Smith Machine Bench Press: Form, Benefits, Myths and Variations (2023)

Smith machines often get a bad rap, with no exceptions for the bench press. It is time to change that paradigm. If used correctly, the Smith machine bench press can help you overcome training plateaus, strengthen your pecs, and lift heavy loads without a spotter. We prepared this post so that you have a good idea of ​​the benefits, muscles worked and how to do a bench press on the Smith machine. Next time you're at the gym, try one of Smith's 6 Best Bench Press Variations. We are sure that you will not be disappointed with the results.

Smith Machine Bench Press: Form, Benefits, Myths and Variations (1)

How to Bench Press on a Smith Machine

Although both the barbell bench press and the Smith machine bench press are bench presses, you should note subtle differences in execution and preparation.

With the Smith Machine Bench Press, you need to be more aware of the original setup before beginning the exercise. With the traditional bench press or the Olympic bench press, the rack, bar, and bench are all in a fixed position. You will need to set up the workbench for Smith Machine vises.

It doesn't matter which Smith Machine bench variation you're making; it's imperative to make sure your setup is correct before attempting to raise the bar with additional weights.

Angled Track vs Straight Track

Smith machines generally have two different styles of rails that the bar will move along; straight or angular.

Some commercial gyms have completely straight vertical ranges that don't affect how you line up for a bench press. You'll set up the bench to match your preference for how comfortable you are unloading the bar, pushing the bar up, and flexing your wrists forward or backward.

Angled Smith machines can have a 5 to 12 degree incline, and this makes it necessary to determine which way to face the bench during the setup phase before doing the Smith machine bench press.

Don't let the gym mirrors fool you; many people place the workbench on the Smith machine so that they are facing the mirror. Instead, you need to consider the movement of the bar and whether or not you are mimicking the same natural way of doing the barbell exercise.

For example, when doing a normal bench press, the bar will start almost above the shoulders or upper chest; Then you press the bar towards your head. If you set the bench up incorrectly on an angled Smith machine, you'll be pushing the bar away from your face; this can cause injury and is less effective as you would push up unnaturally.

Always start with an empty bar before doing Smith Machine presses so you can test the path of the bar in relation to your body. The goal is to mimic the same movement pattern of whatever Smith Machine exercise you're doing for the free weight version of the same exercise. In essence, bench press exercises should move toward your head, not away from it.

To do a regular bench press on the Smith Machine, follow these steps:

Smith Machine Bench Press: Form, Benefits, Myths and Variations (2)

Step One: The Setup

Check to see if the Smith Machine has a fully vertical track or an angled track to see if there is any difference from the starting position to the bottom of the press.

Turn a bench over and place it in the middle of the Smith Machine; you can use the notched grip on the bar to help align where the center is.

Once the bench is exactly in the middle of the Smith Machine, lower the bar so that you can reach it while lying on your back with your arms fully extended toward the ceiling. You want to position it on the hooks at a level around where your wrists will be so you have some wiggle room to push the bar up as you pull it back.

Once the bar is at the proper height and your bench is in the middle, you should place the safety pins on both sides, especially if you are not lifting with a spotter. He should set the safety pins at a height that allows him to lower the bar through the full range of motion where the elbows exceed 90 degrees. If you have a spotter, safety pins may not be necessary, but an extra precaution is.

The last part of the initial setup is making sure you have the correct body position so that the bar lines up the right way. To do this, you will have to lie on the bench and try to align the bar with the line of the nipples or just above it. Remember that if you are using a Smith machine with an angled track, the bar will line up with the middle of the chest before pulling it out.

Test your setup by opening the bar, pushing up, and bending your wrists forward to unlock the bar. Slowly lower the bar toward your chest to see where it ends up. Remember that everyone is different and has slightly different body mechanics, and what may be comfortable for you may not be for someone else. The key to bar setup and setup is to make sure the bar isn't too high on your chest, where your shoulders will be in a compromised position. You also don't want the bar to drop too far across the chest unless you're trying to work the decline (more on that later in the post).

(Video) Get BIG Using The Smith Machine | Explained Easy

Perform 5 to 10 repetitions with the bar alone to ensure you're set up correctly before beginning your working sets. After that, it may be necessary to make adjustments by sliding your body up or down on the seat or by moving the seat a little more forward or back.

Step two: the disassembly

Un-racking is the first part of the Smith press. Lie on your back, stand up, and grab the bar with both hands using an overhand grip slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Plant your feet on the ground and keep your chest up.

