The Smith machine isn’t just for squats and presses. It’s a versatile machine that can benefit your entire body, especially your backside. With the help of IFBB Bikini Olympia Champion Ashley Kaltwasser, we will show you how to have a killer booty-building workout with just one piece of equipment. It’s perfect for those days when you need a time-efficient workout, the gym is too packed for your taste or you just need a change of pace.
DO YOU LOVE SMITH?
There are a number of free-weight purists who have little love for the Smith, in part because its fixed straight up and down movement doesn’t mimic the natural motion of the squat or other various pressing moves. This is true. However, this fixed motion also provides benefits that can be harnessed for our training advantage. Here are a few reasons to love the Smith machine:
Stability. This one cuts both ways. Because the Smith is fixed horizontally, it provides more stability than free weights. This is good in that you can focus on the muscle you are trying to target more than challenging your stabilizers. However, strong stabilizers are critical for a healthy, functional body, so one could see this as a drawback as well. The bottom line? Use the Smith strategically, not all the time, to get a balance of both.
Focus On Feel. As mentioned above, because the Smith is stable, it’s a great machine to help individuals focus on feeling the muscle working. When one tries new exercises or is new to the gym altogether, making the connection to the muscles being targeted can be challenging. Simplifying the movements by eliminating the need to stabilize can help one learn how a movement should feel.
Form Adjustments. Another benefit of the Smith’s stability is that it enables you to adjust your body position in ways you couldn’t with free weights. For example, you can move your feet a little forward in a squat and lengthen a lunge to ease the joints and target the glutes/hams.
One-stop Shop. There are times when you need a “get in and get out” workout. Being able to stick to one piece of equipment for a workout is an effective way to save time— the versatility of the Smith allows you to do just that.
Built-in Spotter. If you need to quickly bail on a set, it is easy to re-rack with the Smith. Just flip your wrists and you can rack the weight no matter where you are in the movement. This is a reassuring benefit for those who want to challenge themselves to lift heavier and don’t have a spot.
Variation. While some people religiously stick to certain pieces of equipment and exercises for their workouts, most of us prefer new stimulus regularly for our training. It keeps our minds interested and our bodies challenged. The Smith machine is a great tool to add to your training arsenal.
GET IT RIGHT
Position bar so it rests across the back of the shoulders/traps. Walk your feet forward a foot or so. Unlatch the bar and lower into a deep squat (parallel or a little below). Pressing through heels, drive back up to the starting position.
SMITH BENEFIT: The Smith allows you to adjust your body position (feet more forward) to ease the joints and focus the work in the glutes and hamstrings.
Center a bench or box under the bar. Standing on the bench/box with your feet a few inches apart and the bar, unlatch the bar and bend at the hips to lower the bar down. Focus your weight in your heels and push your butt to the back wall. To ascend up, contract the glutes and push your hips forward. Make sure to keep your back straight throughout the movement.
SMITH BENEFIT: Because the bar is fixed horizontally, you can use the bar as leverage when pushing your glutes back on the descent to enable a deeper stretch in the butt and hamstrings, increasing the range of motion.
Bulgarian Split Squat
Place a bench or box a few feet behind the bar. Rest the bar across the back of your shoulders/traps and place the top of one foot on the box. Adjust the front foot forward to a comfortable lunge position. Keeping your torso upright, bend the front knee until your thigh is parallel to the floor. Make sure the front knee stays behind the toes. Finish the rep by pushing through the front heel to ascend up.
SMITH BENEFIT: Stabilizing is usually a challenge with this move, but that isn’t the case with the Smith. The stable bar enables you to focus more effort on driving hard through the front heel to target the glutes and hamstrings. Also, the Smith allows you to more comfortably take a longer lunge stance, which for some facilitates a better glute/ham workout and is easier on the knees.
Standing on an aerobics bench with one foot hanging off, rest the bar across the back of your shoulders/traps. Unlatch the bar and descend into a squat, lifting the non-working leg forward as you lower down. Pressing through the heel, ascend up out of the squat.
SMITH BENEFIT: Pistol squats are very difficult. Some of the fittest people can’t accomplish this move with free weights or bodyweight. The Smith provides the stability so you can perform this move and build up unilateral squat strength, which may help you progress to the bodyweight version.
Alternating Reverse Lunge
Position bar on the back of the shoulders/traps and stand with your feet together. Unlatch the bar and step back with one foot to lower into a reverse lunge. The back knee should almost touch the ground. Then, while bringing the back leg forward to the starting position, push through the front foot heel to straighten the leg. Repeat, stepping back with the other leg.
SMITH BENEFIT: Because of the Smith’s stability, it’s easier to lengthen and deepen the lunge to increase range of motion.
Quadrupled Hip Extension
Position the bar at about knee height. Get on your hands and knees and lift one foot straight up and place the arch of the foot on the bar. Adjust your body position to find the right angle. Unlatch the bar (you may need a friend to assist) and drive the foot up to the ceiling. Squeeze the glute and hold at the top for a count, then lower the bar back down.
SMITH BENEFIT: Without the Smith, adding resistance to the move is a challenge, as sufficiently heavy ankle weights are hard to come by and holding a dumbbell behind the knee is awkward and limits range of motion.
Check out Ashley’s “Keep it Fresh” column at FitnessRxWomen.com for her fun and flavorful fit living tips. You can also find her on Facebook (/BikiniProAshley), Twitter (@AshleyKFit) and Instagram (AshleyKfit). Ashley can be contacted for appearances through www.fmg-fitnessmanagementgroup.com.