The Five Biggest Contradictions in Fitness
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The Five Biggest Contradictions in Fitness

Itís no secret that when people contradict themselves, it has the effect of making the flaws in their actions or statements seem glaringly obvious. But what about when WE ourselves get caught contradicting ourselves by someone else?

By: Nick Tumminello Added: January 6th, 2014
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  1. #1
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    what is so bad about training in smith machine??

    I just dont know why...people tell me to stay away from it. Just want to know why..Hope someone help me out.
    Thank you

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  3. #2
    Senior Member davetha1's Avatar
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    You basically limit your overall potential in a smith machine. When you have to balance the weights yourself you use more muscles & stabilizers which in essence will make you bigger.

  4. #3
    Trying to figure this out JohnCollins's Avatar
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    Excuse me while I go get my motorcycle helmet. . .

    Ok, I'm back. Rookie, you ain't gonna believe what's gonna happen next, get ready for the screaming and the shouting.

    There is NOTHING wrong with using the smith machine, especially for a beginner. The smith machine is DIFFERENT from using just a bar. Free squatting without a smith is a little more effective at building more muscle, almost nobody disputes that. However, if you are a beginner and possibly not too strong yet, a smith machine adds an element of safety.

    When squatting, balancing that bar on your shoulders brings more muscles into play and that causes more overall muscle growth. It is definitely more taxing than using a smith. But you CAN twist a little bit or make just the tiniest wrong move and then your back is in a world of hurt. Not that you WILL, but you can. With the bar solidly on the tracks in the smith machine, you can hurt your back, but it is simply much harder to do. Many people mistakenly believe the saftey in the smith is that you can move the safety catches up so you don't get crushed if you lose it on the lift and they say the cage does the same thing and is therefore just as safe. That's not the issue, not getting crushed. It's keeping from hurting your back and the tracks help with that.

    Now, I'm not saying the cage is dangerous or that the smith is better. The debate which is SURE to follow this will be long and loud and folks will primarily argue that the cage is the only way to go and the smith is simply awful. I'm saying the differences are more minor than folks make them out to be. It's just not that big a deal. Free squatting in a cage is more effective, no arguments there, but squatting in a smith will build muscle. The smith is slightly safer for your back and you'll get lots of argument there. But if you've ever thrown your back out lifting something or just moving a funny way, you'll know I'm right once you try squatting both ways. Again, not a big difference, and the exercise is fairly safe when DONE RIGHT. But it's simply tougher to go wrong in a way that hurts your back in a smith, that's all.

    Now this assumes proper form in both situations. Much of the argument which will follow will revolve around folks doing stupid things in the smith machine (which you definitely can do, believe me). You want to keep your feet placed about the same way in a smith machine as you would free squatting and have an experienced squatter check your form. But if you are doing it right, the smith is fine. One thing you can do wrong is keep your back too straight and your knees will go way ahead of your knees. Concentrate on that sitting back in a chair motion and keep your form strict and you'll be fine. Done RIGHT, there is no difference in shear forces on the knees. If done wrong, however, it can be bad for your knees.

    Now, having said that a smith might be good for a beginner, a cage might be fine if you are already in good shape and have a good training partner, and I think moving from the smith to a cage is a natural progression as you get stronger and more confident.

    There's not a lot of difference, and even though I think you may eventually want to move to a cage, don't listen to the folks that say you're nuts for using a smith machine, ESPECIALLY if you are not in great shape as you begin your training. Use one and be happy about it. After you get to where you're confidently squatting some good weight and feel good about your progress, try a cage. Drop the weight then and have that aforementioned training partner around, but try one. Then make your choice as to where to go next.

    My 2 cents. Going to my fortified bunker now.

    JC
    Last edited by JohnCollins; 06-19-2002 at 05:18 AM.

  5. #4
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    Why do people who gripe about machines use barbells over dumbbells? Much easier to bench press 150lbs than to press the 75lb DB's. Why? More stabilization involved. Same thing with the Smith machine - much easier to Smith press 225 then to barbell press 225. Agreed you have to wastch out for injury, but otherwise, it seems like the Smith should be a great mass builder.

