Mastering the Smith Machine Deadlift: Techniques, Benefits, and More

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By bulksupplementsdirect

Can You Deadlift With Smith Machine?

Table of Contents

 

I am so glad you made it to this back-building, lat-pumping smith machine deadlift post!

 

I am sure you already know the deadlift is the king of upper-body muscle mass and strength development! But did you know it can also be performed with a smith machine (and even dumbbells!)?

 

Yep! You heard that right!

 

You can train your upper back and lats with this machine and get near enough of the same results as the standard barbell deadlift.

 

So I want you to leave this page feeling like you are the king of knowledge.

 

I want you to give this deadlift version a solid 12 weeks and be amazed at how well it adds a new dimension to your back training and upper body growth.

 

In this blog, I will answer all your questions about using the smith machine for deadlifts. I’ll cover everything from proper form to the benefits and even some alternative exercises so that you can understand and adopt this deadlift style.

 

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Recommended Read: >>> How To Get Rid Of Inner Thigh Pain After Squats? <<<

Can You Deadlift On The Smith Machine?

I thought I would start with the exam question, as without answering this, we can’t delve into the other areas!

 

The Smith machine can perform the conventional deadlift if you can execute the movement with strict form.

 

The form is super important when doing the deadlift, so I strongly recommend getting your body used to the deadlift and the mechanics of the exercise. Failure to do this can lead to injuries across the body.

 

Thankfully, I will go through the correct form and everything you need to look out for when performing deadlifts with this equipment.

 

Can You Deadlift With Smith Machine?

What is The Deadlift?

The deadlift is the king of the upper body!

 

It is a compound exercise that hits multiple muscle groups across your body. This makes it an ideal exercise for bodybuilding and powerlifting as it trains the back muscles, leg muscles and nearly everything in between.

 

This traditional compound lift is usually performed with a barbell from the floor or deadlift platform. The exercise aims to grab the barbell from the floor while keeping your back and core tight and using your legs and upper body to drive the barbell up to hip height.

 

The proper form must be adopted; a shoulder-width stance must be adhered to, and power must be generated from the legs to begin the movement and drive the barbell up. You will feel your legs, glutes, arms, shoulders, core and back muscles all working during the exercise.

 

You can expect muscle hypertrophy, muscular endurance and overall athletic performance to increase substantially over 12 weeks from the deadlift.

 

Recommended Read: >>> How to Do The Smith Machine Row? <<<

What is The Smith Machine?

The smith machine is a standard piece of gym equipment you will see in your gym. It looks like a squat or big power rack with two metal frames on either side with the barbell in the middle. This barbell is fixed to the machine and, once unlocked, will move up and down in a vertical line.

 

This vertical fixed plane makes it different from the free-weight barbell. It stops the bar from moving outside of its fixed plane and so does help prevent the risk of injury.

 

Most commercial smith machines are counterbalanced with weight, so when the bar is unlocked, you will find some resistance on the bar. This is by design and helps the equipment to be safer.

 

The smith machine can be used for several barbell exercises, including squats, bench presses, shoulder presses, barbell rows, single-leg deadlifts, and Romanian and trap bar deadlifts.

 

The smith machine is a very versatile piece of gym equipment and can be adapted to perform several exercises.

 

What is the Smith Machine Deadlift?

The Smith machine deadlift is a variation of the traditional compound free-weight deadlifts exercise, performed using the smith machine instead of a conventional barbell.

 

To do the exercise, you would stand with feet shoulder-width apart in front of the Smith machine bar and bend down to grip it with both hands. You lift the bar by generating power from your legs as you straighten them while keeping your back straight until you stand upright. Care must be taken to keep the back straight and core tight to avoid the risk of injury.

 

This compound exercise targets the muscles of the legs, back, shoulders, arms, and hips, similar to the traditional deadlift. The smith machine is often used when you want to focus on a specific muscle group and target it for specific reasons such as muscle growth, strength increase or general performance enhancements.

 

Why would you do a Smith Machine Deadlift?

I have often been asked this question because many believe the smith machine is for lazy people.

 

But this is not true at all. The smith machine can be a fantastic asset to your fitness goals as it:

 

1. It is an excellent way to build strength and muscle mass in your lower body and back, as it can be executed to limit interaction with other muscles.

