that was despite getting stronger week-on-week. It wasn't until I started experimenting with machines (and in particular, the Smith machine) that my muscle growth really started to take off.
Since I didn't have to stabilise the barbell, I could focus 100% of my attention on the working muscles. It was this shift from training movements to training muscles that transformed my physique.
Of course, this newly-acquired mind-muscle connection improved the potency of my pump significantly. But it also meant that I could spend far less time in the gym since each set was much more effective than it was before.
Obviously, a strong mind-muscle connection opens the door to a whole host of other Smith machine benefits...
This one's interesting. Because you'd think, wouldn't you, that everyone's stronger on Smith machines than they are with free weights. That's certainly the case for me. For example, when I switched from barbell bench presses to the Smith machine version, my 1RM instantly increased by 10kg. Not too shabby, eh?
Well, you see, these kinds of Smith machine strength gains aren't the norm. In fact, research shows that most people are, on average, 3% weaker on Smith machine presses than they are on free-weight presses . Maybe you're one of these people?
Testing your strength with both pieces of gym equipment (on different days, under the same conditions) is the only true way to find out where your talents lie. Plus, it's a fun little experiment—it makes you feel like a scientist.
Besides training with higher volumes and—you know—taking roids, the main reason why bodybuilders are bigger than powerlifters is that they have a stronger mind-muscle connection .
And, as we just established a moment ago, the mind-muscle connection is absolutely critical if you want to advance your physique past the newbie stage.
Sure, barbells will make you strong. And they can certainly add size, too. But for most people that I've trained with, machines produce the most impressive mind-muscle connection (and thereby muscle growth) out of any workout apparatus.
There's a high chance that you'll experience similar results.
Yes, lifting on the Smith machine will give you more confidence (not least because of the new muscle you'll build). You see, since you can easily re-rack the bar at any point during a rep with a simple turn of the wrist, you'll naturally have the confidence to train to failure, which stimulates faster muscle growth.
Of course, re-racking a Smith machine barbell is pretty much a piece of cake. But what if you're so fatigued—so utterly exhausted—that you can't even muster up the energy to perform a 15-degree wrist turn?
Well, fear not. Because the safety catches (providing that you deploy them) will always have your back. In this sense, working out on the Smith machine is like having a professional bodybuilder as a spotter—but without the cringy encouragement .
Obviously, this article alone isn't going to stop the Smith machine from getting hate. But I hope that I was nonetheless able to open a few people's eyes to the many Smith machine benefits.
If you have any more suggestions (or critiques), then I'd be happy to hear from you.
Until next time.