    *goes and jumps in JC's bunker*

  6. #5
    new and improved runt's Avatar
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    I totaly agree with JohnCollins. In addition there are some squat excersizes that you have to use the smith machine for such as a feet forward squat which is great for a change of pace when doing squats. Also a lot of guys at my gym use it as a bench press machine if they are working without a spotter. I pretty much use the cage all the time now but if it's in use and it looks like I'll have to wait a long time, the machine will do in a pinch.
    sometimes slowly

    My stats:
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    making the switch to power lifting

  7. #6
    Baby Seal Clubber ElPietro's Avatar
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    Smith machine is exactly that...a machine. There is a place in a routine for machines and a place for free weights. On compound exercises I'd rather use free weight than a machine as you are reducing the overall effect of the movement.
    Deadlifts are like women, they'll hurt you everytime, but they'll also make you a man. - Me

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  8. #7
    Wannabebig Member capinatl's Avatar
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    Smith Machines = device of the devil.

  9. #8
    eating out millertime's Avatar
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    Originally posted by davetha1
    You basically limit your overall potential in a smith machine. When you have to balance the weights yourself you use more muscles & stabilizers which in essence will make you bigger.
    :withstupi

  10. #9
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    I haven't thought this out much, b/c I primarily use free-weights, but it seems that by eliminating stabilization issues, machines allow for greater tension on the muscle, therefore the potential for MORE growth vs. not using them at all.

  11. #10
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    Myself, I use a mix of freeweights and smithmachine stuff, with a bias to freeweights, occasionally switching to smith for say, Bench or Squats or Shrugs either due to equipment availability or a desire for change.

    I find I can lift heavier in almost everything with smith, but I feel a more intense overall sensation from freeweights.

  12. #11
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    Mamma said the Smith Machine is the devil!

  13. #12
    Trying to figure this out JohnCollins's Avatar
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    My, my! This is much more pleasant than I anticipated it would be! What gentle posters we have. Boy have I gotten nuked on other exercise boards on this one!

    There you have it, Rookie! Free squatting is probably more effective but you can get your squatting "legs" in the smith and move on to the cage when you feel stronger and more experienced.

    About pressing without a spotter--I like dumbbells. I actually like using free weights, but I work out alone in my basement, I'm 46, and I ain't no Arnold S., so I'm pretty safety conscious. The dumbbells are hard to get in trouble with.

    I have a smith machine, and having had back problems in the past I'm glad I have it. I am getting stronger and will get a cage next and start squatting in it.

    Good luck!!
    JC

  14. #13
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    yo...thanks for replys..I do bench press in smith..and actually got a good result from it. when I bench with free bar,my triceps hit "dead" before the pecs..and you are right..when I go back to bench with free bar I can feel that I have to decrease the weight.
    If any of you read my previous post..you ll see that i have problem my knees sticking out while doing squat..I just thought that I'd better do squat in smith..
    thanks again
    Currently cutting

  15. #14
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    IMO the Smith Machine is actually better for close-grip benching than using a barbell. It really allows you to focus on the tri's and by taking the stabilizers out might eliminate growth in other body parts, but seeing as you are trying to hit tri's that isn't a problem.

  16. #15
    Trying to figure this out JohnCollins's Avatar
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    Rookies,

    About your knees--you need to use proper form no matter if you're squatting in a cage or on a smith. Your knees shouldn't be too far forward in either case, but because of the design of the smith machine you CAN do them in such a way that your knees are way out of line.

    Squats are not bad for knees, current research indicates they are good for your knees, but start with light weight, work up the weight slowly, this is not a race (easier for us old guys to follow that advice than you testerone laden younguns, I think) and you're not in competition with anyone but yourself. But get a good trainer to teach you how to squat properly, and right away.

    People can't analyze your knees, where your hips are, your back position from discussions on this thread. Have someone knowledgable look at you and they'll know in an instant how you're doing.