To unlock or unlock the bar, you need to press down on the bar and flex your wrists forward or backward depending on your body position. For example, if you're using an angled smith machine, press up and flex your wrists forward to unlock the bar.

Step Three: The Descent

The lowering or lowering of the bar is the second action. Inhale as you slowly lower the bar to the middle of your chest with your elbows slightly bent 40-75 degrees to the side. You don't want your elbows to flare out to the sides or bend too close to your body. The elbows should be in line with the wrists and the bar is lowered towards the chest.

Lower the bar to your chest or a few inches above your chest; this is subjective to your individual circumstances. If you lack mobility or have shoulder or elbow problems, you may not go as low as some people. Just try to get to a point where your elbows are bent 90 degrees or a bit more before pressing back.

Fourth Step: The Ascension

Exhale as you press the bar up, contracting your pecs until your arms are fully extended. You can choose to lock out your elbows or stop just short of full lockout to increase your time under tension. If you block, you are moving through the full range of motion while also resting a bit at the top of the movement.

Step Five: Reorganization

Once you have completed the desired repetitions, you will need to flex your wrists in the opposite direction that you disarmed the bar. Make sure the bar is securely attached to the hooks before removing your hands from the bar.

Common Form Mistakes to Avoid on the Smith Machine Bench Press

Bad bank setup:There are some advantages to using the Smith Machine when it comes to ease of use, but it also means you have to be more mindful of your starting position. If you put the bench too far forward or back, you risk making the exercise less effective or worse, injuring yourself. That's why it's important that you practice a few repetitions with just the bar before you start doing your working sets with weights.

Looking the wrong side:Preparing to do the Smith machine bench press means you need to recognize the type of machine you're using and whether it's upright or angular. If it is vertical, you will have more freedom in the direction of your body. It will depend on your preference on how you like to unpack the bar, flexing your wrists forward or backward.

If you're using an incline machine, you should always set the bench so that when you press up, the bar returns to your head, not your feet.

Arms and head position:If you're using a Smith machine with a vertical rail, it should be directly under the bar so that once the bar is out of the rack, it's directly over the middle of your chest. If you're using an angled Smith machine, you'll start with the bar across your upper chest. Then, as you lower the bar, it ends at the middle of the chest or at the nipple line.

Regardless of the Smith machine used, the head and neck must remain in a neutral position.

Handle position:To do a traditional bench press on a Smith machine, you should use an overhead (overhand) grip with both hands placed on the bar slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. The reason for this placement is to produce maximum power as the elbows are stacked directly below the wrists. This alignment allows for more efficient power transfer.

Shoulders and upper back:Maintain contact between your shoulders and the bench throughout the movement. Keep your shoulder blades contracted so your upper back and shoulders remain stable during the pressing movement.

Elbow position:Elbow position is vital for an effective and pain-free bench press. If you bend your elbows too far in toward your torso, you may experience some pain in your elbow. However, if you spread your elbows too wide, you risk injuring your shoulders.

As you open the bar, you should bring your elbows in toward your body at a 45-degree angle. By making this adjustment, your elbows will be under the bar as you perform the Smith machine bench press. This elbow position will allow you to push more weight more effectively and safely.

(Video) Smith Machines Vs. Free Barbell Weights

Forearms and wrists:Straight alignment is an important aspect of forearm and wrist positioning during the bench press. If you keep your wrist and forearms in line with your elbows and bar, you'll be able to lift more weight.

Back, Buttocks, Chest and Feet:Our back has a natural arch as the spine has a slightly curved shape. You can keep a slight arch in your back when you bench press, but try to avoid a super high arch in your upper back as you can see some powerlifters do to break PR.

Keep your chest up and your butt in contact with the bench throughout the movement.

Finally, put your feet on the ground to help provide a solid foundation.

What muscles does the Smith machine bench press work?

The muscles worked in the Smith machine bench press are the same as in the regular barbell bench press, with one exception. When bench pressing on a Smith machine, your stabilizer muscles don't have to work as hard to keep the bar moving the right way. However, no matter which bench press or bench press variation you're doing, chances are you'll be using similar muscles to lift the weight.

Smith Machine Bench Press: Form, Benefits, Myths and Variations (3)

Pectoral mayor:This is the prominent muscle that makes up the majority of your chest. Commonly known as "pecs," this muscle is primarily responsible for flexion, internal rotation, and flexion of the humerus. Just put; this is the main driver when it comes to most pressing movements, including the Smith Machine bench press.

anterior deltoids:Also called the front deltoid, the anterior deltoid sits in front of the shoulder. This deltoid assists the pecs to shift the weight away from the chest.

