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Smith Machine & Squats


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This weekend i came across an old edition of Flex Magazine. It was February 2010. I don't normally read Flex but I figured hey what the hell it was a throwback to Arnold and his days. All that aside there was an article about Jay Cutler and his leg workout that it did this year to help him get ready for Olympia. What i thought was odd was the fact that he said he did not do conventional squats anymore that he used a smith machine. Now my question is this...why? Why would he use the Smith machine, I was my impression that a Smith puts your body in an unnatural angle when doing squats and that it is potentially more harmful. Am I wrong? Does working a Smith on squats actually just work your legs more than your entire body when doing conventional squats. Thoughts?

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There are some BB'ers that swear by the Smith machine for squatting, but truthfully, there really isn't any reason to use one because a Smith squat is NOTHING like a real squat. I've tried and tried to play around to emulate the feel of a real squat on a Smith, and all I get is bad positioning, feelings of instability (which is funny, considering it should be MORE stable) and just a generally crappy feel. You can't fold your torso forward as you would with a real squat, you can't use proper leverages to work through sticking points, and if you actually make the mistake of going deep, prepare to be stuck at the bottom. You can't physically do a deep squat on a Smith. Not possible. The leverages and mechanics just don't exist on that thing. Yeah, you can do partials and try to isolate this and that, but overall, you'll get way less bang for your buck on the Smith than a free weight squat, and you'll work a hell of a lot more doing the real thing.

 

I've always suspected that part of the reason is that, with many pro BB'ers being juiced to the gills and having vulnerabilities for tendon and ligament damage beyond that of most regular lifters, they feel the Smith is "safer" because it isn't putting the same stresses on the body. Not to mention, if you WANT to have a smaller waist, etc. from working fewer muscles in the core and stabilizers, then I guess it can serve a purpose there, but beyond these issues, I've never heard of anything to justify going with it.

 

When you're shooting a gallon of juice in your backside weekly, you can grow training on a schoolyard jungle gym if you know just how to use it Not that I'm meaning to slam those who choose that route - you're entitled to do what you want with your body, fine by me. But, if you want actual STRENGTH to go with that massive size, why not do what's proven to be far more effective and steer clear of the machine abuse? I love Cutler's size and physique, but I wouldn't be surprised if he'd have a hard time squatting the weights I used to as a considerably smaller guy than a mass monster like himself, based on his avoidance of free weight squats and the terrible carryover from the Smith and doing other machine movements. There's just no replacement - it's like when years ago I thought that after leg pressing 1350 for sets of 6 reps I would be a squatting machine, only to get stapled to the floor by a mere 285 lbs. my first time out

 

Pros say a lot of wacky stuff regarding training. Take it all with a grain of salt - many guys out there get programs from their trainers, get juiced up from their "physicians", get their nutrition and meal plans from someone else....many of them are simply the by-product of the work of many others who all make the whole, all they need to do is follow the advice and hit the iron and the rest kinda takes care of itself. The rest of us mere mortals go it alone and have to figure it out for ourselves

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