Smith machine with horizontal movement for maintenance deadlifts: Y or N?

Discussion in 'Barbell' started by guardian7, Oct 23, 2019.

  1. guardian7

    guardian7 More than 500 posts

    Smith machine for deadlifts if there is no choice?

    On the campus where I work there is a gym that I could use for free on a day when I teach fewer classes. I want to maintain my DL. There is a squat rack and benches of course, but a lack of space for deadlifting. Too many little-used shiny machines. The squat rack unsuprisingly is too busy. However, there is a high end new kind of Smith Machine that moves back and forth, horizontally, not just up and down. The groove feels much better than a normal smith machine with the greater range of movement, but not quite the same as a normal lift.

    Is it worth using this machine or would it mess up my normal conventional DL groove? Last time I tested I was at double bodyweight. Probably a bit less now. I feel sore in the right places now though. It did not seem to cause me to use my back or anything. The lowest rung is quite low, so it is somewhere between the floor and a rack pull. Actually a nice height. It was harder to wedge and lock in the tension but the bar does roll in the hand which helps grip. The knurling on the grip has too much texture. I think it is made for people wearing gloves.

    I do my deadlifts during the winter with a proper program but I am just looking for a once a week maintenance option. I don't have other options for DL right now. Thai boxing twice a week for fitness, bodyweight, and KB is my normal program spring and fall.

    Should I use it or substitute goblet squats? The gym has heavy dumbells. I can do KB goblet squats at home.
  2. More than 500 posts

    HOIST Fitness CF-3754 Dual Action Smith

    This is the machine you are talking about. A somewhat common term is a "Smith-Jones Machine".

    It allows for more a more natural movement that is somewhat similar to Free Weights but as you said, not exactly the same.

    The Groove

    Yes, the groove will be a little different than with a Deadlift.

    However, this Dual Action Smith is good Auxiliary Exercise. With that said, so is the Traditional Smith Machine.

    The Traditional Smith place the work load on the prime movers, taking the stabilizer muscle out of the equation, like a Leg Press.

    This allows you to increase your strength and size in the prime movers, since the stabilizer muscle are the limiting factor.

    With that said, you then need to utilize Auxiliary Exercises that focus on the stabilize muscles.

    Scrape The Rack

    This work essentially like a Traditional Smith Machine, placing the work load on the prime movers; working the muscles differently.

    I perform Scrape The Rack for Pressing, Squatting, Good Mornings (same movement pattern/strength curve as the Deadlift), etc for training my prime movers as Auxiliary Powerlifing Exercises.

    Basically, Scrape The Rack Training is the Poor Man's Smith Machine.

    Here are some...

    Quadriceps: Scrape the Rack

    Different Muscle Involvement

    Your soreness means that while it is working the same muscles, it is working them from a different angle that your muscle are not accustomed to.

    Varying Your Exercises

    Research show that one of the keys to increasing strength and/or size is to vary your exercises, which you are doing.

    Varying your exercises can be as simple as performing Wide Grip Bench Pressing and then moving to a Narrow Grip Bench Press. Same muscle group, different involvement.

    Increased Strength/Size Option

    Rather than use it for a maintenance option, view it as a means of increasing your strength and/or size by varying/training the muscles from a different angle.

    Kenny Croxdale
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2019
  3. vegpedlr

    vegpedlr More than 500 posts

    My old gym had something like that. Since that was all that was available, that’s what I used. Not exactly the same, but for my purposes it worked well enough.

    Two variations that the machine makes easier I didn’t try were to do a sumo esque pull with a v grip while straddling the bar, and a suitcase DL.
    guardian7 likes this.
  4. guardian7

    guardian7 More than 500 posts

    Thanks Kenny, comprehensive as always. I like the way you cite the literature. I am a university instructor (in a different field), so I have access to some journals. I was sore because I have not trained deadlift since Feb. too. so I am looking for a way not to regress too much until Dec.

    I will use the machine and try to get in early before the kids get there. Seeing as it is easier, I could use the weight that I would normally need to shift to a mixed grip to work on my overhand grip, with a bit more volume. I am also doing bottom up press work now with my "retired" press bell. Very challenging but convenient.

