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The Muscles Are Targeted By The Smith Machine

Many may argue that the smith machine is not the best equipment when you want to target certain muscles of your body. There are a number of people out there who just do not find the benefit of using the smith machine. This hate may be attributed to the only vertical movement that the smith machine offers. However, the Smith machine is a very useful piece of equipment that has its place in any well-rounded training program. The Smith machine is very safe because it eliminates the need for a spotter since safety catches can be set at the bottom and with the hook system, you can re-rack the bar with a simple flick of the wrist at any point when performing an exercise. The smith machine also has the ability to perform an exercise at a slightly different angle while maintaining constant tension on the muscles. The smith machine also offers the option of doing ballistic barbell exercises, which are extremely dangerous with an unfixed or hooked Olympic bar. More importantly, most, if not all, do not know that the smith machine is actually very effective in isolating and targeting specific muscle groups of the body.

So if you are curious on what are the muscles targeted by the smith machine and how to effectively isolate them with each exercise, this article is definitely for you!

Here are some of the muscles you hit when using the smith machine:

1. Hamstrings, Quadriceps

The hamstrings and the quadriceps are the most commonly targeted muscles in the smith machine. This may be attributed to the fact that the most frequent exercises conducted in the equipment trains these muscles. On one hand, the hamstring is any one of the three posterior thigh muscles in between the hip and the knee. These include semimembranosus, semitendinosus and biceps femoris which are respectively found from medial to lateral of the anatomic position. The three hamstrings cross both the hip and the knee joint and are therefore involved in knee flexion and hip extension. On the other hand, the quadriceps is a group of muscles situated in the front of the thigh. This group contains four separate muscles. These include the vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, vastus intermedius, and the rectus femoris. Each of the vastus muscles originates on the femur bone and attaches to the patella, or the kneecap.

(Source: Elements.envato.com)

One of the most famous exercises you can do in the smith machine to target the hamstring and the quadriceps is the smith machine squat. Unlike standard free weight squats, with a Smith machine you can place your feet well forward of the bar to better target these muscles. You can perform this exercise through first positioning the bar across your upper traps. After that, with your feet six inches in front of the bar, shoulder-width apart, toes forward, carefully unlock the bar. With your core tightly pressed and chest lifted, squat down until your thighs reach parallel. After that, press through your heels in order to return to the starting position.

2. Gluteal Muscles

(Source: Elements.envato.com)

Following the hamstrings and the quadriceps muscle, the gluteal muscles are also one of the most commonly isolated muscles when performing exercises in the smith machine.

The gluteal muscles are a group of three muscles which make up the buttocks. These muscles include the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus. The three muscles originate from the ilium and sacrum and insert on the femur. The functions of the muscles include extension, abduction, external rotation, and internal rotation of the hip joint.

In order to target the gluteal muscles, you can also perform the smith machine squats as stated above. However, you can also romanian deadlifts. In order to do that, you should begin to position your feet underneath the bar at hip width apart. It is imperative to point your toes forward. After that, just outside your hips, grip the bar with an overhand grip and slightly bend your knees. Keep your back straight through leading with your hips. Then, lower your chest to the floor, pushing your hips back behind you. Pause once you pass your knees by approximately 2 inches before pushing through your heels, driving your hips forward and returning back the starting position. It should be remembered that you should watch out for your posture, making sure you are not curving off your back. You should also not lift the toes off the floor and bend the knees too much.

3. Shoulder Muscles

(Source: Elements.envato.com)

Most, if not all, people want their shoulders to look good. Other than it adds to your physical appeal, it also aids in the development of your upper body strength. Good thing that the smith machine can significantly isolate your shoulder muscles!

The smith machine shoulder press is the best exercise you can perform if you want your shoulders to develop. In order to do the exercise, you should position the bench in the upright position. After that, just outside shoulder width apart, you should tightly grip the bar. Then, slowly lower the bar down toward your upper chest. After that pause the bar just below your chin for a good 2 to 3 seconds. After that, press the bar back up, straightening out your arms, going back to the starting position. It should be remembered that you should keep your elbows slightly forward. It is also important to try to keep your back flat against the bench maintaining contact through your upper back and butt. If there is difficulty in extending the arms, slightly arching the lower back is acceptable.

4. Core Muscles

Having a developed and good core muscles is vital in order to have an overall good posture and strong body. However, just like free weight exercise, doing core muscle training is such a challenge. But, do not worry, with the help of the smith machine, you will be able to develop the core muscles that you want in a safer and more comfortable way.

(Source: Elements.envato.com)

One of the most effective core muscle exercises is the smith machine sit up exercise. If you are dreaming of well-defined, hard rock abs, the smith machine sit up exercise is what you need. Essentially, it is the same as the Smith machine crunch, except that, rather than on a bench, you are performing the movement on an ab mat.

In order to do the smith machine sit up exercise, you should first lie in the sit-up position, making sure your back is flat, eyes are looking straight up, feet are shuffled close to your hips. After that, you should set the bar so that when your arms are extended overhead while laying down, you can easily and safely grab it. Then, grab the bar firmly and then crunch up with your abs until there is roughly a 90-degree angle at your hips. After that, hold the contraction for a second and then lower yourself down to the ground until your back is completely flat again. You should repeat these steps for good 2 to 4 sets of 8 to 10 reps each.

5. Pectorals, Triceps, and Biceps muscles

(Source: Elements.envato.com)

The chest (pectorals) and arms (triceps and biceps) are definitely the most trained muscles in the gym because who doesn’t like well-defined chest and toned arms, right? Well, good for you! The smith machine can help you develop these muscles well!

The close grip bench press and barbell rows are one of the many exercises you can perform in the smith machine in order to target and isolate your pectorals, triceps, and biceps muscle.

On one hand, in order to perform the close grip bench press, you should first lay flat on the bench. After that, with your arms fully lengthened out in front, grip the bar 6 to 8 inches apart. Next, slowly lower the bar down toward your chest. Stop approximately 1 inch away from your chest and press the bar back up to the start position.

On the other hand, in order to perform the barbell row in the smith machine, you should stand inside the smith machine. Next, position your feet hip width apart and grip the bar at shoulder distance apart. After that, with your arms at full length, sit your hips back into the Romanian Deadlift position as stated above. Pull the bar in towards your mid-section and pause for a good 3 to 4 seconds. Then, slowly lower the back down, fully straightening your arms.


Indeed, the smith machine is a revolution! There are a number of different exercises you can perform in this innovative equipment. Through the smith machine, you will be able to train and isolate muscles in a more comfortable and safe way. The hamstrings, quadriceps, glutes, shoulder, core, pectorals, triceps, and biceps muscles are just some of the muscles targeted by the smith machine. If you are creative enough, you will be able to isolate more. So start your exercise training with the smith machine today, and see all the difference it can make!

1. Aaptiv. 2018. Why the Smith Machine May Be Worth Your While. Retrieved from: https://aaptiv.com/magazine/smith-machine. Retrieved on 5 March 2021.
2. Barbend. 2021. The 7 Best Smith Machine Exercises And How To Do Them. Retrieved from: https://barbend.com/best-smith-machine-exercises/. Retrieved on 5 March 2021.
3. Metro. 2016. Gym equipment tips: The Smith machine and eight ways to use it. Retrieved from: https://metro.co.uk/2016/03/18/gym-equipment-tips-the-smith-machine-and-eight-ways-to-use-it-5754810/?ito=cbshare. Retrieved on 5 March 2021.
4. Workout Labs. 2017. Smith Machine Squats. Retrieved from: https://workoutlabs.com/exercise-guide/smith-machine-squats/. Retrieved on 5 March 2021.

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