 

2. The fixed path of the bar is suitable for beginners.

 

3. It is an excellent way to practice form and execution and get used to the full range of motion.

 

4. It hits the muscle groups with a different angle and tension and stimulates growth.

 

Recommended Read: >>> 10 Best Lat Pulldown Alternative Exercises <<<

Deadlift and Muscle Anatomy 101 - Which Muscles Do The Deadlift Work?

The deadlift works the entire body. The upper body is worked after the movement’s midpoint, and the lower body is worked to get the bar to hip height so you are standing straight.

 

Muscle work includes:

 

  • Quads

 

  • Core

 

  • Glutes

 

  • Hamstrings

 

  • Hip flexors

 

  • Lower back muscles

 

  • Upper back muscles

 

  • Arms

 

  • Shoulders

 

Deadlifts Muscles Worked and Anatomy

How To Smith Machine Deadlift

The form is everything where exercise is concerned. You must get into the habit of performing all exercises with the correct form and ensure you execute the full range of motion.

 

Let’s now look at how to perform the smith machine deadlift

 

Muscles Worked: Quads, core, glutes, hamstrings, hip flexors, lower back muscles, upper back muscles, arms, shoulders

 

How to do the smith machine deadlift:

1. Prepare the smith machine and bar with the correct weight, enabling you to perform ten reps.

 

2. Make sure that you set the bar at the right height, which should be around mid-shin level.

 

3. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, facing the bar.

 

4. Keep your back and core tight, shoulders back and down and then bend down with a bend in your knees and firmly grip the bar with both hands, with your palms facing down and your fingers wrapped around the bar.

 

5. At this stage, unlock the smith machine bar from the safety catches, twist it back so it’s free, and aim to power up via the heels, legs and hips.

 

6. Once the bar is hip \ waist height and you are standing straight, pause briefly at the top before lowering the bar back down to the starting position.

 

7. You have now completed one rep! Well done! Repeat for a set of ten reps.

 

Recommended Read: >>> Squat Standards: How Much Should I Squat For My Weight? <<<

Exercise training Tips

  • Begin with lighter weight: The deadlift can be challenging, even for experienced lifters. Use a lighter weight than you think you can handle, gradually increasing the weight as you build strength and perfect your technique. Make warm-ups mandatory in all your training.

 

  • Focus on form: Proper form is crucial for the Smith machine deadlift to be effective and safe. Keep your back straight, your chest up, and your core engaged throughout the movement. Avoid rounding your back or letting your shoulders hunch forward. Make this your mantra on this movement; it will serve you well.

 

  • Vary your foot placement: Vary your foot placements to target different muscle groups. Placing your feet closer together can target your quads, while a wider stance can target your glutes and hamstrings. Find the foot placement that works best for you and your goals.

 

Recommended Read: >>> Bent Over Cable Row – How To Do Them Properly! <<<

Top 5 Smith Machine Deadlift Benefits

  1. Builds strength: Smith machine deadlift is a great exercise to build overall body strength, especially in the leg, back and hip muscles. This exercise helps activate multiple muscle groups at once, making it a very effective strength-building exercise.

  2. Reduces risk of injury: Doing a Smith machine deadlift with proper form can help reduce the risk of injury. Maintaining a shoulder-width stance, using appropriate weight, and keeping your back straight to avoid hurting yourself are essential. The fixed bar path also limits any risk of injury, reducing the bar from moving uncontrollably.

  3. Improves muscle mass: Regularly doing the Smith machine deadlift can increase muscle mass, which is essential for those interested in bodybuilding or powerlifting. As you continue doing this exercise, you may notice your muscles growing in size.

  4. Enhances athletic performance: Smith machine deadlift helps improve athletic performance by increasing core stability, balance, and strength. This can help improve your performance in other exercises and sports as well.

  5. Versatile exercise: There are many variations of the Smith machine deadlift that you can do to target different muscle groups. These variations can add variety to your workout routine and help you avoid boredom while still receiving the benefits of this exercise.

Overall, the Smith machine deadlift is an excellent exercise for building strength, reducing the risk of injury, increasing muscle mass, enhancing athletic performance, and adding variety to your workout routine.