Related:19 Best Exercises For Anterior Deltoids

Triceps Brachii:The triceps is not a primary mover in the bench press, but it is involved in helping you lift the weight. In the regular bench press, the triceps also help stabilize the weight, but when doing the Smith machine bench press, the stabilization aspect is significantly reduced.

Related:9 Best Lateral Head Triceps Exercises

Note: These are the main muscles used when doing the Smith machine bench press. It is important to note that if you change your grip, the muscles will activate differently. A wider grip will engage your chest more while reducing stress on your triceps and front deltoids. AhandshakeYou'll hit your triceps, front deltoids, and upper chest more since your elbows will be in front of the bar. A reverse grip with the palms facing you will emphasize theupper chest, front deltoids, triceps and biceps. The angle of the bench also affects the tension placed on these muscles. With a Smith Machine incline bench press, you'll hit the upper chest, front deltoids, and triceps more. A decline bench press will shift the emphasis to the lower chest.

A regular bench press also recruits severalstabilizer musclesto aid movement, but with the Smith machine these muscles are activated to a much lesser degree. These stabilizing muscles include:

  • rear deltoids
  • Rotator cuff muscles (infraspinatus, supraspinatus, subscapularis, teres minor)
  • toothed front
  • wider back
  • trapeze(middle and lower traps)
  • brachial biceps
  • Basic

Smith Machine Bench Press Benefits

Lift more weight:Performing a bench press on a Smith machine means that many of the stabilizing muscles are not needed to help lift the weight. This does not mean that your pecs receive less muscle activation.This studio showed that the Smith machine bench press and the regular barbell bench press resulted in similar activation of the pectorals. A large difference was observed in the reduction in muscle activation of the lateral deltoids.

Reduce the risk of injury:A common myth is that Smith Machines will cause injury or muscle imbalances. Just like any other gym equipment, if used incorrectly it can have negative consequences. Ironically, the Smith machine is used to rehabilitate injuries as it provides a smooth and stable motion.

You don't need a watchman:The Smith machine allows you to lift heavy weights without the need for a spotter. The safety pins can be adjusted by one level to protect you from potential injury if you don't complete a full rep. Just be sure to set the safety pins at a height that gives you enough clearance in case you need to jump off the bench if you can't get the bar back up.

Good for exhausting the pecs:While the Smith press may recruit fewer upper body muscles overall, it can allow you to work your pecs to exhaustion. This skill will help you stay on track.progressive overload, taking you to the promised land of muscle and strength gains.

Now that you understand some of the key benefits of a Smith machine, consider adding it to your home gym. If so, look at thebest smith machineson the market today.

Disadvantages of the Smith Machine Bench Press

Less overall muscle activation:The Smith Machine may allow you to better isolate your muscles, but there will be less total muscle activation. As we mentioned earlier, when you do the Smith press, your pecs will still be getting a good workout, but your deltoids and stabilizer muscles won't be working as hard, resulting in less overall muscle activation.

Fixed motion plane:Many people will complain about the Smith machine because the weight moves along a fixed plane of motion that they feel is unnatural. The fixed path may not be optimal for some exercises, as some movements often deviate from a straight path. We don't recommend using the Smith Machine as the basis of your training, but we recognize that it has its benefits as well.

(Video) Smith Machine Bench Press Vs. Regular Flat Bench Press to Build Muscle @hodgetwins

Longer setup time:Suppose there is no workbench in the Smith machine; this means you have to find a bank and then rotate, drag or load it. Finding a bench and avoiding all the obstacles in the gym before you even set it up can be a hassle. This takes longer than setting up an Olympic bench before you start pressing.

It can cause injuries:Just like with any other piece of equipment, if you don't use the Smith machine correctly, you could end up injuring yourself. For example, if you don't have your safety pins on and you're trying to bench press 1RM on the Smith machine without a spotter around; then you will not be able to change the position of the bar. The result can be tragic, since you will not be able to escape if the bar falls on you.

Smith Machine Bench Press: Form, Benefits, Myths and Variations (4)

Should You Do Smith Bench Press?

Yes, you should bench press the Smith machine from time to time if you want to work your pecs to exhaustion. If you're aware of the benefits of bench pressing with a Smith machine, you'll probably add this to your workout from time to time. You should use the Smith bench machine if you are recovering from an injury or want to lift weights without a spotter to assist you.

Smith Vs Bench Press Machine

Both the Smith machine bench press and the barbell bench press have the common goal of improving pushing strength by targeting the pecs. These exercises have their merits, but we always say that if you had to choose between doing one or the other, you should go for the free weight version to recruit more muscle fiber.

