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The first time I tackled the Smith Machine I wanted to take a picture of it for Instagram with the tagline, “Hello, Mr. Smith. I will be working with you today.” I didn’t. The Smith Machine is similar to a squat rack except the bar slide on a track. You have a constant spotter and can’t squish yourself with the bar. You can quickly re-rack the weight with a flick of your wrists.

Two things led me to try the Smith Machine. First, I read a cool leg routine in a magazine that used the Smith Machine. Second, I saw a cool leg routine by bikini pro Nikki Blackketter that used the Smith Machine that I wanted to try. If it was good enough for her, it was good enough for me.

Up until then I had been using the Smith Machine for negative rows and level push ups. The first question I asked my trainer was which way do I face if I’m doing leg work? It felt like I could stand either direction, but I didn’t want to be that person standing the wrong way and acting like they knew what they were doing.

I like the Smith Machine because I can use a heavier weight and get a greater range of motion. I like the security of having the bar on a track so I can do lunges with heavier weight. I know the bar isn’t going to tip, I’m not going to tip, and I can abandon ship easier if there’s a problem (there hasn’t been one). I can do more than just squat as I do in the squat racks.

As much as I like the security and stability of the non-moving bar, it takes a little getting used to. I find I have to arrange my feet a little in front of me, which I’m not a huge fan of, but can get over.

And people don’t take the weight off the Smith Machine when they’re done so I don’t know if someone’s just getting a drink and they’ll be back or they’re just being jerks. Just because it’s a little easier doesn’t mean we forget common courtesy.