 

Recommended Read: >>> Best Gym Machines for Glutes <<<

Volume, Sets and Reps

Deadlifts should be performed no more than once a week and with a limit of 5 working sets and a 5-rep to 10-rep range.

 

The exercise impacts and works the entire body and is very stress-inducing if you perform it too much. So balancing the total volume and sets with other back exercises is critical.

 

Recommended Read: >>> Lat Pushdowns: The Secret to a Strong and Defined Back <<<

How to Adopt Smith Deadlifts To Your Existing Workouts?

Once you’ve decided to adopt Smith machine deadlifts and want to add them to your existing workout routine, you should keep a few things in mind :

 

1) Order of exercise: Add the smith deadlifts at the start of the back workout and warm up thoroughly. The deadlift works the entire body, so performing them when you are fresh will yield the most benefit

 

 

2) Volume: Keep the number of sets and reps based on your goals. I recommend performing no more than five sets of 10 reps and only doing deadlifts once per week. Monitor the results and progress and adjust accordingly.

 

 

3) Stretching: Stretch the body once you complete your back training. This will aid in recovery by encouraging blood flow to the muscle groups.

 

 

4) Numer of exercises: Try to limit the back workout to no more than 16 sets and do not perform all sets to failure. This will quickly lead to overtraining and injury.

 

 

Here are 2 Smith Machine Deadlift-based Workouts

Back Workout with Smith Deadlifts #1

Back Workout with Smith Deadlifts #1

Recommended Read: >>> What Muscles Do Squats Work? A Brief Guide  <<<

Back Workout with Smith Deadlifts #2

Back Workout with Smith Deadlifts #2

5 Tips To Maximize Smith Machine Deadlifts

Start with proper form: Before adding any weight to the bar, learning the proper form for the deadlift is essential. This includes keeping your back straight, bending at the hips and knees, and lifting with your legs instead of your back. You can start with just the bar or lighter weights to practice your form before increasing the weight.

 

Use appropriate weights: The Smith machine allows for easy weight adjustments, but it’s essential to use appropriate weights that challenge you without compromising your form. Start with a weight that allows you to perform 8-10 reps with proper form, and gradually increase the weight over time as you get stronger. Heavyweights have their place, but ensure you work up to them slowly and carefully.

 

Focus on the muscles: Deadlifts are a compound exercise that works multiple muscle groups, including the glutes, hamstrings, and lower back. To maximize your results, focus on engaging these muscles throughout the lift. You can do this by squeezing your glutes and hamstrings as you lift and lowering the weight under control.

 

Add variety: The Smith machine can be used for various deadlift variations, such as sumo or Romanian. Adding variety to your workout can help you target different muscle groups and prevent boredom.

 

Rest and recover: Deadlifts can be intense on your body, so allowing time for rest and recovery is essential. Aim to do deadlifts once a week and allow at least 48 hours between sessions to give your muscles time to recover.

 

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3 Key Things You Must Avoid When Doing Smith Deadlifts

Here are my top three things I want you to avoid doing when performing machine deadlifts:

 

Don’t round the back: Rounding your back puts the lower back and spine in a vulnerable position, increasing the risk of severe injury. Focus on keeping your back straight throughout the lift by engaging your core muscles and keeping your shoulders back.

 

Using too much weight: Avoid lifting weights that compromise form. The risk of injury is too significant.

 

Jerky movements: Smith deadlifts should be done in a controlled and smooth motion. Avoid jerky movements or sudden changes in direction, as this can unnecessarily strain your joints and muscles. Instead, focus on using a slow and deliberate motion throughout the lift, briefly pausing at the top before lowering the weight.

 

Recommended Read: >>> What Is Barbell Hack Squat And How Can It Help You? <<<

6 Alternatives to Smith Machine Deadlifts

The smith machine deadlift is an excellent alternative to the conventional deadlift.

 

It works nearly all the same muscles, offers a reduced risk of injury and is easier to set up and perform.

 

But other variations of deadlifts can also target the upper and lower body with the same scope and intensity.

