Squats are a great way to give your whole lower body a workout and are the best for firming and toning your legs and butt.
A squat can be performed in two ways; using a barbell as a free weight, or with the help of a Smith machine. Everybody has their own preference, but does it really matter which technique you use?
Let’s take a look at the main differences between the two, and decide once and for all. Smith machine squats vs regular – which is the better workout?
What are the Benefits of Squatting?
Like all forms of exercise, squatting has many benefits for your fitness, strength, and overall health. It targets and tones several different muscle groups throughout the body, leaving you looking lean and feeling energized.
When added to your regular fitness regime, squatting has the power to:
- Strengthen your core: The balance required to squat using free weights is a highly effective workout for the core muscles, strengthening and toning your abs.
- Tone up your legs and butt: Squats target the quads, hamstrings, calves, and glutes, for a complete lower body workout.
- Increase your joint flexibility: The squatting motion involves the ankles, knees, hips, and back, helping to keep these joints flexible and healthy.
- Improve your upper body strength: Using weights when you squat engages the muscles of the upper body, especially when performed without a Smith machine.
Smith Machine Squats vs. Regular: What’s the Difference?
There are two main ways to perform a squat; freeform, or using a Smith machine. When using the Smith machine, the performer lifts a suspended barbell that is supported by the machine, keeping their back straight, knees bent, and thighs parallel to the floor.
A freeform squat is performed without the aid of a machine, usually with a barbell held across the shoulders.
Both involve the exact same motion, so you may not think there’s much difference between the two. In fact, the added support of the Smith machine affects your posture, balance, and even the muscle groups you use. In short, it’s a totally different workout!
But is one any better than the other? Let’s take a look at the main differences between the two techniques, and how they can affect the outcome of your workout.
Form and posture
When using weights during a workout it is vital to make sure that your posture is perfect. Whether squatting with a Smith machine or without, it is important to keep your back straight, your core engaged, your knees bent, and your thighs parallel to the floor. Poor form when squatting can easily lead to injury, whether from falling, dropping the weights, or muscular strain.
If you are new to squats, it may be a good idea to start out using a Smith machine. This stabilizes the weight for you, allowing you to focus on your technique and posture without any risk of overbalancing.
By the way, this video might help you to understand how to do squats on the Smith machine the right way:
Once you’re satisfied that your form is spot on, you can progress to regular squats using a barbell. This requires more core engagement, and so is a little more challenging – but worth it, when you see the effect on your abs!
Safety and stability
The main reason to choose the Smith machine over regular squats is safety. The support of the Smith machine helps to balance the weight of the barbell, providing perfect stability as you lift. In this respect, the Smith machine is ideal for beginners, as it eliminates any risk of falling as a result of bad form.
Regular squats, performed using barbell across the shoulders, require a lot more balance than the smith machine. Keeping your back aligned, your feet properly placed, and your core engaged are all essential for performing a safe squat. The extra work required to hold this posture and balance as you squat targets a totally different set of muscles, which brings us to our next point…
Squatting is a fantastic way to give your whole lower body a workout, from your calves all the way up to your abs. However, depending on whether you do your squats freeform or using a Smith machine, your workout will engage different completely muscle groups. This can make a noticeable change to the results you see, and should be taken into consideration when honing your workout routine!
Balance is key when squatting using a barbell, as you don’t have the added support of the Smith machine to hold you steady. This requires strong engagement of the core muscles to keep your back aligned as you lift. If your goal is to train your lower body evenly and improve your ab definition, freeform squats the way to go.
However, if you want to focus on bulking up your leg muscles, the Smith machine may be your best bet. This is because the stabilizing effect of the machine allows you to lift more weight, giving a stronger workout to your quads.
Verdict: Which is Best for Leg Training?
There are different advantages to squatting with or without a Smith machine, and the best way to benefit is to incorporate both into your workout routine! The Smith machine is perfect for beginners who need to perfect their technique. The extra stability reduces the risk of falls, allowing you to perfect your posture before moving on to regular squats.
The muscle groups targeted by your workout will also be different depending on how you squat. People using a Smith machine will be able to lift heavier weights than those squatting without one, hitting the quads hard and strengthening the thighs. Those performing squats freeform, however, will use more of their core strength to stay balanced, more effectively working out the abs.
Mixing it up and incorporating both into your workout is the best way to evenly train all your muscle groups. Regular squatters can enjoy firm and toned thighs, butts, and abs. Squats are a highly effective form of exercise that can be performed anywhere, either at the gym or at home using a compact smith machine. Add a few reps to your workout, and you’ll begin to see the benefits within weeks!
About the AuthorDumbbellsgeek
Hey! My name is Paul Sheldon. I live in Nashville, TN and I love all things related to sports. Naturally I love workking out and I do it every day. If you want to talk feel freee to hit me a message or if you happen to be in Nashville we can get a coffee, I know a great place. Peace!