30+ Best Smith Machine Exercises of all Time

The smith machine is one of the highly beneficial equipment in the gym. It allows you to do myriad exercises for each muscle and helps increase strength, endurance, and mass. I’ll share various smith machine exercises for total body training.

You can also create a smith machine full body workout routine according to your fitness level with these exercises. So whether you’re a beginner or intermediate, male or female, you can explore all these workouts for efficient training.

Let’s start with a quick list of all exercises.

Contents show

Smith Machine Exercise Chart with Free PDF

ChestBackArms
Flat Bench PressInverted RowNarrow Grip Bench Press
Incline Bench PressBent-over RowSkull crushers
Decline Bench PressConventional DeadliftSmith Machine Dips
Reverse Grip Bench PressSingle Arm RowBicep Curl
Landmine PressDrag Curl
Smith Machine Upper Body Workout
ShoulderCore
Overhead PressStanding Side Bend
Lateral RaisesLying Sit-ups
Upright RowHanging Knee Raises
ShrugHanging Leg Raises
45-Degree Incline RowDecline Crunches
QuadsHams, Glute, Calf
Back SquatRomanian Deadlift
Front SquatGood Mornings
Forward LungesReverse Lunge
Leg PressBarbell Hip Thrust
Bulgarian Split SquatStanding Calf Raises

Here’s the PDF:


Smith Machine Leg Exercises

When it comes to building a solid lower body, training each muscle becomes crucial. The smith machine is one of the best gym equipment that effectively strengthens quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves.

You can do the below smith machine exercises to build defined legs and glutes.

1. Smith Machine Back Squat

The back squat is a compound workout that helps shoot up strength and promote hypertrophy. It primarily works on the quadriceps but also engages the glutes and core.

Smith Machine Leg Exercises

The back squat allows you to use more load than other squat variations, which leads to more gain.

Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Put the desired weight into the rack and set it at an appropriate height.
  2. Then, get under the machine and place the bar on the back of your shoulders.
  3. Bring your feet slightly forward, stand upright in the shoulder-width stance and make sure your knees won’t cross your toes when you squat down. Keep your core and glutes tight. That’s the start.
  4. Pushing your hips back, slightly bend your knees to squat down until your glutes are parallel to the floor.
  5. Pressing through your feet, return to the standing position. That’s one rep!

2. Smith Machine Front Squat

Smith Machine Front Squat

The front squat highly engages the quadriceps and helps build up strength and muscles. However, it is slightly more challenging than the back squat because it requires you to put the bar on the front of your shoulder.

The front squat is performed nearly in the same way as the back squat. The primary differences between them are the bar, hips, and knees position.

During the front squat, you put the bar on the front of your shoulder instead of the back.

And the front squat requires you to bend your hips and knees entirely so your back stays straight throughout the movement.

3. Smith Machine Lunges

A lunge is an excellent lower body strengthening exercise that helps build strength and endurance, and boost athletic performance, such as jumping, running, and squatting.

Steps to perform a lunge on the smith machine:

  1. Get under the machine and place the bar on your shoulder.
  2. Take one step forward so you can stand in the staggered stance.
  3. Keep your back upright and brace your core and glutes. That’s the start.
  4. Bend your knees to go into the lunge position and ensure your knee doesn’t pass your toe.

4. Smith Machine Leg Press

The smith machine leg press is an advanced workout and a good alternative to the standard machine leg press machine. It helps swell up your quadriceps and solidify the entire lower body.

How to do it:

  1. Put the desired weight into the bar and set it at an appropriate height.
  2. Lie under the machine and keep your feet on the bar, hip-width apart. It would be best to put a footed platter on the bar to perform efficiently.
  3. Keep your abdominal muscles tight and press the bar until your hips and knees are extended. But avoid locking out your knees at the top.
  4. Now, slowly return to the start. Repeat for the desired number of times.