 

Below are six of the ones I have used with my clients that have given excellent results:

 

#1 Barbell Deadlifts

Barbell deadlifts are the most popular form of this exercise and work the entire body, focusing mainly on the back muscles.

 

 

How to do barbell deadlift: 

 

 

  1. Load the bar up with a weight that enables you to perform 15 reps.

  2. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart with the barbell on the ground before you.

  3. Keep your shoulders down and back, core tight, and then using your legs and hips, bend over and grab the barbell.

  4. Begin to stand up whilst holding the barbell and use the force generated from your legs and heels to stand up straight.

  5. When you reach the top of the movement, pause for a count of 2, flex your back and lower the barbell back down.

  6. You have now completed one rep. Continue for nine more reps, and that will complete this set.

 

#2 Dumbbell Deadlifts

These deadlifts aren’t commonly performed, but when done correctly hit the muscles with a different level of intensity.

 

How to do dumbell deadlifts:

 

  1. Grab a set of dumbbells from the rack that will enable you to do ten reps and place them in front of you.

  2. Standing with feet shoulder-width apart, bend down with back straight and core tight and grab the dumbbells.

  3. Using your legs and heels, drive up whilst holding the dumbbells until you stand straight and the dumbbells are in front of you.

  4. Flex your back for two seconds, then reverse the movement to the floor.

  5. Awesome work! You have now completed one rep. Perform another ten.

 

#3 Kettlebell Deadlifts

These deadlifts enable your body to be worked with the weight by your sides. This results in a slight change of muscle activation that hits your shoulders and upper back.

 

 

How to do kettlebell deadlifts:

 

 

  1. Grab a kettlebell that will enable you to do ten reps and place it in front of you.

  2. Standing with feet shoulder-width apart, bend down with back straight and core tight and grab the kettlebell.

  3. Using your legs and heels, drive up whilst holding the dumbbells until you stand straight and the kettlebell is in front of you.

  4. Flex your back for two seconds, then reverse the movement to the floor.

  5. Awesome work! You have now completed one rep. Perform another ten.

 
 

#4 Smith Machine Rack Pulls

The Smith machine rack pull is an awesome exercise to pack on size and strength to the back and traps. They focus on the top part of the deadlift movement, allowing you to lift more weight and, therefore, more intensity.

 

How to do the smith rack pull:

 

  1. Set the smith bar up with the right weight and height. Keep the height of the bar aligned with the top of your shin.

  2. Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, keep your back flat and shoulders down.

  3. Bend over from the legs and waist and grab the bar, making sure you unlock it from the machine.

  4. Brace your core and stand up straight and press your hips forward, keep knees slightly bent, ensuring the bar travels up with you. Hold for a count of two at the top of the movement and then reverse the movement.

  5. Awesome job! You have just done one rep! Now perform nine more.

 

#5 Still Leg Deadlifts

How to do stiff leg deadlifts:

 

  1. Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart and holding a barbell with an overhand grip in front of your thighs. Keep your arms straight and your shoulders back.

  2. Take a deep breath and engage your core muscles.

  3. Keeping your back straight and your legs almost completely straight (with a slight bend in the knees), hinge forward at your hips and lower the bar down your thighs until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings.

  4. Keep the barbell close to your legs as you lower it down.

  5. Once you reach the bottom of the movement, pause and use your hamstrings and glutes to pull the bar back up to the starting position.

  6. Repeat for nine more reps. You got this!

 

#6 Romanian Deadlifts

How to do Romanian deadlifts:

 

  1. Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a barbell with an overhand grip in front of your thighs. Keep your arms straight and your shoulders back.

  2. Take a deep breath and engage your core muscles.

  3. Keeping your back straight, hinge at your hips and lower the bar down your thighs until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings.

  4. Be sure to keep the weight close to your legs as you lower it down.

  5. Once you reach the bottom of the movement, pause and use your hamstrings and glutes to pull the weight back up to the starting position.

  6. As you lift the weight back up, keep your back straight and your core engaged. Squeeze your glutes at the top of the movement.

