Barbell and dumbbell workouts not working out? Free weight lifting too costly on the joints? Well, you might want to try your luck on the Smith machine, a fool-proof, free weight-bearing mechanical spotter. The Smith machine adds freshness to a stalemate routine and lift assists for any gym-goer wanting a break from the free-weight frenzy. Smith machine workouts can introduce large muscles to a new form of exercise.
Row, Row, Row Your Back
Exercising the back requires pulling so how is it possible to pull using an up and down machine? A bent over row, that's how. Stand facing the Smith machine bar making sure it is as low as it goes. Bend at the waist over the bar, keeping the back straight while knees are slightly bent -- straight knees can cause low back injury, according to ExRx.net. With a wider-than-shoulder-width overhand grip, pull the bar up toward the bottom of the rib cage while exhaling. Inhale while lowering the bar to start position until three sets of 15 are complete.
Best For the Chest
Back exercises predominantly pull, while chest exercises mostly push. A pushup on the Smith machine ranges from rough n' tough to easy breezy. Adjust the bar so that it is a few notches from the bottom -- lower than limbo standards. The higher the bar, the easier the pushup. Lean on the bar so the body is at a 45-degree angle and arms are straight and wider-than-shoulder-width apart. Bend the elbows until the chest meets the bar, exhale back to start position. Complete three sets of 15 repetitions.
Plunge Into a Lunge
The Smith machine is a mandatory companion to single leg lunges, a.k.a. single leg split squats. Place a bench or foot stool behind the Smith bar. Position the bar behind the neck and plant the back foot on the bench. Lunge down until the front leg forms a 90-degree angle and the top of the leg is parallel to the floor. Exhale up to the starting position, breathing a sign of relief when each leg completes three sets of 15 repetitions. Deal with the negatives: sore muscles for a few days, and then enjoy the positive: a dashing derriere!
Shouldering the Smith
Pull up a seat and enjoy the show. No, really, pull up a seat and situate it under the Smith bar. Make sure the bar is in front of the shoulders and hands are slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Exhale while pushing the bar up until full arm extension. Come back down to start position with an inhale. Impress your gym buddies by completing three sets of 15 military presses.
Workout Over and Out
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As with any new workout, start off without adding weight to the bar. Slowly add 2- to 5-pound increments when comfortable. If additional weight compromises posture and form, skip the weight and add more repetitions. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends a one-count when coming down or going with gravity and a two-three-count when pushing up, exhaling, or going against gravity. Warm up before and stretch after working out.
Melissa Hannah has a Master of Science in kinesiology and Bachelor of Science in nutrition. The nutrition degree gave her the opportunity to help individuals learn how to eat healthy while the kinesiology degree helped tie in the exercise component. Hannah wrote health-related newsletters and lesson plans for a wellness company, and designed a nutrition resource website for a university wellness program.