5. Smith Machine Bulgarian Split Squat

The Bulgarian split squat is one of the best squat variations that helps develop balance and strength. It works on various muscles simultaneously, such as the quad, glute, and hams, and enhances coordination.

How to do it:

  1. Put the bar on your shoulder and stand upright in the split stance with your feet 2-3 feet apart.
  2. Extend your rear leg behind you and place your toe on the bench, heel facing up.
  3. Keep your back straight and core tight; that’s the start.
  4. Lower into a squat position until your knees are bent to 90-degrees.
  5. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
  6. Try not to shift your weight too forward during the movement.

6. Smith Machine Romanian Deadlift

The Romanian deadlift is one of the highly effective workouts for strengthening posterior chain muscles, especially hamstrings and lower back. You can efficiently perform this exercise on the smith machine, irrespective of your fitness level.

How to do it:

  1. Put the suitable weight into the bar, stand straight with your feet hip-width apart and set the bar to your shin level. That’s the start.
  2. Pushing your hips back, lower yourself to grab the bar, and maintain a soft bend in your knees.
  3. Pressing through your heels, extend your hips until you return to the upright position.
  4. You’ll feel the work in your hams and glutes as you stand back.
Related: Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift

7. Smith Machine Good Mornings

The good Morning is a strength and conditioning workout that enhances strength, mobility, and coordination. It reinforces your posterior chain muscles, primarily hams and low back, and reduces the risk of injuries.

How to do it:

  1. Stand upright under the machine with your feet two times wider than hip-width apart.
  2. Place the bar on the back of your shoulder, brace your core, and hinge forward at your hips until your chest is parallel to the floor.
  3. Squeezing your hams and glutes, slowly extending your hips to return upright position.
  4. Perform as many sets and reps as you like.

8. Smith Machine Reverse Lunge

The reverse lunge is an excellent way to engage lower body muscles and helps increase mobility, strength, muscle coordination, and body mass.

To perform this movement, place the bar on your shoulder, take your one leg backward and stand in the split stance with your feet 2-3 feet apart. Lower into a lunge position until your knees are bent to 90 degrees. Do the suggested sets and reps.

9. Smith Machine Hip Thrust

The hip thrust is one of the best smith machine exercises that build solid glutes and hamstrings and enhance performance where lower body strength requires, such as in soccer, rugby, sprinting, and jumping.

You can do hip thrust in several ways, but the smith machine helps you perform efficiently and effectively.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Place your back on the bench with your feet firmly on the ground to align your chest and hips.
  2. Put the rubber pad on the bar and hold it on your hips.
  3. Keep your core and glute tight.
  4. Now, thrust your hips upward, as high as possible.
  5. Squeezing your glutes, pause for a moment and relax your hips to return to the start.

10. Standing Smith Machine Calf Raises

When it comes to building defined legs, training calves is equally important. Calves are the smallest muscles of the lower body, and you can build them up with various calf raise exercises.

Out of many, the smith machine calf raise is an excellent exercise for developing sturdy and beefy calves as it allows you to use more weight and perform efficiently in a controlled manner.

How to do it:

  • Stand on your toes on a foot platform and place the bar on your shoulder.
  • Raise your heels as high as possible to feel the work in your calves.
  • Lower your heels to the start and repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Smith Machine Back Workouts

11. Smith Machine Inverted Row

The inverted row is a super effective bodyweight workout that helps build a superior back. It also activates the biceps and core muscles and increases overall upper body strength.

A study suggests that the inverted row is an excellent way to develop various muscles, such as latissimus dorsi (lats), trapezius, and hip extensor muscles, without putting any tension on your lower back.1 Fenwick CM, Brown SH, McGill SM. Comparison of different rowing exercises: trunk muscle activation and lumbar spine motion, load, and stiffness. J Strength Cond Res. 2009 Mar;23(2):350-8. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181942019. PMID: 19197209.

