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Squatting in a smith machine? Consider the following:

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  • Squatting in a smith machine? Consider the following:

    This guy is an experienced lifter, but made the poor choice of heavy squatting in a smith machine. He got in the hole and couldn't come back up. Since it's a smith, he couldn't dump the weight either and got pinned to the ground. He can't move his legs. An email about the incident at my base gym:

    All,
    I just wanted to let you know about Andrew's status. For those of you who don't know, Andrew suffered a serious back injury while lifting weights at the gym yesterday. He was medivac'd to Honolulu - Queens hospital last night, and is in surgery as I type.

    He had been lifting a heavy amount of weights using the Smith machine in a squat exercise when his back gave out causing the weights to come down on him. Thanks to Kevin Allison and Justin Knobbe who were there and assisted with pulling off the weights. Medical attention arrived promptly, stabilized him and took him to KVMH.

    This caused serious injury to the T12-L1 area of his spine, displacing one vertebra, and tearing ligaments. The surgery is to stabilize the area as there is concern about pressure on the spinal cord, and fuse the affected vertebrae. He should be out of surgery in a few hours and I will provide an update as I hear more. With a good result, he will likely be out for at least a month.

  • #2
    I am sorry for his injury and hope for a speedy recovery but, I don't think heavy lifting in a Smith machine is to blame, nor is it a "poor choice" in and of itself. The poor choice was in not using the safety devices. Heavy smith squats can be a decent swap when stalling on regular squats. The issue is that he didn't utilize the safety mechanism.

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    • #3
      Agreed, this has nothing to do with the smith machine, or even poor choices, like michael said.

      The moral of this story is not "Don't squat in the smith machine," but rather, "When going heavy, get a spotter."



      I too used to thing smith squats were for girls and weenies...

      ...then I tried them and was amazed.

      Comment


      • #4
        I'd also like to note, many smith machines not only have adjustable stops or 'racks,' but most can even be easily racked even if you get stuck in the hole.

        Again, this had nothing to do with the squatting in a smith machine being inherently bad.

        Comment


        • #5
          I've hurt my back in a smith before too. It wasn't as serious, but I couldn't move without pain for a month. Also, good catch on the spotter issue. I got word that he had no spotter and safety pins were not in place. Still, I feel more comfortable with the option to dump the weight.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Big_in_MT View Post
            I've hurt my back in a smith before too. It wasn't as serious, but I couldn't move without pain for a month. Also, good catch on the spotter issue. I got word that he had no spotter and safety pins were not in place. Still, I feel more comfortable with the option to dump the weight.
            Hmm, you're right! If I had to choose between dumping the weight and hoping it doesn't hit me and take out my achilles, knees, or innocent onlookers, or rotating a bar 1/4 of a turn and walking away without giving it a second thought, I would def choose the first!

            I'm not saying a smith is better, but you simply can't make the argument that it is less safe than free squats when getting stuck.
            2010 NPC North Star

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Macho Man View Post
              Hmm, you're right! If I had to choose between dumping the weight and hoping it doesn't hit me and take out my achilles, knees, or innocent onlookers, or rotating a bar 1/4 of a turn and walking away without giving it a second thought, I would def choose the first!

              I'm not saying a smith is better, but you simply can't make the argument that it is less safe than free squats when getting stuck.
              Ever try to rotate the bar on a smith while your in the hole? You can't. Try it and let me know how it goes for you.

              Comment


              • #8
                He made the poor choice of not having a spotter and or setting the safety pins.... The equipment it irrelevant IMO.
                2014 NPC Mr MN State TBD
                2012 NPC MN state 40+ 1st and 3rd Hvy *Injury :frusty:
                2012 NPC Gopher State 40+ 1st and 1st SuperHvy
                2011 NPC Gopher State 40+ 1st and 2nd Open Hvy.
                2011 NPC Upper Midwest 40+ 1st and Super Hvy 1st
                2009 Gopher State 4th Hvy and 4th Masters 40+
                *11 Natural contest 1992-2000 placed top 4 of all
                88 Natural Mr MN 2nd Teen
                88 Gopher State 4th Teen Hvy Div 176lbs

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Big_in_MT View Post
                  Ever try to rotate the bar on a smith while your in the hole? You can't. Try it and let me know how it goes for you.
                  Hahaha, are you shitting me? Yes, I have. Granted it wasn't with a shit ton of weight, but if you can squat that much to begin with, you should be able to rotate the damn bar with it on there!