    Maybe add face pulls and one leg deadlift as assistance/stabilizing exercises. and rows (which I don't do enough of with kettlebell work. (Thai boxing for fitness is my primary workout twice a week. I do getups as part of my warmup).

    It is not one of my moves, but that scrape the rack overhead squat looks like a good, safe progression movement. I might do it just for shoulder mobility as I can't do that move well even unloaded.
  5. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Forum Administrator Senior Certified Instructor

    @guardian7, one of the great attractions of the deadlift is that you can do it with a barbell, plates, and a rubber mat. Even a single 4' x 6' x 1/2" mat will suffice. Maybe you should consider deadlifting at home.

    Chrisdavisjr likes this.
  6. More than 500 posts


    Yea, not performing an exercise for a while can produce some soreness.

    Good Mornings

    You also might consider performing Good Mornings instead of Deadlifts in the rack.

    Good Mornings are one of the best Auxiliary Exercises for the Deadlift.

    1) The same muscle are involved in Good Mornings and Deadlifts.

    2) Good Mornings and Deadlifts have the same Ascending Strength Curve; hard at the bottom and easier the higher you ascend.

    Back/Hip Extensions

    If the gym has a Back Raise/Hip Extension Bench, this is another good Auxiliary Deadlift Exercise.

    1) The 45 Degree Back Raise/Hip Extension Bench is essentially a variation of a Good Morning. It has a "Bell Shaped Strength Curve"; easy at the start, hard in the middle and easy at the top.

    Thus, the 45 Degree Back Raise/Hip Extension Bench is effective at increasing strength in the knee area of a Deadlift.

    2) The 90 Degree Back Raise/Hip Extension is a "Descending Strength Curve"; easier in the first 2/3's of the movement and hard at the top, lock out position.

    The 90 Degree Back Raise/Hip Extension increase strength in the top end, lockout position of the Deadlift.

    Technique Training

    Developing technique Deadlift, any movement, is developed primarily single repetitions with loads of 85% plus of your 1 Repetition Max.

    One of the main issues with preforming a Competition Lift for repetitions is that each repetition fatigues the muscles. As fatigue set in the muscle firing sequence and the technique of the movement is altered.

    In Technique Training Sessions, the movement is stopped once fatigue occurs so that poor technique is not developed.

    Powerlifter are the only group that I know of that use the Competition Lift for repetitions.

    Olympic Lifter do not preform moderate to high repetitions for set with a Snatch, Clean, Jerk or Clean and Jerk. Pole Vaulters don't vault for repetitions, etc.

    Scrape The Rack

    To reiterate, one of the benefits of Scrape The Rack Exercises, Traditional Smith Machines and Selectorized or Plate Loaded Machines is that it allows you to increase strength and/or increase muscle mass in the primary movers.

    Kenny Croxdale
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2019
    Antti likes this.
  7. guardian7

    guardian7 More than 500 posts

    Yes there is a 45. Thanks I will work on that for a couple of weeks and then try good mornings. My goal is to perform my DL better in Dec. so any lifts that will help that would be great. The gym has lots of machines, great cable station, etc. just almost no space to bench or DL! Sign of the times. I might as well take advantage of the equipment. I am doing cable face pulls, which are great for me as I do a lot of computer work.
  8. guardian7

    guardian7 More than 500 posts

    The 45 Degree Back Raise/Hip Extension Bench was very useful and challenging new exercise enough even unloaded as I included a pause/squeeze for a couple of seconds at the top. Good suggestion. I feel it down my spine and glutes today.

    Both the regular and Smith squat racks are usually busy stations and I have a short workout after class before dinner and it is not my main workout, so I did a circuit of back extensions, hanging leg raises, face pulls, and pullups to get my posterior chain ready for the winter. Hanging to finish. The pullup station has multiple handles and a great semi-neutral position that is the best I have encountered. My workouts are best when I have limited goals and exercises.
    Thanks for the tip.
  9. More than 500 posts

    Pad Position In Back Raise/Hip Extension

    Where you place yourself on the pads plays a role in determining which posterior chain muscles are emphasized in the movement.