The standard bench press will engage more stabilizer muscles and is a more complete exercise. However, bench pressing on a Smith machine is better than barbell bench pressing at isolating and activating the pecs, allowing you to lift more weight. So both the bench press and the Smith machine bench press have their place at the end of the day.

When incorporating these exercises into your training regimen, you should keep your individual training goals and preferences in mind.

Related:The Ultimate Guide to the Bench Press

The 6 Best Smith Machine Bench Press Variations to Crush Your Chest

Here are 6 effective chest press exercises using a Smith machine. Don't let anyone tell you that Smith bench presses are no good. If you want to isolate your chest and add more bulk to your pushing exercises, using a Smith machine is perfectly acceptable. If you don't believe us, look at the many professional bodybuilders who use the Smith machine for hypertrophy purposes.

1. Smith bench press machine

Smith Machine Bench Press: Form, Benefits, Myths and Variations (5)

We've covered the Smith Machine bench press, how to do it, the muscles worked, the pros and cons above. Remember to follow the proper body position and execution tips to ensure you get the most out of this exercise. Don't forget that initial setup is critical to completing a safe and efficient Smith press.

2. Inclined bench press in Smith machine

Smith Machine Bench Press: Form, Benefits, Myths and Variations (6)

This bench press variation will follow the same directions as a regular bench press, except for two points. The bar should come down over the upper chest and the bench should be set at a 30 to 45 degree incline. The Smith machine incline bench press will work your upper chest and front deltoids more than the flat bench.

I like:

  1. Set up a bench with a 30 to 45 degree incline (if using the Smith machine tilted out of incline)
  2. Position yourself and reach up to grab the bar with both hands using an overhand grip with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  3. Unlock the bar and slowly lower it to your upper chest.
  4. Press the bar back to the starting position, contracting your lats, triceps, and front deltoids
  5. Repeat for desired repetitions

Note: You can change your hand placement to a wide grip to isolate more of your upper chest, or a tight grip if you want to engage your triceps more.

3. Smith Machine Decline Bench Press

Smith Machine Bench Press: Form, Benefits, Myths and Variations (7)

The declined Smith Press will employ many of the same mechanics as the standard bench press. The main differences here are how the muscles are worked, the optimal trajectory of the lift, and the setup of the bench. The decline bench press will hit the lower chest or the sternocostal head. The bench should be around -15 to 20 degrees, and as you lower the bar, you want the bar to touch your lower chest.

I like:

  1. Set up a bench on a 15-20 degree slope (if using the Smith machine on a slope, face the opposite side of the slope)
  2. Position yourself and reach up to grab the bar with both hands using an overhand grip with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  3. Remove the bar from the rack and slowly lower it to just below your chest.
  4. Press back to the starting position until your arms are fully extended
  5. Repeat for desired repetitions

Note: Try to get the bar to hit the lower chest, do a few practice reps first to make sure the position of the bench in relation to the bar is correct.

4. Supino Smith Machine Declive Reverse Grip

Smith Machine Bench Press: Form, Benefits, Myths and Variations (8)

(Video) THE SMITH MACHINE - WHEN TO AND WHEN NOT TO USE (THE REAL SCIENCE)

This version of the bench press can be done on a flat, incline, or decline bench. You also canchange your grip to closed, standard or wide🇧🇷 With the smith machine reverse press, you will take some of the emphasis off your shoulders and put it on your upper chest, triceps, and biceps. While the reverse grip bench press is known to target the triceps more than a traditional bench press, surprisingly, it dramatically increases upper chest activation. More specifically,This studio showed greater muscle activation in the biceps and clavicular region of the pectoralis major.

I like:

  1. Set up a bench on a 15 to 20 degree slope (if using the incline Smith machine, the opposite face of the slope)
  2. Position yourself and reach up to grab the bar with both hands using an underhand grip with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  3. Remove the bar from the rack and slowly lower it to just below your chest with your elbows bent.
  4. Press up to the starting position, making sure not to open your elbows.
  5. Repeat for desired repetitions

Note: It usually takes a few warmup sets to find the most comfortable place for the bar to land on your chest; just make sure it's low enough.

