How To Do The Smith Machine Deadlift Properly

A conversation about lower body strength would not be complete without mentioning the Smith machine deadlift.

Just like its name suggests, it is a conventional deadlift that is done on a Smith machine.

Normally, most people would prefer to do the deadlift with a barbell, but what happens if the gym you go to does not have barbells? That’s where the Smith machine comes in.

There are many other exercises that you could do with a Smith machine if you cannot access a barbell, but in this article, we discuss all you need to know about a deadlift done on a Smith machine.

A good place to start is how to do it.

Use the steps below as a guide on how to do it with proper form;

  • Set the machine bar to the lowest setting on the machine. It should rest on the safety catches.
  • Stand behind the bar and place the weights in the position you want your feet to go. The distance between the bar and your shin should be between 0.5 to 1 inch.
  • Place your feet securely on the weights before gripping the bar as tightly as you can slightly outside your shins.
  • Maintaining a straight spine, lower your hips until your shins are perpendicular with the ground.
  • Lift your chest so that your shoulders don’t round.
  • Push your heels into the ground and extend your knees to push upward explosively with the bar.
  • When the bar gets to your knees, drive your hips towards the front of your body, squeezing your glutes throughout the movement. Maintain a straight spine all through.
  • Do not lock out fully at the top position; stop immediately you notice your hips are neutral. Make sure your glutes are engaged at the top position.
  • Lower the bar slowly as you drive your hips back.
  • Let the bar come slowly down and flex your knees.
  • When the bar gets to the bottom, pause for a moment and repeat these steps as many times as you want.

WHAT MUSCLES DOES THE SMITH MACHINE DEADLIFT WORK?

The Smith machine  deadlift involves plenty of muscles, most on your lower body and a few on your upper body.

When you explode with the bar upwards, you work your hamstrings, trapezius, calves,  glutes, rhomboids and quadriceps.

And when you lower it to the starting position you recruit your back and abdominal muscles.

BENEFITS OF THE SMITH MACHINE DEADLIFT

REDUCES PRESSURE ON YOUR LOWER BACK

It is no secret that the Smith machine deadlift has earned itself quite a reputation thanks to the injury risks associated with doing it.

But you don’t have to feel that way about it; it all comes down to what technique you choose to use for which particular type of the Smith machine.

For instance if you are using the angled type ( which most gyms have) you should make sure you are facing the machine in such a position that creates an angled bar path which comes towards your face rather than away from it.

This makes sure that when you lower the bar it moves away from you, and when you get up, it moves towards you.

This helps reduce pressure on your spine and lower back during the exercise..

HELPS TRAIN PROPER FORM

For starters, it is important to note that this benefit is more specific to the straight bar path Smith machine.

This particular type can be very helpful to you especially if you are a beginner, as it keeps your bar path exactly as it should be which helps train you on the correct mechanics of the exercise.

ALTERNATIVES TO THE SMITH MACHINE DEADLIFT

SMITH MACHINE ROMANIAN DEADLIFT

The Smith machine Romanian deadlift can be super effective at working your hamstrings, glutes, abductors and erector spinae when you do it correctly.

Here is how you should do it:

  • Stand behind the bar on an elevated platform.
  • Bend your knees slightly and position your feet hip-width apart.
  • Grip the bar firmly with your palms down and your hands shoulder-width apart and position it about mid-thigh.
  • Hinge at your hips, bend your knees slightly and straighten your back as you slowly lower the bar. Make sure you are not squatting like you would in a regular deadlift; the bent knees should help with this.
  • Lower the bar downwards until you feel your hamstrings maximally stretch.
  • Drive your hips forward to get back to the starting position.
  • Repeat as many times as you want.

SMITH MACHINE DEADLIFT MISTAKES TO AVOID

ARCHING YOUR BACK

An arched back puts you at great risk of injury because of the immense pressure it places on your back.

A neutral spine works best for the Smith machine deadlift and it can be maintained by keeping your head in a solid position throughout the movement.

ROUNDING YOUR SHOULDERS

This can put a lot of strain on your spine, ruining your posture and alignment.

Pull your shoulder blades back to help you maintain proper form so that your chances of injuring your spine are minimized.

MOVING THE BAR FAR FROM YOUR SHINS

The bar should not move more than  one inch away from your shins; a closer distance between the two prevents the bar from getting in contact with your shins and your back from arching.

WRAPPING UP

There’s a lot of controversy surrounding the question of whether or not it is possible to deadlift effectively and safely on a Smith machine.

If everything that has been discussed in this article is anything to go by, there’s no doubt your answer would be in the affirmative.

Just to reiterate, there are a few risks associated with doing a deadlift on a Smith machine, but so are there with every other machine if you don’t use them correctly.

So, if you want to get the most out of the Smith machine deadlift while minimizing as much as possible your chances of injury, follow the steps described in here and you’ll be good to go!

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