July 14, 2012

Beware The Smith Machine

I will brave it and take on another fitness staple; the Smith Machine.  The Smith Machine is a weighted bar that locks into place to allow you to perform squats, bench presses and lunges.  It is theoretically safer because the bar can be secured at any point during the movement, giving you the “safety” of lifting heavy weights without a spotter.
The main problem with this is that it locks you into one plane of motion.  There is a good chance that this is not your natural movement.  Performing a squat or lunge in such a fixed pattern can lead to back, neck and knee problems.  A bench press in such a fixed position leads to stress on the shoulders.  Since the machine helps balance and stabilize the weight, the tendency is to lift heavy, compounding the problem.  In addition, our bodies are made to move in 3D, and the straight up and down motion takes that away. 
If you have been relying on the Smith Machine, switch to dumbbells or barbells.  Without the machine to lean on you may need to lessen the weight, but you will work your stabilizing muscles, increasing your balance and coordination. 

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