                  You either you A. lean forward an inch and rotate the bar as you do so, or B. let the weight come off your back like you would when you were dumping it and let the bar rotate back as it moves, depending on which direction your hooks are facing.
                  2010 NPC North Star

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Macho Man View Post
                    Granted it wasn't with a shit ton of weight, but
                    And that is what the guy was doing. A shit ton of weight.

                    Well homeslice, you came to argue and blast me, so go ahead and address these issues and I'll check back tomorrow.

                    http://stronglifts.com/smith-machine...-free-weights/

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Big_in_MT View Post
                      And that is what the guy was doing. A shit ton of weight.

                      Well homeslice, you came to argue and blast me, so go ahead and address these issues and I'll check back tomorrow.

                      http://stronglifts.com/smith-machine...-free-weights/
                      looked at the article. Points 1-4 are weak, and any experience lifter will be able to mitigate these risks.. As for the unexperienced lifter, they have just as much chance at injury whether on Smith or free weights.. Points 6 and 7, well, just ask Dante if using the smith means less muscle and less strength.. Point 8, muscle imbalance can occur just as easily in my experience with free weights.. How many people have you seen benching or shoulder pressing with one side of the bar rising at a higher level than the other... In point 9, they are contradicting what they are trying to prove. Of course technique is different, which is why it can be a valuable substitute when stalling on another type of movement, especially for DC training. Point 10, you can just go back to point 6 or 7 when you ask Dante if he thinks there is less potential by using a smith..

                      I am not advocating Smith over free weights for every exercise by any means, but this article is rubbish imho... The Smith can be a valuable and useful piece of equipment, when used the right way. That sentence applies not only to the smith, but to the majority of equipment in the gym...

                      -Mike

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Big_in_MT View Post
                        And that is what the guy was doing. A shit ton of weight.

                        Well homeslice, you came to argue and blast me, so go ahead and address these issues and I'll check back tomorrow.

                        http://stronglifts.com/smith-machine...-free-weights/
                        I squat very heavy in the smith for one of my quad exercises...

                        ... My super weak free weight barbell squat videos are in the main forum.

                        /shameless plug

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Big_in_MT View Post
                          And that is what the guy was doing. A shit ton of weight.

                          Well homeslice, you came to argue and blast me, so go ahead and address these issues and I'll check back tomorrow.

                          http://stronglifts.com/smith-machine...-free-weights/
                          First of all, I did not come here to blast you, haha. I was calling out the fact that you are saying a smith machine is less safe, which just isn't the case.

                          While I have never met Mehdi Hadim from Belgium, his personal best of 400lbs on the squat, while not bad, hardly makes him a voice of authority on all things "squat".

                          I will address the issues he presented
                          "1. False Sense of Security. You'll tend to take more risks on the Smith Machine because the barbell is fixed. Putting on weights you might not be able to lift yet since you can stop it more easily anyway."
                          ----yes, if you are an idiot this may be a concern of yours. Leave the ego at the door and you will be ok

                          "2. Unnatural Movements. On a free weight Squat your body goes down in an arched path. Smith Machines force your body into fixed, unnatural movements patterns. This can cause injuries, especially with heavier weights."
                          ----- So leg presses must be out then too eh? Shit, what am I going to do?

                          "3, Knee Injuries. Knee pain from the Smith Machine is common. It forces your body into fixed movements patterns and places shearing loads on your knees. And it's hard to position yourself correctly under the bar."
                          ------- Again with the fixed movement patterns? Here is a tip, if it hurts your knees, move your feet around until it doesn't! Groundbreaking!

