Smith Machine Squat Video Guide

Exercise Profile

  • Strength
  • Machine
  • Compound
  • Push
  • Beginner
  • Calves, Glutes, Hamstrings, Lower Back
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Quads Exercises Diagram Target Muscle Group

Exercise Instructions

  1. Set up for the smith machine squat by setting the bar to around shoulder height and loading the weight you want to use.
  2. Stand under the bar with your legs around shoulder width apart.
  3. Grasp the bar with a wide grip and position the center of the bar on top of the muscles on your back. The bar should not sit on your neck!
  4. Keeping your back straight and eyes facing forwards and take the weight off the rack.
  5. Take a slight step forward.
  6. Keeping your eyes facing forwards with a straight back, slowly squat down until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
  7. Pushing up through the heels, raise the the bar back to the starting position.
  8. Repeat for desired reps.

​Exercise Tips:

The are many mistakes that can be made when squatting so it's important that you have your technique down before you attempt squatting heavy weights. If you are squatting correctly, you should not feel pain in your lower back. Lower back pain is usually a sign that you are not using correct form and/or your core is weak.  

Common mistakes when squatting:  

  1. Rounding the lower back: It's crucially important that you keep a straight back when you squat! You can ensure your back is straight by keeping eyes facing forward, chest out, shoulder blades back, and back arched. Keep your core muscles tensed throughout the movement to help hold your back in place.
  2. Pushing from the balls of your feet: This puts unnecessary strain on joints and tendons. Always push up through your heels. Curling up your toes can help you get the technique right.
  3. Leaning forward: This happens when your hip move up faster than your shoulders. To prevent this keep the rep timing slow and controlled and stick your buttocks out as you go down.
  4. Knees come too far forward: When you squat down your hips should be dropping straight down, not coming forward. Using a light weight, perfect your form standing side on to a mirror.
  5. Not squatting deep enough: Using squats to their full potential requires squatting down at least until your thighs are around parallel to the floor.
  6. Knees in or out: Don't point your knees in or out when you're lowering or pushing the weight. This puts unnecessary strain on the knee joints.
  7. Looking down: As soon as you look down your back rounds, simple as that.

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12 Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Wed, 09/18/2013 - 18:57

I thought the smith machine was bad?

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Posted Mon, 09/16/2013 - 21:25

I thought smith machines were bad?

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Posted Thu, 06/27/2013 - 13:41

My gym dont have squat rack. I am saving money to buy by my self but until then i am doing smith machine squat. I have heard that smith machine squat are ugly and bad, it can hurt your back. Please advise me is smith machine squat are ok if done with proper form. I think my form is good with smith machine, I never felt any back pain. I am doing it for about a month.

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Posted Wed, 04/03/2013 - 00:19

I am maybe misunderstanding how to reach the routines for weeks 7-12 or maybe I'm not. But for several of the exercises in both Routine's 1 and 2 for weeks 7-12 it's indicating doing 21 or 22 sets. Is this a typo or am I'm not understanding how to read the schedule?

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Posted Tue, 05/28/2013 - 03:26

There are 2 exercises in those lines so you do 2 sets of the first exercise and 1 of the second.

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Posted Sun, 02/10/2013 - 20:39
Grant Monahan

I broke my neck a few years back and I don't like the idea of putting any weight on my neck. Is there any other sub. to the smith or reg. squats.

Joey's picture
Posted Tue, 02/12/2013 - 11:12

You wouldn't want to place the bar on your neck to begin with. Place the bar on your traps -- you can even do "low bar" squats and position the bar lower on your back. Front squats are also a great option.

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Posted Tue, 01/15/2013 - 18:15

My trainer told me that to reason people lean forward when they do squats is because their hip flexors and calves are tight. My form on regular squats is awful. Doing smith squats helps keep me upright and push through my heels. It improves my form in other ways and works the same muscles as when I do regular squats, but lets me have more control.

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Posted Tue, 09/04/2012 - 16:51

Due to some minor back issues, was wondering if I could do dumbell squats instead and get the same results?

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Posted Tue, 10/02/2012 - 08:15

Wendy tbh I have never heard of anyone doing dumbell squats at the gym- your best bet is to use the smith machine and use light weights- I managed to get sciatica 4 years ago and I use the smith machine to do my squats and it is a painless experience- as long as you learn the correct technique and ensure you tense your glutes and core it should ideally keep your back stable and hence relenquish any pain in your back when doing the exercise

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Posted Mon, 09/03/2012 - 20:58

Is there a substitute since I do not have a smith machine?

Steven's picture
Posted Tue, 09/04/2012 - 14:01

You can use barbell squats.