💪WHY A FREE BENCH IS ALWAYS BETTER THAN A SMITH MACHINE BENCH
I often hear coaches say they like to teach the bench press on the smith machine first, before moving onto a free bench. To each their own but personally – I like to “throw” newbies to the free weights and “teach ’em how to swim”.
Why? Because the smith machine is not like the free bench press, for many reasons.
1️⃣ Different bar paths: The correct way of performing a bench press is by starting with the barbell at shoulder height, allowing it to move in a curved-ish motion on the concentric phase to reach the lower part of your chest at around nipple height. The reason behind this is to keep the shoulders in a safe position throughout the entire execution of the movement, while being able to lift relatively heavy weights.
The smith machine is simply not capable of doing this because the barbell is fixed in a vertical motion, which causes more harm than good since many exercises don’t follow a vertical bar path to begin with. And yes, I know there’s gonna be people mentioning the adjustable smith machine (or whatever its name is) where the barbell can move horizontally as well.. but if that’s the case, then why not simply bench press with a free bar instead?
2️⃣ Some people claim the SM builds “more muscle” but that’s bro-science and the evidence doesn’t show any difference when compared to a standard bench. Actually, the free weight showed better results since the traditional bench press is better when it comes to muscle activation, especially for targeting smaller muscle groups that help stabilize your body when moving heavy weights.
✖️ GOAL: Build Chest size 💪
✖️ TIME: 60 minutes ⏱
This because when you do a BB bench press, you have to work hard to keep the bar from deviating too far in one direction or another, and that requires many other small muscle groups to come in help.
When you use a SM, the machine guides the path of the bar, not requiring much stabilizing muscle work.