  7. Repeat for nine more reps! You got this!

 

FAQs On Training Back with Smith Machine Deadlifts

1. What is a Smith machine deadlift and how does it differ from a traditional deadlift?

The smith machine deadlift is an exercise that is performed on a specially adapted piece of gym equipment that has a fixed vertical plane. The bar can only go up and down, so the deadlift is performed across this limited range of motion. The traditional free-weight deadlift has no such restrictions and is performed from the floor and allows the person to move freely with the bar during its range of motion. 

2. What muscle groups are targeted during a Smith machine deadlift?

The smith machine deadlift targets the upper body (back, shoulders, traps, arms and core) and lower body (quads, hamstrings, calves). The exercise is known as a compound movement because it hits multiple muscle groups.

3. What are the benefits of incorporating Smith machine deadlifts into a strength training routine?

Smith machine deadlifts can target specific phases of the full range of motion. So for example, you could perform rack deadlifts that can focus on the top of the movement and so building strength in that range. 

4. How can proper form be maintained while performing Smith machine deadlifts?

The correct form for smith deadlifts involves keeping your back straight, core tight, shoulders back and down and always driving the bar with heels and legs. The power to start the movement must come from the lower body, and then from the midpoint, the back and upper body must take over, ensuring that your entire body gets worked.

5. What are some common mistakes to avoid when performing Smith machine deadlifts?

You want to avoid poor form and using weights that are too heavy. These issues will limit progress and significantly increase the chances of injury.

6. Can Smith machine deadlifts help with building muscle mass and bodybuilding?

A smith machine is an alternative option you can use when you want to target the desired muscle with more intensity. By its very design, the smith machine places more focus and muscle activation on the targeted area as it doesn’t need as much supporting help from secondary muscles. This means that you can target the primary muscle with more focus.

7. How can Smith machine deadlifts benefit powerlifting and enhance athletic performance?

The smith machine will enable you to focus on a reduced range of motion due to the nature of the equipment and its fixed plane. This means that you can target various phases in the range of motion. For example, by performing rack deadlifts, you can focus on the top of the movement and apply more strength and mass gains in the upper body.

8. What are some different deadlift variations that can be performed on a Smith machine?

Several variations of deadlifts can be performed on a Smith machine. Here are a few examples:

 

Sumo Deadlift: In this variation, you stand with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart and your toes pointed out. Grab the barbell with a wide grip and lift the weight using your legs and glutes.

 

Romanian Deadlift: In this variation, you keep your legs straight and hinge at the hips to lower the barbell towards the ground. This exercise targets your hamstrings and glutes.

 

Stiff-Leg Deadlift: Similar to the Romanian deadlift, this variation also targets your hamstrings and glutes, but you keep your legs straight throughout the movement.

 

Trap Bar Deadlift: This variation uses a special hexagonal barbell that allows you to stand inside the barbell and lift from a more neutral position. It can be a good option for those with limited mobility or back issues.

 

Deficit Deadlift: In this variation, you stand on a raised platform or block to increase the range of motion and challenge your muscles more.

 

9. How do Smith machine deadlifts compare to other barbell exercises such as squats, bench press, and shoulder press?

Smith machine deadlifts are barbell exercises that can be compared to other barbell exercises, such as squats, bench presses, and shoulder presses. Here are some key differences and similarities:

 

Range of motion: Smith machine deadlifts have a limited range of motion compared to squats, bench presses, and shoulder presses. The barbell is fixed to a track, which restricts movement. Squats, bench press, and shoulder press all involve lifting the barbell through a full range of motion.

 

Muscles worked: Smith machine deadlifts primarily work the muscles in your legs, glutes, and core and back muscles. Squats also work these muscles but also engage your core and back muscles to a greater extent. Bench press and shoulder press primarily work your chest and shoulders but also engage your triceps and core muscles.

 

Equipment needed: Smith machine deadlifts require a Smith machine, while squats, bench presses, and shoulder presses can be performed with a regular barbell and weight plates. This may make Smith machine deadlifts less accessible for some individuals.

 

Safety: Smith machine deadlifts can be safer for those with limited mobility or injuries, as the fixed track can provide stability and support. Squats, benches, and shoulder presses require proper form and technique to avoid injury.

