The Smith Machine: It’s Not Just for Bench Presses!

I love changing up my workout by incorporating the Smith machine once in a while.The Smith is a popular machine at the gym that most people use to work the chest and shoulders. It has a barbell fixed to a rack with a counter balance cable system. That cable system allows you to increase weight on certain exercises safely without a spotter. But Mr. Smith is a popular guy, so if you like to work out circuit-style (which I most certainly do) then you can easily loose your place while you jump over to a different exercise. So, I created a three exercise sequence that uses the Smith machine, so that you can work in a circuit (hello, calorie burn!), and not lose your place.

The Circuit

8-12 reps of each for at least 3 sets. Or if you really want to be a machine-hog, go for AMSAP, As Many Sets As Possible

Smith machine inverted pull up

Chest press

Reverse crunch of bench

Make sure you warm up and that the warm up includes push ups!

1.  The Inverted Pull up

This is my favorite because it strengthens the muscles of the back and can be easily modified for any fitness level. You’re going to have to push the bench over to the side. Set the bar to about hip height. Position your body under the bar, with your hands positioned slightly wider than shoulder distance. Your hands can either face you, or face away. Either way, it’s all go

od. You should do both if you can. If you are intermediate or advanced, get into an inverted plank position with only your heels touching the floor.  Beginners will reap the

benefit of the exercise by having their feet flat on the floor with knees bent. From that start position, pull yourself toward the bar until it touches your chest (or as close as you can get). Lower down with control and repeat.

Inverted pullup

2. The “bench press”


Please note: I prefer push ups and dumb bell presses to work the chest. Those exercises utilize more stabilizing muscles and are a lot more functional. BUT this IS the Smith machine workout so

The Smith “Bench”  is not a true bench press, but is a pretty good substitution. Get the bench back into position in the center of the bar. Put the bar in a place so that when you lay on the bench, you can easily pop it out of the safety. Load the bar with your desired weight. Laying on the bench, position your body so that the bar is over your chest, and place your hands a bit wider than shoulder width apart. Unlock the bar and hold it in place with your arms extended. As you inhale, slowly lower the bar to your chest. Pause, then exhale as you press up to the first position (arms fully extended). The pause is important, as it ensures you are not using momentum.

3. Reverse Crunch on the Bench

You’ll have to lift the bar high for this so that it doesn’t get in your way. Or you can just push the bench back a bit. With your back flat against the bench, grasp the top of it with both hands. Bend your knees to 90 degrees and lift your feet and hips to your chest. With control, and without letting your spine lift off the bench, lower  the hips back down towards the bench. Start the next rep right before your hips touch the bench.

Keep your spine is neutral against the bench as you lower your legs!

Beginners, you can bend your knees to make this easier

Take a brief rest between sets. Don’t forget to let me know how it goes!

16,149 thoughts on “The Smith Machine: It’s Not Just for Bench Presses!