No Spotter -- Smith Machine a good option

  • tbone25

    Posts: 144

    May 11, 2010 12:49 AM GMT
    I work at a university and am just starting to lift more seriously. The semester is at an end and I'll be working out more and more alone. I know you shouldn't but I've been working out without a regular spotter. And now that the gym is going to be more and more empty, I was wondering if bench pressing with a Smith Machine gets the same results. I feel like it is safer if I can just lock it off if I get in trouble.

    Thoughts?
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    May 11, 2010 1:25 AM GMT
    smith machine is a good option if you have no other choice, however, there are ways around the no spotter problem.

    I don't have one usually (although right now I've my brother coming with me to the gym) but, I used to do bench presses without any clamps holding on the weights, one it made it easier chucking weights on if needed and two if I get stuck I could just tip the bar over and the weights would slide off if needed.

    Also, I knew when I was at my last complete rep and attempting to do another would have been silly for me, so I'd stop there if I was being smart and there was blood in my head still heh, couple of times i got stuck, but that's kewl, again, slide the weights off, they come down with a massive crash but I didn't care.

    one gym I went to a couple of months back actually had a tether coming down from the roof that would attach to the bar and you could set it just high enough so that the bar wouldn't touch your chest so that if you did fail it would hang there with like an inch or less of space between you and the bar, I thoght that was an awesome idea, was a bit of a bitch setting up but you could go to town on it safely.
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    May 11, 2010 2:19 AM GMT
    The Smith Machine is OK - but if your gym has a safety cage, I think that would be the better option. You still have protection from the barbell crashing down on you while getting more range of motion and being forced to use stabilizer muscles more than with the Smith Machine.
  • UFJocknerd

    Posts: 392

    May 12, 2010 5:12 PM GMT
    I use a squat rack with the safety bars in place as I usually lift early when there are few people around. If that's not an option, this

    MuchMoreThanMuscle saidtry to do dumbbell presses for your chest workouts.


    is a good plan.
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    May 12, 2010 5:43 PM GMT
    I can count the times I've used a spotter on one hand, and always use free weights.
    The key is knowing when you're at your last rep. In fact, stopping one rep before your last rep is even more safe. You will still make gains. And if you feel like you need that extra rep or two, drop the weight and do them. That's the same thing as using a spotter, because all he does is reduce the weight you're lifting.
  • neosyllogy

    Posts: 1714

    May 12, 2010 6:11 PM GMT
    Personal opinion: I hate the smith machine.
    Whether for bench or squats (or anything else I can think of). (A) the lifting arc is not natural, I don't like the feel of it, and suspect it's not great for you. (B) it promotes development of some large muscle groups without development of associated stabilizer muscles. I personally don't like to be able to 'lift more than I can actually lift', so to speak. I don't think it's a good idea.

    Again, that's me, and what I want form my workout. Some people just want big muscles and like the smith machine because it lets them focus on, say, pecs without being held back by stabilizers...

    BUT, there are other options minus a spotter (I never use spotters anymore, I don't like the logistics of gym buddies and I don't like interrupting my flow by finding another guy in the gym (though that's TOTALLY acceptable and normal if you want to -- don't need to be shy).

    Two main alternatives (1) use dumbbells, this is generally my preference. (2) use power bars. those bars that are on the side of bench press equipment. Set them up above your chest so if you drop the bar it won't fall on you. (You can also set them up just below your chest and then psuh the weight downwards if you can make it (as your chest should be higher than your hips) your call.

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    May 13, 2010 12:42 AM GMT
    Dumbbells are the better option.
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    Jun 13, 2010 6:00 PM GMT
    Safty cage +1 use the smith machine if you have no other option. Just go to craigslist and see if you can find a sane person to spot you.
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    Jun 13, 2010 6:05 PM GMT
    I love squatting on the smith machine...

    Ass to the ground and every last rep that's in me, until my quads burns icon_smile.gif

    I always get lectured by 140lb kids in the gym making asses of themselves... you should do that with the real bar... yeah go fuck yourself and your 15 inch pencil legs bouncing 3 inchs with a bar on your neck
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    Jun 13, 2010 6:05 PM GMT
    neosyllogy saidPersonal opinion: I hate the smith machine.
    Whether for bench or squats (or anything else I can think of). (A) the lifting arc is not natural, I don't like the feel of it, and suspect it's not great for you. (B) it promotes development of some large muscle groups without development of associated stabilizer muscles. I personally don't like to be able to 'lift more than I can actually lift', so to speak. I don't think it's a good idea.

