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Many people in the industry unfairly dis the smith machine. I’m a barbell guy through and through, but you can get a darn good glute workout using just the smith machine. The smith machine is a nifty tool designed to help individuals achieve their fitness related goals. It assists with balance, which can be a pro or a con depending on the circumstance.

FYI – I like the pure vertical smith machines much better than the angled ones that I use in the video. The prone and quadruped movements shown at the end would require a spotter to ensure the bar doesn’t twist and rack itself.

Sometimes training in the smith machine is preferred due to logistics, perception of safety, or convenience, which is fine. Here’s a list of the 14 exercises shown in the video:

1. Back squat
2. Reverse lunge
3. Hip punch
4. Good morning
5. Static lunge
6. Front squat
7. American deadlift
8. Lying leg press
9. Hip thrust
10. Frog thrust
11. Single leg hip thrust
12. Single leg glute bridge
13. Bent leg reverse hyper
14. Quadruped kickback

A majority of pro bodybuilders and bikini competitors use the smith machine in their training. Several world record powerlifters and strongmen supplement their barbell training with smith machine work. I’ve measured the EMG activity between barbell and smith machine exercises and the difference in glute activity is not dramatic. Traditional barbell has an advantage, but it’s not nearly as high as people assume. Most people train for aesthetics, not function. Barbell is probably superior to smith machine training for functional outcomes, but even so, smith machine training would still improve functional performance if you put in the time and gain considerable strength. You can make the movements feel pretty close to their barbell counterparts if you set up similarly and concentrate. In general, I prefer that you perform barbell exercises over the smith machine if you have the option. But don’t avoid the smith machine altogether if you find it to be effective, safe, and/or convenient.



  • Heidi says:

    Excelent execises !!

    Thank you so much!

  • Pamela says:

    Excellent video, this give me great possibilities to work out with smith machine, thanks so much for the video, excellent!

  • Lari says:

    Nice video and music man!

  • Matt w says:

    To Bret,
    It is probably not original, but try this one. lie on your stomach with your legs forming a slight ‘v’. Flex your knees upward behind you. Now ‘clap’ your feet together as many times as possible. Great feeling in glutes. Not sure if it is safe, but I experienced any pain afterwards.

  • Holly says:

    Thanks Bret! The gym I belong to doesn’t have any barbells over 60# so the Smith Machine is really my only option if I want to lift heavy. This is so helpful!

  • Jorge says:

    Hi Bret! I wanted to asked you in which situations would you rather pick the smith machine over the free weight. If i’m not wrong, smith squat produces higher shear forces y less muscle activation than the free weight one. Then, if we can get more from the free weight version, which is the ideal situation for the smith usage? Also,I have no data about other smith variations compared to the free weight versions. If you know any good researches about this I’d love to know about them so I can look for them. Thanks in advance.

  • Margaret says:

    Hi Bret, is vertical leg press more leg or glutes exercise? I never feel it in my buttocks but my quads are burning.

  • Anto Marton says:

    Thanks Bret! I agree that most people train for aesthetics (good looks). Can’t blame em haha! Nice to know that barbell training is slightly superior for function.

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