 

10. What are some warm-up exercises that can be done prior to performing Smith machine deadlifts?

Warm-ups need to be mandatory in all training, and it would help if you walked on the treadmill for 10 minutes and then did some very light exercise. So let’s say, for example, you can perform 100kg for ten reps on the Deadlifts, and you can begin by completing 2 or 3 sets of 40kg of 10.

11. Can Smith machine deadlifts be used for high-intensity training and compound movements?

You can perform smith deadlifts for high intensity if you warm up correctly and are ready to hit the intense sets.

12. Are there any precautions that should be taken when using the Smith machine for machine-assisted exercises?

You must ALWAYS warm up and get the muscles ready for any heavier weights.

12. Are there any precautions that should be taken when using the Smith machine for machine-assisted exercises?

You must ALWAYS warm up and get the muscles ready for any heavier weights.

13. What is the recommended training frequency for incorporating Smith machine deadlifts into a workout routine?

Limit smith machine deadlifts to no more than five sets of 10 reps per week at the very maximum

14. How can nutrition and diet complement a Smith machine deadlift routine to achieve fitness goals?

Nutrition and diet are the key components to ensure your body recovers and grows. We train to break down the muscle in the gym, but we recover and grow the muscles outside the gym. So your food, nutrition and sleep are super important.

15. Is deadlift with smith machine better than free weight?

Not necessarily. If you want to target the back muscles, the smith machine activates more muscles in the upper back. If you want to target the back and overall body, the free-weight barbell deadlift recruits more muscle fibres across multiple muscles.

16. Can you lift heavier on a Smith machine?

You will be able to lift slightly more on the smith machine as you have the smith machine bar rail that is counterbalanced with weight.

17. How much heavier can you lift on a Smith machine?

You can expect to lift 40 lbs more on the smith machine deadlift than the traditional deadlift.

18. Is the Smith machine deadlift the same as the barbell?

The free barbell deadlift is not the same as the smith machine deadlift. The smith version only allows the barbell to move in a fixed vertical plane, whereas the free-weight version can move across all paths.

19. Can I perform smith machine Romanian deadlifts?

You can perform the smith machine Romanian deadlift; all it needs is a slight change in form to target the hamstrings.

20. What other workouts can complement my Smith Machine Deadlift routine?

In addition to the smith machine deadlift, you might also want to consider incorporating the Arnold Back Workout, which is known for developing impressive back muscles.

21. Are there compound exercises for a more comprehensive back workout?

Yes, you can incorporate Compound Back Exercises into your routine. These exercises are designed to engage multiple muscle groups at once, offering a more efficient workout.

22. I want a broader, V-shaped back. What workouts should I do?

The Wide Back Workout is a great routine that targets the muscles of the upper and lower back. This will help you achieve that imposing V-shaped torso.

23. What are some good alternatives to the smith machine deadlift?

If you’re looking for a similar exercise that targets the same muscle groups, consider the Rack Pulls Alternative.

24. How can I incorporate cable workouts into my routine?

Exercises like the Lat Pushdowns, Bent Over Cable Row, and V Bar Lat Pulldown are great Cable Back Workouts that you can add to your routine.

25. Can I do lat exercises without weights or machines?

Absolutely, Lat Exercises with Bands offer a versatile and accessible way to work your back muscles from almost anywhere.

26. What are some effective dumbbell exercises for the lats?

A Dumbbell Lat Workout can be a great way to engage your lats, providing a different kind of stimulus compared to machine-based exercises.

27. Is it beneficial to work my back and shoulders together?

Yes, doing a Back and Shoulders Workout can be beneficial. Many compound exercises engage both these muscle groups, providing a comprehensive upper-body workout.

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Recommended Read: >>> How Much Does The Smith Machine Bar Weigh? <<<

Closing Thoughts : Can You Deadlift With Smith Machine?

Adding smith deadlifts to your workout regime will add another variation to your training and muscle-building capabilities.

 

The exercise targets near-enough the same muscles as a conventional deadlift but limits the range of motion in a vertical plane. This, in turn, removes most of the muscle activation from secondary muscles and hits the back and upper body with increased intensity.

 

So add this deadlift variation to your back training and witness the extra back growth it will bring!

 

(oh, and do keep in touch and check in with us regularly for more fantastic content. For a complete list of our previous blog posts, please go here)

 

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