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Smith Machine Workout -The Ultimate Routine To Build Size & Strength With A Smith Machine

The Ultimate Smith Machine Workout

When it comes to building muscle and strength I'm a big adovate of the power rack/squat.
Nothing compares to heavy freeweight barbell movements... the sheer core strength you can build from heavy barbell squats is unparalleled to any sit-up or plank variation.

But what if you don't have access to a squat rack or power rack?

What if you don't have a spotter while you bench press in the power rack?

What if you're lacking the confidence to bail out of a heavy back squat by yourself?

That's where the smith machine comes in.

Let's be honest - it's not ideal but it's better than nothing.

Far too many guys fail to start a workout regime because they don't have the ideal gym or they lack one or two pieces of exercise equipment.

Instead of working with what they have they whinge and make excuses.

They ultimately never start.

The smith machine workout below will transform your physique and have you building strength in no-time provided you follow it precisely...

First Of All, What's The Deal With The Smith Machine...?

The smith machine is essentially a barbell locked into a rack with a fixed plane of movement.
The barbell goes straight up and straight down - twisting your wrists on the barbell will lock the bar in at one of many points - allowing us a ton of versatility with the starting and finishing position of each exercise in our smith machine workout.

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The majority of serious gym-goers scoff at the smith machine's fixed plane of movement, but for this exact reason the smith machine has several benefits over freeweights...

Let's take a look at the pros and cons of the smith machine before we delve into the smith machine exercises and workout itself...

Pros of Using the Smith Machine

You Can Move More Weight!

Progressive overload is the key to increases in both size and strength, if you're constantly pushing the same weight for the same number of reps you're not going to get particularly far...
As the barbell of the smith machine is locked in we're able to focus on pushing/pulling the barbell as we're no longer required to stabilize the weight.

You Can Bench/Squat With Confidence

More often than not when we're lifting in the squat rack or power rack without a spotter we're mentally holding ourselves back.
We don't add on that extra weight that we're due to, we don't grind out those last few repetitions due to fear of failure, due to fear of having to bail out of the set if things go bad...
When you're lifting in the smith machine we can re-rack the barbell at any moment as there are a plethora of 'rungs' to re-rack the barbell on to.

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This alone inspires confidence.

Stuck at the bottom of your squat? No problems.

Unable to drive the barbell back up from the half-way point of your bench press? No problems.

Simply twist your wrists and re-rack the bar.

You Can Hit Negatives & Forced Reps

We're substantially stronger on the eccentric portion of exercises than we are on the concentric portion - for example if you can rep out 225lbs on your flat barbell bench press chances are you'll be able to perform eccentric repetitions with around 315lbs.

Once again, these negatives and forced reps are a great way to apply progressive overload which is far easier and safer to do in the smith machine.

You Can Build Strength & Break Plateaus With Partial Repetitions

Struggling to get out of the 'hole' when squatting? Having trouble locking out at the top of your bench press?

As we can un-rack and re-rack the barbell at almost any height in the smith machine this makes it perfect for working on those partial movements which you find to be your sticking points.

You're Risk Of Injury Is Lower

Many-a-gym-goer have injured their lower backs when squatting too heavy with questionable form just like many have injured their shoulder/rotator cuffs from benching incorrectly.

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As your barbell is locked in when lifting in the smith machine all you have to do is focus on moving the weight up or moving the weight down - there's no chance of driving the barbell on an incorrect path (and hurting yourself as a result!).

Am I advising you to throw form out the window and jump on the smith machine? Not quite!

Cons of Using the Smith Machine

You're Limited In Terms of Exercises/Muscle Groups

If all you've got is a smith machine and you want to hit a big arm workout you're probably not going to get very far...

Pressing, rowing and squatting movements can also be performed fairly well in the smith machine - but targeting muscle groups such as the biceps being extremely difficult and limited.

The Movements Aren't Completely 'Natural' 

When performing exercises with a barbell the path of the barbell works around our body - i.e. when performing the flat bench press we lower the barbell to midway down our chest at the bottom of the repetition, while finishing the repetition by locking the barbell out overhead. This natural bench pressing movement cannot be replicated on the smith machine as it is outside the plane of movement.

You're Not Engaging Your Stabilizer Muscles

If you're only using the smith machine you won't be honing in on the stabilizer muscles required to stabilize both yourself and the weight you're lifting.

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The Smith Machine Exercises I Recommend...

Putting It All Together... My  Recommended Smith Machine Workout

Full Body Smith Machine Workout

As we're limited in terms of exercises for each muscle group I recommend hitting a full body smith machine workout threes times per week instead of spending one workout isolating each body-part.


  • Barbell Back Squat - 4 sets - 5 to 8 reps
  • Flat Barbell Press - 4 sets - 5 to 8 reps
  • Seated Overhead Press - 4 sets - 5 to 8 reps
  • Bent Over Row - 4 sets - 5 to 8 reps
  • Drag Curl - 2 sets - 10 to 12 reps
  • Close Grip Bench Press - 2 sets - 10 to 12 reps


  • Barbell Back Squat - 4 sets - 5 to 8 reps
  • Flat Barbell Press - 4 sets - 5 to 8 reps
  • Seated Overhead Press - 4 sets - 5 to 8 reps
  • Bent Over Row - 4 sets - 5 to 8 reps
  • Drag Curl - 2 sets - 10 to 12 reps
  • Close Grip Bench Press - 2 sets - 10 to 12 reps


  • Barbell Back Squat - 4 sets - 5 to 8 reps
  • Flat Barbell Press - 4 sets - 5 to 8 reps
  • Seated Overhead Press - 4 sets - 5 to 8 reps
  • Bent Over Row - 4 sets - 5 to 8 reps
  • Drag Curl - 2 sets - 10 to 12 reps
  • Close Grip Bench Press - 2 sets - 10 to 12 reps

What's Your Take On This Smith Machine Workout? Let Me Know Below! 

Scott J.
Scott J.
I’m SJ. I’m a fitness enthusiast and published author. I transformed my body from a skinny fat 135lbs with 18% body fat to a solid 192lbs at 8% body fat. I became qualified in a field I was passionate about. I founded several online businesses that allow me to pursue ideas and projects in my life that I am passionate about without having to constantly worry about money. I published several eBooks explaining the training and dieting techniques I used to achieve the body I have today. I learnt a plethora of new information on dieting and fitness by reading and applying what I read, to find out what does work and what doesn’t work, because as I’m sure you’ve noticed the health and fitness industry is full of non-sense claims and BS. I found out what was true and what worked for me and applied that knowledge. And you bet I had fun during the whole process.

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