Personally I have a Smith Machine and wouldn’t be without one. When training at home I don’t have the luxury of someone to spot for me so having a device that allows me to train with weights the way I like and need safely is a must. If you don’t know what a Smith Machine is – read on.
Basically it is a barbell that is fixed within steel rails, allowing only vertical movement. This allows you to do squats, bench press, rear shrugs, bent and upright rows and much more. It is not true free weight training as the machine guides the forward and rear movement but gets very close to it.
The Smith machine has been around since the 1950s from the USA where Jack LaLanne built a sliding apparatus in his gym which was shortly spotted by a men’s bath house manager who had the design improved and installed in the gym he was managing. The design took off and was very successful sold and incorporated in many gyms as it still is today.
One of the things I find really helpful is the stops. You can set a height for the barbell to stop at by using a series of slots on which the barbell can be hooked. When you are finished or if you fail the barbell stops on the predetermined height reducing the risk of injury. I wouldn’t use a model that didn’t have blocks as you have to twist the bar to lock it in place which is no good if you are failing.
Like with all mechanically assisted lifting the Smith Machine does not give the full benefit of free weights so there are many arguments for and against. I train on my own at home so this is a very good compromise and I combine it with other training methods.
You don’t have to purchase a Smith Machine on it’s own as there are several Home Gym designs that with one incorporated, in fact that is the design I chose due to limited space. Also you don’t have to spend a fortune either. Usually the more you spend the better you get but a budget machine can offer plenty of training benefits as well.