    Again, that's me, and what I want form my workout. Some people just want big muscles and like the smith machine because it lets them focus on, say, pecs without being held back by stabilizers...

    BUT, there are other options minus a spotter (I never use spotters anymore, I don't like the logistics of gym buddies and I don't like interrupting my flow by finding another guy in the gym (though that's TOTALLY acceptable and normal if you want to -- don't need to be shy).

    Two main alternatives (1) use dumbbells, this is generally my preference. (2) use power bars. those bars that are on the side of bench press equipment. Set them up above your chest so if you drop the bar it won't fall on you. (You can also set them up just below your chest and then psuh the weight downwards if you can make it (as your chest should be higher than your hips) your call.


    Excellent advice. I do see experienced, well-built guys using the Smith machine, but I agree with the above that it forces you into a specific path of motion that is not natural or optimal for many guys, depending on their geometry.
  • dannyboy1101

    Posts: 977

    Jun 13, 2010 6:21 PM GMT
    lilTanker saidsmith machine is a good option if you have no other choice, however, there are ways around the no spotter problem.

    I don't have one usually (although right now I've my brother coming with me to the gym) but, I used to do bench presses without any clamps holding on the weights, one it made it easier chucking weights on if needed and two if I get stuck I could just tip the bar over and the weights would slide off if needed.

    Also, I knew when I was at my last complete rep and attempting to do another would have been silly for me, so I'd stop there if I was being smart and there was blood in my head still heh, couple of times i got stuck, but that's kewl, again, slide the weights off, they come down with a massive crash but I didn't care.

    one gym I went to a couple of months back actually had a tether coming down from the roof that would attach to the bar and you could set it just high enough so that the bar wouldn't touch your chest so that if you did fail it would hang there with like an inch or less of space between you and the bar, I thoght that was an awesome idea, was a bit of a bitch setting up but you could go to town on it safely.


    Wow, you've got a laid back gym! If I did that in my gym, I'd be getting yelled at and thrown out on the street by other lifters if not gym employees.
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    Jun 13, 2010 6:36 PM GMT
    I agree with smith machine "haters"

    I used to use it for bench presses all the time... lulled myself into thinking I could really lift sizeable weight... au contraire...

    It's taken a few months of dumbbell presses to build up the stabilizer muscles and now I can do real barbell presses without the weight wobbling all over the place.

    Safety cage is your best option...depending on where you set the side rails, it can either limit your range of motion...or if you put em too low, well, they don't offer any protection!

    Find a cute spotter! icon_smile.gif best option!
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    Jun 15, 2010 2:25 PM GMT
    Dumbbells are the much better choice. Ive never needed a spotter
  • mybud

    Posts: 11837

    Jun 16, 2010 3:37 AM GMT
    tbone25 saidI work at a university and am just starting to lift more seriously. The semester is at an end and I'll be working out more and more alone. I know you shouldn't but I've been working out without a regular spotter. And now that the gym is going to be more and more empty, I was wondering if bench pressing with a Smith Machine gets the same results. I feel like it is safer if I can just lock it off if I get in trouble.

    Thoughts?


    Dude I was thinking the same thing....I have a 400 pound weight set in my basement......I lift alone...no spotter....At times I think to myself.....What if I have a failed lift......I would be fucked.......Brah...check out Craigslist in your area.....That's where I got my weight set for about 125 bucks. Alot of smith's on there.... relatively cheap....All the best....BUD
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    Jun 16, 2010 4:00 AM GMT
    Using the smith machine for chest just doesn't feel right for me. I alternate workouts using free bars one chest day and dumbbells on the next chest day. With the smith machine, I just don't feel like I'm getting a decent chest workout.

    However, for legs I think it's perfect. I can squat and hit muscles from angles I couldn't without killing myself with a free bar.

    I also love doing behind-the-back barbell shrugs on smith machine. It really helps me isolate my traps without worrying about keeping my balance. People always look at me kinda funny when I do them, but I while I have the trap strength to do 10-12 dumbbell shrugs with 80 pounders, I don't have the grip strength to hold onto them. This seems like a good alternative.
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    Jul 09, 2010 10:55 AM GMT
    NO SMITH MACHINE ...


    its doesnt give a true range of motion and also teh fact that it does a horrible curve to the back. stay away from them!

    other machines would be


    Hammer strength machines or free weights (start out lower to get form down)


    hope this helps

    spence