    JC

  17. #16
    Baby Seal Clubber ElPietro's Avatar
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    Originally posted by JohnCollins
    Squats are not bad for knees, current research indicates they are good for your knees, but start with light weight, work up the weight slowly, this is not a race (easier for us old guys to follow that advice than you testerone laden younguns, I think) and you're not in competition with anyone but yourself. But get a good trainer to teach you how to squat properly, and right away.
    Yes, many people overlook one of the biggest benefits of heavy weight training...and that is skeletal and joint health. If you are doing exercises with proper form and using a weight that isn't rediculous for your current level of strength the added stress to your skeletal system will allow your bones to react by growing stronger along with much of the tissue around your joints. This I think is one of the #1 benefits of heavy weight training as you get older. You see so many brittle old fogies out there that would break their hips if they tripped and fell because their bone density is so low...this is one way to prevent that from happening.
    Deadlifts are like women, they'll hurt you everytime, but they'll also make you a man. - Me

    Friends don't let friends do dumbell kickbacks. - Me

    ElP is the smartest man in the world. - Gyno Rhino

    A low voter turnout is an indication of fewer people going to the polls. -- Dan Quayle

    If do right, no can defense. -- Mr. Miyagi

    Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey:

    I can picture in my mind a world without war, a world without hate. And I can picture us attacking that world, because they'd never expect it.

    Is there anything more beautiful than a beautiful, beautiful flamingo, flying across in front of a beautiful sunset? And he's carrying a beautiful rose in his beak, and also he's carrying a very beautiful painting with his feet. And also, you're drunk.

    Current FFFA Enforcer

  18. #17
    Player Hater PowerManDL's Avatar
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    I have no problem with the Smith machine, or any machine, for certain movements.

    However, telling someone to train for the back squat via the Smith machine is not a good thing. For that matter, using any machine to develop a free-weight movement isn't good.

    Machines can be good for developing strength in specific muscle groups, but using them as technique trainers, no.

    A Smith squat is a totally different movement from a free-weight back squat; that being said, a newbie that wants to learn to squat needs to squat. If (s)he wants to learn to bench, he/she needs to bench. There's no way around it.

    For general strength and/or mass, machines are fine. For technique training, no.
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  19. #18
    Ex-Mod Jane's Avatar
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    What about a combination of both?
    *just brainstorming here*

    1. warm up
    2. 2 sets barbell squats
    ---8-12 rep range weight
    ---technique training: slow, deep, *perfect form*
    3. 2 sets smith squats
    ---6-8 rep range weight
    ---closer stance to target quads better
    ---more explosive movement

    ?
    Last edited by Jane; 06-19-2002 at 12:46 PM.
    "Then on leg day do squats, lunges, stiff legged deadlifts, fluffernutters, and calf raises."--Belial, training a newbie

    PowermanDL on Russian culture: "Big furry hats come into play somewhere."

    "The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value. I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress and grow brave by reflection. 'Tis the business of little minds to shrink; but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death." --Thomas Paine

  20. #19
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    Good post Powerman.

  21. #20
    Baby Seal Clubber ElPietro's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Jane
    What about a combination of both?
    *just brainstorming here*

    1. warm up
    2. 2 sets barbell squats
    ---8-12 rep range weight
    ---technique training: slow, deep, *perfect form*
    3. 2 sets smith squats
    ---6-8 rep range weight
    ---closer stance to target quads better
    ---more explosive movement

    ?
    I would say why not just do leg press at that point. Squats would be compound...after that if you are concerned with targeting the quads why bother with the smith machine at all. Leg press you could load even more weight on it and put more stress on the target muscle.
    Deadlifts are like women, they'll hurt you everytime, but they'll also make you a man. - Me

    Friends don't let friends do dumbell kickbacks. - Me

    ElP is the smartest man in the world. - Gyno Rhino

    A low voter turnout is an indication of fewer people going to the polls. -- Dan Quayle

    If do right, no can defense. -- Mr. Miyagi

    Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey:

    I can picture in my mind a world without war, a world without hate. And I can picture us attacking that world, because they'd never expect it.

