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Squats: Smith Machine vs Free Weights

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Published on Sep 21, 2012

We're probably all familiar with free weights being superior to smith machine exercises, however have we ever thought about if this is true or not? In this video we talk about a study that was done using EMGs for smith machine and free weight squats:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19...

Please note I don't go into issues like form, injuries, stress, etc... we'll save that for another video!

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Video originally published on Jun 27, 2012

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Comments • 327

Neofolis
The problem with only looking at the main muscles is that the study doesn't take into account all of the smaller stabilizer muscles that get activated using free weights and probably don't get activated at all with any kind of machine exercise.  This leads to disproportionate strength between the main muscle groups and the underlying muscles, which is fine, if you just want to look big, but can lead to injuries in real world situations where the underlying muscles are not strong enough to deal with tasks that the main muscles would find comparatively easy.  There is also the chance of postural problems if these disproportions become too exaggerated.
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Vitaly Gurevich
If you are starting out It's better to go with smith machine, after that slowly migrate to free weights. The key is to know how to do correctly or you can get hurt. If you have a back issues and doing some therapy, smith machine is pure gold for that.
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Zach Farber
This makes me cringe. Squatting is a complex movement that requires specific timing and decent mobility in the hips ankles and shoulders. If you just do squats on a smith machine, you may be able to put on a little muscle in the short term (maybe), but it will more than likely lead to worsening posture, poor mobility and pain and won't lead to any functional strength. Totally totally useless. Don't do it.
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Gas'n'Oil
I cannot possibly squat even half way down, without tipping backwards. On the smithie, i can actually go ass to grass.
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VoltecRules
Why not just buy a smith machine that allows both: free weights and Smith machine excercises. Do both....
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Brenda
This man is so handsome.
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Travis S
you look jacked
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Aaron Knaus
I don't know what these people have against the smith.. But supposedly you're not lifting anything if you use it. Lol
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John LeVasseur
Good information. Myself, I prefer the Smith Machine squats. Been lifting since I was 18, now 51. I have never had one injury on the Smith Machine. I also like the ability to move my feet to different positions. Free weight squats restrict you to either narrow or wide stance. With a Smith Machine you just rack the weight when you're done. Free weights require you to save a bit more energy, to walk the weight back to the rack. Every time I've ever been injured was walking the weight back fatigued. If you're powerlifting I say go free weights. If you're an aging former athlete and want to keep going for the long haul, go Smith Machine. I might add, this is my opinion for squats only.
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Dev c
Hi Brandon..I like the way you described the scientific articles...the way it should be done. Iam 36 and just started to go to gym. I really  like your videos  greetings from Vienna, Austria
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