The smith machine is a relatively simple
piece of equipment, commonly found in gyms everywhere. Based
on my keen skills of observation (whenever I am not scoping
out the spandex babes in the gym) I have watched it used improperly
or even worse - placed improperly in gyms from coast to coast.
How the hell do you use a smith machine the wrong way? I mean
all you do is lift the counterweighted bar up and let it back
down, right? So how do you mess this up?
If your smith machine has a slight angle (7 degrees is the
industry norm) in the side carrier rails, there really is
an ergonomically proper and improper way of using it for certain
exercises, and using it improperly, you can really screw yourself
up. Improperly squatting and performing certain shoulder exercise
can wreak havoc on your joints, especially the lower back
and rotator cuff so take the time to make sure you and your
iron brothers and sisters are using the smith machine as it
was designed to be used.
I am writing this article because I have spoken to so many
of you who have lobbied hard within your departments to get
the funds (and I know how hard some of you are working to
get these funds from an already tight budget) to buy a smith
machine, and my fear is that after all the work of getting
the money and finally getting the machine, someone uses it
wrong, gets hurt, and then the department wants all the gym
equipment "outta there before someone else gets hurt".
I spoke to Wyatt at Nebula equipment manufacturing in Ohio
in researching information for you and he agreed on how many
smith machines he had seen used wrong. Nebula manufactures
probably some of the most bullet proof gym equipment you have
ever seen. Need 2000 pounds to perform leg presses, or a smith
machine that safely holds 6 plates on each side? Nebula is
your equipment! They are the experts and Wyatt (their national
sales manager) told me is that the angle of the carriage is
set at usually 7 degrees. Below is a list of exercises that
are commonly performed wrong and the correct way to perform
I hope you all find this helpful in preventing an injury
and maximizing your results from your hard work in the gym.
Amy Kassouf of Southern Florida is the beautiful fitness model
in this feature and the location was provided by our very
good friend Dave Humann of Fitness Gallery in Denver, they
are Colorado's premier gym equipment store.
Carrier Angle Direction
Up and to the Back
Up and Out
Up and Inward
Push Out and Downward
Push Up and Forward
The carrier guide angles up and back allowing your back to
naturally open up while squatting. Amy's foot position is
See how the guides angle up and forward? Amy is fun to watch
even when I tell her to do them the wrong way - dont
See how the carrier angles up and forwardthis angle
minimizes stress on the rotator cuff
In this angle the carrier is angles up and back, causing excess
stress to the shoulder joint and eventual injury
Notice how Amy is upright rowing up and inward? This follows
your bodies natural line of movement although poor Amy can
only row up so high!