    Is there anything more beautiful than a beautiful, beautiful flamingo, flying across in front of a beautiful sunset? And he's carrying a beautiful rose in his beak, and also he's carrying a very beautiful painting with his feet. And also, you're drunk.

    Current FFFA Enforcer

  22. #21
    Ex-Mod Jane's Avatar
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    You're right ElPietro. I guess the idea was to use smith machine to get used to at least the vertical motion of squats, and the bar on the back etc. But perhaps the similarities are really too few to make this a valid point...

    So it doesn't warrant a change in my routine.
    (I've been using barbell squats and leg press, and still having some form problems on squats)
    Last edited by Jane; 06-19-2002 at 12:54 PM.
    "Then on leg day do squats, lunges, stiff legged deadlifts, fluffernutters, and calf raises."--Belial, training a newbie

    PowermanDL on Russian culture: "Big furry hats come into play somewhere."

    "The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value. I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress and grow brave by reflection. 'Tis the business of little minds to shrink; but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death." --Thomas Paine

  23. #22
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    I use the Smith successfully, but not all the time.

    For example:

    When I have an injury to my joint(s), etc. (I Mountain Bike and crash from time-to-time) and need to rehab. whist still moving a heavy weight.

    When I get stuck on a "free"weight and need a mental boost. (throw additional pounds on the Smith and I get over the block of "I can't get past this weight")

    When there isn't a spotter available whom I trust.

    When I want to concentrate on FORM.

    I also have a feeling of security when using the Smith which allows for that additional rep. or two without the risk of injury.

    I figure the additional weight (always more than "frees" or it's not worth doing) moved on the Smith allows for an increase in intensity, thus negating the majority of the ill effects stated in earlier posts.
    Best Regards,

  24. #23
    Trying to figure this out JohnCollins's Avatar
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    PowerMan,

    You're right about the smith not being a good technique trainer, but I wasn't thinking about that. As an out-of-shape mid-40's guy who has had minor back problems, I think the smith was the right way for me to start, not because I wanted to learn technique, but because I wanted to gain strength with less probability of back issues.

    After six months, I'm down 20 lbs., which is likely down 30 lbs. of fat and up 10 lbs of muscle, and now I'm ready and confident to move on to free squats. Part of this might be because I've been training by myself at home, too. If I was at a gym with a good training partner I might not have gone that way.

    Anyway, I still think a newbie who is not in the best of shape and who maybe doesn't have a knowledgeable training partner probably will find it easier to stay out of trouble on a smith. Not a big difference, mind you, but it made me feel much safer, and I think a new lifter is more secure on one.

    The absolute best thing that could happen to Rookies, though, is that he joins a gym and stumbles into someone like you who takes him under his wing and trains him right. I actually thought about that aspect of a gym membership had before buying my stuff, and I think it's preferable to working at home, but my schedule wouldn't allow for it.

    Rookies, find a good trainer and go for it either way! Your knees will love you for it!

  25. #24
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    I'm training at a school gym...so there is no instructor to show me how to do it correctly...although I've watch numbers of clips..read numbers of exercise descriptions...but Its probably not the same..you are so right..
    so I think...I'm gonna get a membership at a fitness club. it's probably best..
    oh by the way..yesterday I found out the best thing to do after working out.I had a chest/back session..deadlife,etc...I almost crawled out of the gym..my friend persuaded me to go to a massage clinic..although I didnt have much money..I decided to go with him. And guess what!..IT IS HEAVENLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    It's the best 20$ I've ever spent..I cant descibe how great it felt. You just gotta try it..
    Currently cutting

  26. #25
    Proud Father Maki Riddington's Avatar
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    I brought this topic up awhile ago.

    Here it is:

    http://www.wannabebigforums.com/show...=smith+machine
    Last edited by Maki Riddington; 06-19-2002 at 05:49 PM.
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