For those wondering if it's better to squat on a Squat Rack or a Smith Machine, we have the answer.
What are Squats?
Squats have been a significant part of any exercise routine throughout the history of man’s interest in working out. Strong legs and quads on a warrior showcased their agility and the power to absorb energy from the earth.
Squats, if you're up for it, can be performed in a number of variations. However, the core target muscle, when it comes to squats, remains the same - the glutes! Of course, there are modifications that help you target other muscle groups along with the glutes.
Some of the variants include the overhead squat, Zercher squat, Hindi squat, etc. As long as the squats you're doing don't put much of a strain on the knees, you're good to go.
Squats on Smith Machine
Smith machines can be found universally in any gym out there. They are a great and safe way to work out different muscle groups in our body without needing a spotter. Some smith machines are angled, while some are straight. According to experts, it’s recommended you opt for an angled smith machine whenever possible.
Let’s discuss the benefits and disadvantages of performing squats on a smith machine.
Less Strength Required: It’s generally easy to squat heavier weights on a smith machine since the machine takes care of most of the weight for you.
You must subtract around 20-40lbs from your stacked weight from the smith machine in order to get a correct estimate of the weight you’re squatting.
- More Reps: It’s easy to crunch in as many reps as you want on a smith machine. The machine keeps you stable and helps you keep the weight away from your shoulder.
Since the motion is smooth, one can efficiently perform way more squats on a smith machine than a squat rack (which we will talk about in a bit). Some bodybuilders prefer doing more reps since it shapes the muscle more efficiently.
No Spotter Required: You can perform squats on a smith machine without calling in any spotter at all. Smith Machines have safety locks that can be used at any moment of its motion.
Safety: One of the most significant advantages of a smith machine is its safety. Smith machines were designed to eradicate injuries caused by free weight gym equipment.
These injuries are deadly; some can take years to heal, while others might even turn out to be crippling. A smith machine ensures the safety of its user by implementing the ‘safety lock’ feature.
- Compromises Form: Straight smith machines can give rise to a terrible form while performing squats. Instead of putting the load on your glutes, you might end up putting all of the weight on your knees or back. This can be really dangerous for your overall safety.
- Reduced Motion: A smith machine opposes the natural depth and motion of a squat. It forces the user to follow its own trajectory. This significantly reduces motion and essentially makes the entire workout meaningless since the range of motion was compromised (if you don't know how to use such equipment properly).
Squats on a Squat Rack:
Squat racks are part of gyms and powerlifting arenas. Squat racks are primarily only intended for squats and aren't recommended to be used for any other exercises except back rows.
Let's dive into the well-researched benefits and disadvantages of performing squats on a squat rack.
Maximum Range of Motion: Squat racks allow the user to exert a maximum range of motion. It doesn’t guide the user to follow any trajectory, unlike the smith machine. It allows the user to put a lot of force on their glutes.
- Real Strength: Unlike the smith machine, the strength gains on a squat rack are considered “real” by certain experts since there’s no additional support present on this machine, and the entire weight falls on you.
- Spotter Required: Unless you’re a pro, you can’t perform a squat on the squat rack without the help of a spotter. There are no safety mechanisms when it comes to squat racks. The injuries can be painful and take a long time to heal.
Wrapping It UpWhen it comes to squatting using a squat rack or a smith machine, it all depends on what suits you better. If you happen to be a 'workout' beginner, you should start with the smith machine. However, if you have prior lifting experience (and have a spotter around), you should opt for the squat rack.