5. Prensa Hexagonal de Smith Machine

Smith Machine Bench Press: Form, Benefits, Myths and Variations (9)

You may have seen people in the gym doing this exercise with dumbbells, but not with a Smith Machine; we are here to change that. This exercise is best done on a Smith machine with a vertical rail; we do not recommend this with an angle machine. A Smith hex allows you to get into a position that would not be easy to do with most normal Olympic benches. The hex press is an excellent exercise for those who have shoulder problems due to the neutral grip used. The load is also the core mass, which reduces pressure on the shoulders because external rotation is reduced. The hex press will activate your triceps andinner chestmore than the traditional bench press because your elbows are bent to the sides throughout the movement.

I like:

  1. Set up a flat bench parallel to the bar in the middle of the Smith machine (some people place the bench perpendicular to the bar with just their upper back on the bench)
  2. Grab a V-bar attachment and lie down on the bench so it's on top of you, in the center of your body.
  3. Using a neutral grip on the V-bar, position it under the bar so that your hands are facing each other on the side of the bar.
  4. Remove the bar from the rack and lower it toward the center of your chest, keeping your elbows tucked in at your sides.
  5. Press down on the bar by contracting your chest and triceps until your arms are fully extended.
  6. Repeat for desired repetitions

Note: Do a few repetitions before adding weight to the bar to get comfortable with the movement. Keep in mind that unpacking and replacing the bar can be a bit tricky; you may want to ask someone else to help you with this.

6. Smith Machine Wide Grip Bench Press

Smith Machine Bench Press: Form, Benefits, Myths and Variations (10)

With the smith machine's wide press, you'll be positioning your hands at almost twice the width of your shoulders. Your elbows should be close to 90 degrees and below the bar throughout the movement. By doing this variation of the Smith Bench Press, you will be putting most of the load on your chest, reducing the amount of work on your triceps and shoulders. This version of the bench press is more difficult to perform, so start off lighter than you think and then work your way up.

I like:

  1. Set the flat bench in the proper position than the bar, which won't be as high compared to the regular Smith press.
  2. Lie down on the bench, then rise up and grab the bar with both hands in an overhand grip with your hands 2x shoulder-width apart
  3. Remove the bar from the rack, then slowly lower it to mid-chest while your elbows are almost directly under the bar.
  4. Push the bar back to the starting position contracting the pecs
  5. Repeat for desired repetitions

Note: Pay attention to your elbow position and make sure to lower the bar towards your lower chest.

How much weight does a smith machine take off your bench?

Smith Machine bars at many commercial gyms can weigh anywhere from 15 to 25 pounds. That means you'd take 20-30 pounds off the amount of weight you're lifting because dumbbells are typically 45 pounds. You can feel much stronger when you bench press on the Smith Machine because your stabilizer muscles don't have to work as hard to keep the bar in constant motion.

Note: Keep in mind that there is no standardized weight for a Smith machine bar; brands will use different weights.

Related:

final thoughts

Whether you're recovering from injury, training your chest without a spotter, or trying to exhaust your pecs for muscle and strength, go for some Smith machine bench presses. As more people learn about the benefits the Smith machine offers when manufacturing countertops, we hope they will give it a try. So the next time you're at the gym and need to do some bench presses, step up that misunderstood Smith machine and start pressing!

Related content:

  • Can you deadlift on a smith machine?
  • 11 Best Smith Machine Exercises

Smith Machine Bench Press: Form, Benefits, Myths and Variations (11)


Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before appearing.

(Video) How To: Smith Machine Bench Press(Explained) #shorts #workout #fitness #ytshorts #gym #chestworkout

Videos

1. GET BIGGER CHEST- TEMPO variation for Chest |New Series|
(Jeet Selal Aesthetics)
2. ⚠️Why you should be using the Smith Machine😵 #Shorts
(Mikahail Lewis Shorts)
3. Smith Machine Bench Press vs Free Weight Bench Press
(Josh Horn)
4. Full Body Smith Machine Workout! How To Work Everything In 3 Exercises At Planet Fitness or Any Gym
(Mailman Muscle)
5. Proof smith machine is cheating #shorts
(Everything Fitness Gym)
6. The 10 Absolute Worst Exercise Myths and Mistakes
(Muscle for Life with Mike Matthews)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Jamar Nader

Last Updated: 02/07/2023

Views: 5989

Rating: 4.4 / 5 (55 voted)

Reviews: 94% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Jamar Nader

Birthday: 1995-02-28

Address: Apt. 536 6162 Reichel Greens, Port Zackaryside, CT 22682-9804

Phone: +9958384818317

Job: IT Representative

Hobby: Scrapbooking, Hiking, Hunting, Kite flying, Blacksmithing, Video gaming, Foraging

Introduction: My name is Jamar Nader, I am a fine, shiny, colorful, bright, nice, perfect, curious person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.