How to do it:

  1. Get under the machine and grab the bar with an overhand grip.
  2. Keep your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  3. Walk your feet forward and lean back until your arms are straight and your chest is hanging below the middle of the bar. Make sure your heels are on the ground, your toes pointing up, and your body straight from top to bottom. That’s the starting position.
  4. Pull your torso up until your chest is close to the bar.
  5. Pause for a moment; you’ll feel your lats engaged and then return to the start.

12. Smith Machine Bent-over Row

The bent-over row is one of the best workouts for strengthening and growing back muscles. It also engages several other muscles, such as the core, rear deltoid, and biceps, and helps build a muscular upper body.

How to do it:

  1. Put the suitable weight into the bar, stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart and position the bar in a rack to about knee height, slightly below.
  2. Bend forward at your hips and knees until your chest is almost parallel to the floor.
  3. Grab the bar with an overhand grip, hands shoulder-width apart, and make sure that your head is up. That’s the start.
  4. Pull the bar toward your chest until you feel the full contraction in your back muscles.
  5. Pause for a moment and lower the bar until your arms are entirely extended.
  6. Maintain a neutral spine position throughout the movement.

13. Smith Machine Conventional Deadlift

The deadlift is regarded as the king of exercise because it works on various muscles throughout the body, such as quads, hamstrings, lats, shoulders, and core.

The deadlift shoots up your strength, increases testosterone, and helps build a sizable and muscular physique.

There are various types of deadlifts you can do, like sumo deadlift and stiff-leg deadlift, but the conventional deadlift is the one that works more on the lats.

How to do it:

  1. Put the suitable weight into the bar and set it in the lowest section of the rack.
  2. Stand in the hip-width stance with your shin close to the bar.
  3. Pushing your hips back, softly bend your knees and low down enough to grab a bar.
  4. Grab the bar with an alternate grip with your hands just outside your knees.
  5. Maintain a neutral spine position. Your chest should be up and core tight. That’s the start.
  6. Engaging your lats, lift the weight off the machine until your hips are entirely extended.
  7. Do not bend your elbows and let your shoulders down while lifting the weight.

14. Smith Machine Single Arm Row

You don’t always need dumbbells to perform one-arm rowing; the smith machine also helps you do that. The single-arm rowing is an excellent muscle-building workout that primarily forges back muscles.

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Position the bar around your knee height and stand right to it.
  2. Slightly lean forward at your hips and grip the bar with your right hand.
  3. Row the bar to your side until your lats are engaged.
  4. Pause for a moment and then return to the start.
  5. Do an equal number of sets and reps on each side.

Best Smith Machine Exercises For Chest

15. Smith Machine Flat Bench Press

The bench press is one of the big three lifts in the bodybuilding world. It is a compound movement that mainly strengthens and develops pectoralis muscles.

chest workout on smith machine

If you want to build a sturdy and good-looking upper body, you must perform a bench press at least twice a week.

How to do that:

  1. Load the desired weight into the bar.
  2. Lie on a flat bench with your chest beneath the middle of the bar.
  3. Grab the bar with your hands two times wider than hip-width apart, unrack and hold it just over your pecs with elbows bent.
  4. Keep your abdominal muscles tight, inhale and press the bar until your arms are straight.
  5. Stay for a moment and then lower the bar to the start. That’s one rep!

16. Smith Machine Incline Bench Press

smith machine chest exercises

The incline bench press primarily works on the upper chest and adds strength and definition to your overall pecs.

How to do it:

The incline press will be done as the flat bench press. You’ll only need to change a couple of things; set the bench to a 30-45 degree incline and hold the bar on your upper chest.

17. Decline Bench Press

The decline bench press strengthens and develops the lower chest and builds a defined upper body.

To perform the decline bench press, position the bench to a 30-degree decline and press the bar upward until your lower chest is engaged.

18. Reverse Grip Bench Press

The reverse grip bench press is a modified version of the bench press. You can do it in the last to complete your chest training for a day.

To perform the reverse grip bench press, get under the machine and grab the bar with an underhand grip with your palms facing in and follow the same steps as other bench presses.

