If you’ve ever worked out in a gym or fitness facility, chances are you have seen a Smith Machine. In my opinion with over twenty years working out and thousands of personal training sessions under my belt, the Smith Machine is one of the most useful pieces of workout equipment that a gym or fitness facility can offer. There are dozens of exercises that can work every major muscle group using this single workout machine. In this article we’ll take a look at three unique exercises that can be done on the Smith Machine that will help to strengthen and tone the chest muscles.
It’s helpful when working the chest muscles to keep in mind that different angles of lifting pull in different areas of the chest muscles. Lifting movements that target the chest muscles are typically done at an incline, decline, or flat. The Smith Machine can accommodate all three of these angles in different ways. By working all three different angles, a lifter can ensure that he or she is targeting all areas of the chest muscles and not just one. Lifting at different angles ensures that the main part of the pectoral muscles, as well as the clavicular pectoralis, are all sufficiently worked. Having said that, let’s take a look at three great exercises that will work all the main areas of the pectoral muscles.
Smith Machine Pushups
Smith Machine Pushups are one of my favorite chest exercises for several reasons. First, virtually anyone can do them if the proper angle is selected for the bar. Secondly, it requires little skill and the movement is simple and easy to master. Third, as a person’s muscles fatigue, the angle can be adjusted so that further repetitions can be done.
The Smith Machine Pushup is done in a similar manner that a standard pushup is performed. The main difference with this exercise is that the person holds onto the bar and lowers him or herself toward the bar, rather than directly down toward the floor. The person doing the movement begins by standing back away from the bar. Grabbing the bar at shoulder width or a few inches wider, a person then lowers themselves in a slow and controlled manner, very similar to a normal pushup. The higher up the bar is raised, the easier the movement becomes. Additionally, the higher the bar is raised, the more the lower pectoral muscles are forced to work to facilitate the movement.
Smith Machine Bench Press Dropset
The Smith Machine Bench Press Dropset is an intense exercise that will leave a person’s muscles extremely fatiqued. It is an excellent means of taking the pectoral muscles to failure, which in turn helps to bring about increases in size and strength. This exercise is done by bringing a free standing bench underneath the Smith Machine bar. Once a lifter positions him or herself in the proper position, the bar is lowered to the mid part of the chest, just as with a normal bench press. The main difference with a Smith Machine Bench press as opposed to a normal bench press is that the weights range of motion is controlled when using the Smith Machine. This is not so when doing a free weight bench press, where the lifter must control the weight along all planes of motion in addition to lifting it. The Smith Machine still has great benefits however. Because the lifter does not have to actually control the weight, along with the machines naturally built in assistance with the cables, most lifters will note they can lift noticeably more on a Smith Machine bench press versus a free weight bench press.
Before actually doing the Smith Machine bench press drop set, a lifter must decide how much weight they want to start with, and then load the bar up in weight increments. These weight increments are necessary because as the person doing the lift reaches muscular failure, additional plates are then taken off and the lifter continues to do repetitions until the next point of muscular failure is reached. A spotter is necessary for this exercise and the lifter should not be underneath the bar while the weights are being changed.
An example of a Smith Machine Bench Press Drop Set would be if an experienced lifter loaded up the Smith Machine with two hundred pounds of weight, consisting of four twenty five pound plates on each side. The lifter gets into position with his spotter carefully spotting the exercise the whole time. The lifter is able to get out six repetitions until he reaches muscular failure. At that time, he re-racks the bar, moves out from underneath it, and he and the spotter each unload one twenty five pound plate on each side. The lifter and spotter return to their positions and the lifter then is able to get another six repetitions out. The lifter and spotter can again repeat the procedure, or decide to rest after doing one “drop” of weight. Obviously, the more “drops” in weight that are done, the more intense the overall exercise is.
Incline Bench Press Dropset
Another fantastic way of working the chest muscles is to incorporate the same dropset principle done for the standard bench press into the incline press. For this exercise, the same principles apply. A responsible spotter is still used, and the weights are still reduced or “dropped” each time a lifter reaches muscular failure. The lifter should not be underneath the bar when the weights are being changed for added safety, and a spotter must always be used for this exercise. The major difference in doing the incline bench press dropset compared to the flat bench press dropset relates to which part of the muscle is targeted. In the Incline bench press, the clavicular pectoralis is pulled in more to do the work. This area of the pectoral muscle is up near the clavicle bones, as the name implies. By doing the incline bench press, one ensures that they are not lacking in any area of chest development. The incline chest bench press dropset is an intense way to ensure the upper area of the chest is worked.
The Smith Machine enables a user to engage in some great chest building exercises. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that because the Smith Machine operates on a guided track that you don’t need a spotter. A spotter should always be used when engaging in lifts that involve raising weight over the body using the Smith Machine. If your unsure how to do a specific exercise, make sure to consult with a good certified personal trainer. For a relatively small amount of money, you can help ensure that you are doing the movements correctly, ensuring maximum results while staying safe. Also, talk with your doctor before engaging in any workout program. It’s important that you know of any restrictions or precautions that you should take based on your own personal background. Good luck in your quest for fitness and make sure to check back for more fitness related articles.