    The lower you are on the pads, the greater the involvement of the glutes and hamstrings.

    The higher position shift the load to the erectors.

    Head Position In The Back Raise/Hip Extension

    Your head position in the Back/Hip Extension plays a major role in which posterior chain muscles are loaded.

    1) Throwing you head back as you come up, which many individual do to generate momentum in getting up, shift the load the the erectors.

    One of the issue with throwing the head back is that most (which was on of my issues) is over arching the lower back, hyperextending it; which isn't a good thing.

    2) Neck Packing. This means tucking your head into your chest as you ascend. This maintains a neutral back position, keeping your from hyperextending the lower back.

    Also, only coming up to where you parallel to the floor ensure the workload is placed on the glutes and hamstrings.

    3) Deadlift Neck Packing

    Many, including myself, automatically Neck Pack in the Deadlift; it natural occurs.

    Video Demo of Neck Packing Back Raise/Hip Extension

    This video demonstrates the Back Raise/Hip Extension movement when Neck Packing.

    Good Mornings, 90 Degree and 45 Degree Back Raise/Hip Extension

    Essentially, all three of these are the same movement performed from a different angle. As with a Decline, Flat and Incline Bench Press, the same muscle are worked but from a different angle.

    1) Good Mornings: The loading is in the bottom part of the movement. It develops Limit Strength off the floor in the Deadlift.

    It is an Ascending Strength Curve Movement; hard at the bottom and easier as you ascend.

    2) 45 Degree Back Raise: The loading is in the middle range of the movement. It increases strength in the knee area of the Deadlift.

    It is Bell Shaped Strength Curve Movement; easier at the start and finish and harder in the middle range of the movement.

    3) 90 Degree Back Raise/Hip Extension Movement. It develops strength at the top end of the Deadlift.

    It is an Descending Strength Curve; the first two third of the movement are fairly easy with the top end lockout harder. as you mentioned.

    Increasing Strength At Your Sticking Point

    These variation of a Good Morning allow you to select the right exercise that will increase strength at your sticking point.

    Are All Hip Extension Exercises Created Equal? (Biomechanics of 3 Hip Extension Exercises)

    This podcast by Contreras does a nice job of breaking down the some of the information that I posted.

    Research Article

    This is the research article on Contreras' podcast.

    Kenny Croxdale
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2019
    Antti likes this.
  10. Antti

    Antti More than 2500 posts

    When it comes to 45 and 90 degree hip extensions I wonder what's the most convenient way to load the movement and how the loading affects the mechanics of the movement.
  11. More than 500 posts

    The Ascending Strength Curve

    The Ascending Strength Curve: This is where the movement is harder at the bottom and easier as you ascend to the top.

    Bands and Chains work well in the Ascending Strength Curve. It allows you overload the movement throughout the full range of the movement, like with Good Mornings.

    However, Band and Chains are mot quite as effective for the other two; The Bell Shaped and Descending Strength Curve.

    45 Degree Hip Extensions

    This is Bell Shaped Strength Curve: Easy at the start and finish and hard in the middle.

    90 Degree Hip Extension

    This is the Descending Strength Curve; easy in the first two thirds and hard in the final one third, top end of the movement.

    Performing the 45 and 90 Degree Hip Extensions with weight and/or bands or chains will increase the loading in the movement.

    However, the overloading of the movement is going to occur in the middle of the 45 Degree Hip Extension and the top end of the 90 Degree Hip Extension.

    The Positive Targeted Training Effect

    The positive effect of the 45 Degree Hip Extension is that it specifically allows you to target the mid range part of the movement, increasing strength in that area.

    The positive effect of the 90 Degree Hip Extension is that it specifically allows you to target the top end part of the movement, increasing strength in that area.

    It is similar to placing that bar in a Power Rack specifically where your sticking point is and training it from that position.

    Kenny Croxdale
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2019

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