19. Smith Machine Landmine Press

The landmine press is another highly beneficial upper body exercise that forges the shoulder and chest, especially anterior deltoid and upper pecs.

To perform this movement, sit on your knees, grab the one bend of the bar, and keep your chest up and head slightly leaning back. Press the bar up until your chest is engaged. Try not to extend your arms entirely overhead.

smith machine workouts For Arms

20. Smith Machine Close Grip Bench Press

The narrow grip bench press is an excellent workout for strengthing tricep muscles. And when you perform this exercise, try to do it in the beginning because it’s a compound movement and requires more effort.

How to do it:

  1. Load the desired weight in the machine and lie on the bench beneath the bar.
  2. Grab the bar firmly with an underhand grip, palms facing up and hands hip-width apart. Keep your elbows close to your body. The more you flare them outwards, the less your triceps engage.
  3. Press the bar over your chest until your arms are entirely straight.
  4. Squeezing your triceps, pause for a moment at the top, and then return to the start. That’s one rep!

21. Smith machine skull crushers

The skull crusher is one of the crucial workouts for the triceps. It works on the long head of the triceps and helps build sturdy arms.

How to do it:

  1. Position the bar to a proper height and lie on the bench.
  2. Grip the bar firmly, unrack it, and hold it above your forehead with your elbows bent and facing forward. That’s the start.
  3. Extend your arms until your triceps are entirely engaged.

22. Smith Machine Dips

The dip is a bodyweight arms workout, especially strengthening and toning tricep muscles. It is suitable for all fitness levels. You can incorporate it in smith machine exercises whether you’re a male or female.

You can also do other dips variations at home, such as floor, bench, and kitchen counter dips.

Here’s how you perform dips workout on a smith machine:

23. Smith machine Bicep Curl

It is not easy to perform bicep exercises with a smith machine. Because the smith machine limits range of motion and the bar of the machine provides poor grip. However, you can still try a couple of exercises to beef up your biceps.

You can start with a standard bicep curl. Here’s how you can do it.

  • Put the suitable weight into the bar and stand in front of it.
  • Grip the bar with an underhand grip, hands shoulder-width apart, and curl your arm until your biceps are fully engaged.
  • Squeezing your biceps, pause for a moment, and uncurl your arm.

24. Smith Machine Drag Curl

The drag curl is one of the unpopular bicep workouts.

It keeps your muscles under constant tension and helps build bigger biceps.

How to do it:

  1. Grab the bar with an underhand grip with your hands just outside your hips.
  2. Curl your arms, and as you curl, your elbows will move slightly backward simultaneously.
  3. Once your arms are fully flexed, return to the starting position. That’s one rep!

Smith Machine Workouts for Shoulders

25. Smith Machine Overhead Press

The overhead press is one of the primary workouts for the shoulder. You can do overhead presses with various equipment, but the smith machine provides better balance and help you do it effectively.

The smith machine shoulder press is mostly suitable for beginners and female fitness enthusiasts.

How to do it:

  1. Insert the weight plates into the machine and position the bar to your shoulder height.
  2. Grip the bar with an underhand grip, palms facing up, and unrack the bar.
  3. Maintain a neutral spine position, brace your core and press the bar overhead until your arms are entirely straight. Return to the start to complete the first repetition.

26. Smith Machine Lateral Raises

The lateral raise isolates the side deltoid and build sturdy shoulders. However, it’s challenging to perform on the smith machine. Below I’ve shared the steps; you can try it out and see if it’s working or not.

  1. Set the bar to your stomach height and stand beside it.
  2. Bend your right elbow to 90-degree, unrack the bar, and hold it on your forearm.
  3. Raise your upper arm until you feel the contraction in your side delts.
  4. Pause for a moment and then slowly lower the bar to the start.

27. Smith Machine Upright Row

The upright row is a pull exercise that bolsters shoulder and upper back strength. It also helps perform various CrossFit exercises efficiently, such as clean and press, high pull, and snatch.