                          "4. Lower Back Injuries. The fixed bar tends to make you rest against it and the Smith Machine forces you into unnatural movements patterns."
                          ------ Ok, I'm draw the line at the third regurgitation of the same bullshit problem. (See #'s 2 and 3)

                          "5. No Balance. The Smith Machine balances and stabilizes the weight for you since its bar is fixed. You won't strengthen your stabilizing muscles or improve balance & coordination. Things you need for daily activities & sports."
                          ------ So I shouldn't rely solely on the smith for all my movements? I'm glad you warned me about that! Couldn't the same thing be said for free squatting and never doing unilateral movements?

                          "6. Less Strength. All exercises become easier and less stressful since the Smith Machine balances the weight for you. You won't get as strong. Expect to lift less weight when switching to free weights."
                          ----- Yeah, and expect to be able to lift more when you switch from free weights to a smith. Are you suggesting that you can't progress strength-wise on a smith machine? Don't you think that if you progress past you stabilizing muscle capacity on the smith machine, it will quickly catch back up once going back to free weights?

                          "7. Less Muscle. If you aren't making gains: switching to free weights will often make you break that plateau. Free weights force you to balance the weight, making the exercise harder on your body. Bigger adaptive response."
                          ---- See # 6. This is just a stupid attempt to demonize the smith machine. He must have been running out of ideas.

                          "8. Muscle Imbalances You only build strength in 1 plane since the bar is fixed. This causes muscle imbalances and increases the risks of injuries in the other undeveloped planes of movements."
                          ----- Hmmm. Who was the one advocating only ever using the smith machine again? Anyone? No one? Darn, there goes another reason.

                          "9. Technique is Different. Common advice is to learn to Squat inside the Smith Machine before switching to free weights. The thinking behind this is that the Smith Machine is safer and helps with balance.
                          But it's a waste of time. Technique is different using free weights since you have to balance the weight yourself. You'll have to lower the weight when switching and relearn technique from scratch."
                          --- Sure, if you are only ever teaching technique solely in a smith then I agree. If you start out in the smith for a few weeks and then switch to free weights, this becomes a mute point.

                          "10. Less Potential. You can minimize some of the above problems. But even if you do, the Smith Machine remains less effective for strength and muscle gains. Instead of trying to minimize problems: do the exercises with most potential."
                          ---- No one is saying that a smith machine is superior to free weights. You still haven't built a case as to why incorporating a smith machine into a well rounded workout routine is a bad idea.
                          2010 NPC North Star

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I didn't like the article, it sounds like its coming from some guy that is all brawn and no brain type. The type of muscle head idiot that gives strong guys bad names. The smith machine definitely has its place in lifting, and shouldn't be shunned. This guys injury isn't because of the smith machine, it's more of an instance where someone had a false sense of security, not to the point of taking risks, like the article says, but just the all around sense that you're not going to get hurt that all the smith machine fanatics put out. Look on any smith machine, you'll see it likely says WARNING-blah blah blah injury blah blah blah spotter blah blah blah. The ability to get hurt is always in the gym regardless of what you're doing. Sidepoint, I too have rotated a bar while in the hole and locked it in to bail. This could very well be a case of smith a vs smith b. Each are made differently.

                            Also, don't let this turn in to a pissing match. If you've got a point about someones opinion, state it, don't flame someone because of their opinion.
                            Last edited by mark!; 09-27-2011, 07:12 PM.
                            …Time is so precious….and you need to ask yourself, what are you going to do today but more importantly, you need to ask yourself – how are you going to do it?

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Charles Poliquin holds seminar views to that guy (which is the polite way of saying it's probably where that guy originally read them lol) on the Smith.

                              #5
                              http://www.charlespoliquin.com/Artic...Squatting.aspx
                              PM me to discuss website/video/dvd etc. related work.

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