Is Smith Machine a More Useful Equipment for Weight Training than Barbells?

If you are into weight training, you will find a number of equipments like the dumbbells, barbells or the smith machine which could be useful to you. Using these, you can perform a variety of exercises. The question is which one is better for you? People have personal preferences based on which mainly they make the choice. But if you are interested in learning about their advantages, and follow the guidelines set by experts of the field, you need to read on.

smith machineSmith Machines Versus Barbells: which is More Beneficial?

There are different studies showing the advantages and disadvantages of smith machines and barbells as equipments of weight training. Let us have a look at them:

Strength Factor

A study report published in 2011 in the Journal of Sports Science showed that when strength factor is assessed, barbells score over smith machines. 12 health men took part in this test, and the result showed that barbell loading weight was 3% higher than smith machine loading weight. It has been argued that the smith machine locks up the user in a specific space, and thereby increases the chances of  picking up injuries but this criticism is more for squats than bench presses.

However, when it comes to lifting weight, it can be said, smith machines are not as efficient as good old barbells. Another study of 2005 also shows that the weight lifters using barbells have a clear advantage over those who bench pressing in the smith machine.

Electromyographic Activity- Chest

The study of 2011 also looked at the stimulation of pectoralis muscles or the anterior deltoid region. The study shows that when it comes to stimulation of those muscles both barbells and smith machines are at par with each other. It is also argued by some that building of triceps muscles are easier using barbells.

Electromyographic Activity -Squats

Since we have already discussed the chest exercises let us now turn our attention to squats. A study published in December 2009 showed the use of barbells for squatting is also more advantageous than the use of the smith machine.

In this study, 6 healthy participants were given sets of activities and eventually it was found that overall the electomygrphic activity of all the muscles were higher by 43% while doing the squats using barbells than doing squats using the smith machine. Therefore one might not be wrong in arguing that free hand squats using barbells are in general more beneficial for individuals than squats in the smith machine.

Convenience Factor

If you are exercising at home, then dumbbells are the easier option. You can also choose a full set of barbells if you are accustomed to them. But in a gym, the smith machine is a convenient option for you.

The question that whether smith machines or barbells, has more advantages does not necessarily have a single true answer. There are arguments going on in favor of or against both the systems. Some people might also advice you to get rid of both and use dumbbells instead. Therefore, it is you, who have to decide on which one is more suitable for you.