To perform the upright row on the smith machine:

  1. Stand in front of the machine and position the bar to your hip level, close to your body.
  2. Grab the bar with an overhand grip, palms facing in. Make sure your back is straight.
  3. Pull the bar toward your neck until you feel a good contraction in your upper traps and rear delts.
  4. Hold there for a second before you lower the bar to the start.

28. Smith Machine Shrugs

The smith machine shrugs work around your neck, shoulders, and upper traps and add definition to your shoulder muscles.

  1. Position the bar around your thigh height and stand upright with your feet together.
  2. Grip the bar with an overhand grip, palms facing your body, and hands are about hip-width apart.
  3. Unlatch the bar and raise your shoulder blades toward your ears as high as possible.
  4. Squeezing your working muscles, pause for a moment, and then relax your shoulders.
  5. Repeat for the desired number of times.

29. Smith Machine 45-degree Incline Row

The 45-degree incline rowing strengthens the upper back and posterior deltoid.

A study published by the American council of exercise (ACE) has shown that the 45-degree incline row provides the greatest muscle activation in the medial and rear deltoid and helps build defined shoulders.2 Dynamite Delts: ACE Research Identifies Top Shoulder Exercises by Samantha Sweeney, M.S., John P. Porcari, Ph.D., Clayton Camic, Ph.D., Attila Kovacs, Ph.D., and Carl Foster, Ph.D.

  1. Place the bench over the bar and set it to a 45-degree incline height.
  2. Lie on the bench on your stomach, chest on its edge, and face down.
  3. Extend your arms to hold the bar with an overhand grip, palms facing in and arms underneath your shoulders.
  4. Slightly lift your shoulder blades and pull the bar up until your rear del and traps are engaged.
  5. Pause at the top, and then relax your arms to return to the start.

Smith Machine Core Workouts

30. Standing Smith Machine Side Bend

The standing side bend is a core strengthening exercise. It reinforces the external and internal oblique and helps expose six-pack abs.

How to do it:

  1. Position the bar at your thigh height and stand beside it.
  2. Hold the bar with your right hand and bend to the opposite side until you feel the work in your oblique.
  3. Squeezing your love handle, pause for a moment, and then extend your torso.
  4. Do an equal number of sets and reps on each side.

31. Lying Smith Machine Sit-ups

The sit-up is one of the essential core workouts that strengthen and tone rectus abdominish. It works on the upper abs and helps build a bullet-proof core.

Here’s how you can do it on a smith machine:

  1. Lie on the floor under the bar.
  2. Extend your arms up and grip the bar.
  3. Lift your torso off the floor, raising the bar over you.
  4. Return your torso to the floor and repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

32. Smith Machine Hanging Knee Raises

The hanging knee raise is one of the pull-up bar abs workouts, but you can also do it on a smith machine. You must have enough strength and balance to hold your body on the bar to perform knee raises on the smith machine.

  1. Position the bar to your upper chest level, put a rubber pad on the middle of the bar, place your upper arm on the pad and hang onto the bar.
  2. Brace your core and glutes, and bring your knees toward your chest until you feel the full contraction in your abs.
  3. Squeezing your core, pause for a moment, and lower your knees to the start.

If you want to challenge your strength, you can also clamp a dumbbell between your feet to do weight knee raise.

33. Hanging Leg Raises on Smith Machine

The hanging leg raise is another core workout that works on lower abs and thickens six-pack ab muscles. Additionally, it enhances mobility and endurance.

How to do it:

  1. Set the bar to your upper chest height, bend your elbows and place your upper arm on the bar so you can hang on it.
  2. Pull yourself up and lift your feet off the floor. Keep your abdominal muscles tight. That’s the start.
  3. Keeping your knees straight, raise your legs together in front of you until the toes are in front of your chest. You can also make a circle with your legs to make this move super effective.

34. Decline Smith Machine Crunches

The decline crunch is an advanced ab workout that builds up entire core muscle groups, including abs and oblique, and helps beef up rectus abdominish.

Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Place the bench underneath the bar and set it to a 30-degree decline.
  2. Extend your arms, grab the bar, and brace your core. That’s the start.
  3. Lift your torso off the bench until you feel the work in your core.
  4. Squeezing your core, pause for a moment, and lower your torso on the bench.
  5. Do as many sets and reps as you like.

Smith Machine Full Body Workout Plan

Summary

  • Exercise Frequency: 5 Days a Week
  • Duration: 45-60 minutes
  • Workout Type: Full Body
  • Level: Beginner to Intermediate
  • Suitable For: Men and Women
  • Rest Between Sets: 1-2 minute

Monday

ExerciseSetsReps
Smith Machine Back Squat38-12
Flat Bench Press38-12
Bent-over Row38-12
Smith Machine Overhead Press38-12
Standing Side Bend26-10

Tuesday

ExerciseSetsReps
Smith Machine Lunges310
Incline Bench Press310
Inverted Row310
Romanian Deadlift210
Skull Crushers310

Wednesday

ExerciseSetsReps
Smith Machine Deadlift34-6
Smith Machine Bicep Curl310
Lateral Raises310
Upright Row38-12
Hanging Knee Raises28-12

Friday

ExerciseSetsReps
Decline Bench Press38-12
Reverse Lunge38-12
Single Arm Row38-12
Standing Calf Raises38-12
45-Degree Incline Row36-10

Saturday

ExerciseSetsReps
Narrow Grip Bench Press38-12
Smith Machine Shrug38-12
Smith Machine Hip Thrust38-12
Smith Machine Dips38-12
Smith Machine Drag Curl26-10

FAQs on Smith Machine Workout

Is the Smith machine better for building muscle?

Any kind of resistance training helps build muscles. Even bricks and stones can build muscles if you exercise, eat and sleep properly. The smith machine is universal gym equipment that allows you to perform various exercises to train your entire body. Doing all exercises in the right way and with the proper weight helps build muscles.

Is a Smith machine as good as free weights?

The smith machine and free weights both are crucial for developing a muscular and sizable body. Machines provide better balance and help target muscles efficiently but limit the range of motion.

There is no strong evidence about which one is better, but a study done on limited people suggested that free weights are better for upper-body muscular development than machines.3 Schick EE, Coburn JW, Brown LE, Judelson DA, Khamoui AV, Tran TT, Uribe BP. A comparison of muscle activation between a Smith machine and free weight bench press. J Strength Cond Res. 2010 Mar;24(3):779-84. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181cc2237. Erratum in: J Strength Cond Res. 2011 Jan;25(1):286. PMID: 20093960.

However, I feel the combination of both free weights and a smith machine is essential to achieve your best physique.

Are smith machines safe?

The smith machine is one of the safest pieces of equipment in the gym. It provides excellent balance, prevents unnecessary movements, and reduces the risk of injuries.

If you’re new to the training, you should use machines for heavyweight exercises to build up strength before lifting barbells and dumbbells.

Download – Smith Machine Workout Chart with Muscles Groups PDF.

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References

  • 1
    Fenwick CM, Brown SH, McGill SM. Comparison of different rowing exercises: trunk muscle activation and lumbar spine motion, load, and stiffness. J Strength Cond Res. 2009 Mar;23(2):350-8. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181942019. PMID: 19197209.
  • 2
    Dynamite Delts: ACE Research Identifies Top Shoulder Exercises by Samantha Sweeney, M.S., John P. Porcari, Ph.D., Clayton Camic, Ph.D., Attila Kovacs, Ph.D., and Carl Foster, Ph.D.
  • 3
    Schick EE, Coburn JW, Brown LE, Judelson DA, Khamoui AV, Tran TT, Uribe BP. A comparison of muscle activation between a Smith machine and free weight bench press. J Strength Cond Res. 2010 Mar;24(3):779-84. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181cc2237. Erratum in: J Strength Cond Res. 2011 Jan;25(1):286. PMID: 20093960.