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Axe the Smith Machine

Written on July 6, 2007 at 2:44 pm, by Eric Cressey

Q: Many members have complained about the thought of getting rid of the Smith Machine in our gym and replacing it with a power rack. If you wouldn’t mind giving me some ammo (arguments) to shoot them down , I’d really appreciate it.


1. The Smith Machine offers less transfer to the real-world than free weight exercises.

2. Depending on the movement, the shearing forces on the knees and lumbar spine are increased by the fixed line of motion.

3. The lifter conforms to the machine, and not vice versa. Human motion is dependent on subtle adjustments to joint angle positioning; the body will always want to compensate in the most advantageous position possible. Fix the feet and fix the bar, and the only ways to get this compensation are inappropriate knee tracking and, more dangerously, loss of the neutral spine position.

4. Smith machines are generally more expensive. I suspect that you could get a regular coat rack for about $2K cheaper – and it would take up less space.

Eric Cressey

2 Responses to “Axe the Smith Machine”

  1. Jimi Varner Says:

    Hey Eric,

    Very true, but the Smith rack is PRICELESS for inverted pull-ups and hip ‘over’ and ‘unders’ to work on hip flexibility!


    Jimi Varner

  2. Anonymous Says:

    I don’t know what type of power rack you’ve got but I can do both inverted pull ups and under overs on my power rack with ease.

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