Good Workouts for the Chest & Back Using Smith Machines

Smith machines offer a variety of chest and back workouts.
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The Smith machine is a one-stop shop for a total body workout, without the worry of dropping the barbell on your head. The Smith machine allows you to safely lift heavy loads along withvexercise versatility, according to However, the Smith machine does not recruit as many muscle fibers as dumbbells or barbells because your muscles are not actively stabilizing the weights. If you need to get in and out of the gym, yet still complete a total upper body workout, the Smith Machine is the way to go.


    The three different chest presses ideal for the Smith machine include incline, decline and flat presses. To perform decline presses, lower the top of an adjustable bench all the way to the ground and place it under the bar so that your chest is directly under the bar. Adjust the bench so it is flat to do horizontal presses. Raise the top of the bench as high as it will go to do incline presses. For a unilateral workout, try these exercises with a lighter weight, only using one arm. This is a more challenging as it isolates each side of the body.


    For a traditional row, stand in the rack facing the bar with your chest over the top of the bar and parallel to the ground. Grab the bar in an overhand or underhand grip, and pull it to the base of your rib cage. For a single arm row, stand next to the bar with your left side closest to the bar and chest parallel to the ground. Grab the bar with your left hand pull it up as high as you can, until your hand reaches hip level. Finally, try an inverted row by lying under the bar with legs straight out. Grab the bar and pull yourself up. Place the bar lower for more of a challenge.


    Negative contractions or eccentric contractions happen when you lower the barbell very slowly. Incorporating negative contractions increases muscular strength better than traditional exercises because they overload muscles, according to an article written by Dr. Len Kravitz of the University of New Mexico. On a Smith machine, do negatives by placing a heavy load on the bar, and then push it up with both hands. On the downward movement, only use one hand and lower it for a full five to 10 seconds. Do three to five sets of five to eight repetitions on each arm. Add negatives into your workouts once or twice a month.


    For building strength, the National Strength and Conditioning Association recommends lifting a heavier weight that fatigues your muscles in about five to eight reps, for three to five sets. Rest for one to two minute between sets. For muscle growth, perform eight to 12 reps, for three to four sets, with a one-minute rest. If your goal is muscular endurance and toning, do 15 to 20 reps for three sets with no more than 30 seconds rest. Do at least one chest and one back workout per week.

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