Ok Coach S here is my thoughts on the Smith Rack.

After we discussed the differences between the traditional bench press and a Dumbbell version brought up the question of how good of a product is the Smith Rack. The answer is, terrible. Take all of the things we discussed about the bench press and magnify them. If you have imbalances in the efficiency of your muscles whether it be a strength imbalance or a lack of range of motion, the Smith rack will only cause more problems. caribou-rack

Let me try an analogy to help this make sense. I have used this similar analogy before but when I learned it it jut made sense. Pretend your body is a car. Now imagine your shoulders are the wheels. If there is an imbalance in the wheels it will cause the alignment to be off which in turn will cause improper movement. In the shoulders, tightness of muscles, imbalances in strength, and other factors can limit the efficiency of movement of the joint. 

So if your alignment is off and you try to drive the car you will have inevitable problems. The same is true in your joints, if they are misaligned you will have problems (arthritis, tendonitis,). Now imagine if you had to drive the car with the bad alignment on rails. How much more of an issue would this cause. To force something that is not working correctly to try and work correctly usually does not go well. 

Try forcing a joint that does not want to move in a certain way to be forced to do so and what do you think will happen? Injury is what will happen. Soft tissue damge in the form of muscle tears, cartilage damage, ligament damage, or just wear and tear that create pain and trauma in the joint are several examples of what happens when you force a joint that is misaligned to be moved in a very specific plane. 

That is the real issue with the Smith Rack, It forces you joints in the upper body since the machine is on rails. There is no chance for your body to move through the appropriate plane based on its current level of efficiency. Instead the plane is forced on the body due to the design of the machine. At least in a Barbell bench press you can change the angle of the plane based on what your body needs. 

I highly recommend you avoid this type of equipment. It is just not worth the damage it can create. Remember to base all your decisions on what the negative side effects of the machine can be, not the obvious positives. In the example of a Smith rack, there are far to many negatives that outweigh the potential of a positive.

2 Comments on this post


  1. Joe the Trainer said:

    I think the best use for this machine is for rear delt pullups

    April 23rd, 2009 at 5:46 pm
  2. Scott said:

    You can also set the bar up high and do chin-ups and pull-ups on it.

    April 24th, 2009 at 10:07 am


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