Smith Machine Lunge – Guide, Benefits and Tips


The Smith Machine lunge is an excellent alternative exercise to your dumbbell, barbell, or other weighted lunges. This exercise will develop your Quadriceps (quads) and Gluteus Maximus (glutes), as well as your hamstring safely.

For beginners, the Smith Machine can be used to familiarize yourself with the lunge movement, particularly with a trainer’s assistance.

For you more advanced weight trainers, the Smith Machine Lunge can be implemented periodically after other weighted lunges have become stale. Allowing the experienced lifter more variety and an alternative way to kick-start new muscle growth through variety.

Main Benefit of the The Smith Machine Lunge

Many people have trouble balancing weight on their shoulders, especially novice lifters.

When you perform lunges within the Smith Machine your form can be easily controlled. Although, you will be using less supporting muscles to balance the weight. However, by performing the lunge movement within the Smith Machine, you will have better form and can isolate the core muscle groups. Additionally, you will be to do the lunge without a spotter if desired.

You will now have increased control and more balance with the Smith Machine making it a safer alternative to free weight lunges.

Quadriceps (Leg) Muscle Physiology Summary

Quadriceps Anatomy

Your Quadricep is made up of four major muscle groups.

  • Rectus Femoris – originates on the outside front of the pelvis, ends in the quadriceps tendon with the main purpose for hip flexion and knee extension.
  • Vastus Lateralis – is located on outside the front of the thigh and is partially responsible for knee extension.
  • Vastus Medialis – common name teardrop, is inside of femur; thick near the bottom above the knee, and is partially responsible for knee extension.
  • Vastus Intermedius – lies beneath the Lateralis and Medialis and is partially responsible for knee extension.

Smith Machine Lunge Summary

  • Main Muscle(s) Worked: QuadricepsOther Muscles (Secondary) Worked: Glutes, Hamstrings
  • Equipment: Smith Machine
  • Mechanics Type: Compound (When two or more joint movements are involved).
  • Force: Push (Concentric contraction of the target muscle when movement is away from the center of the body).
  • Utility: Auxiliary (An optional exercise that may supplement a basic exercise. Auxiliary exercises may place greater relative intensity on a specific muscle or a head of a muscle).
  • Other Muscles (Secondary) Worked: Glutes, Hamstrings

Target Muscles Used for Smith Machine Lunge


Synergist Muscles Worked When Performing Smith Machine Lunge
  • Gluteus Maximus
  • Adductor Magnus
  • Soleus
Stabilizers Worked When Performing Smith Machine Lunge
  • Erictor Spinae
  • Tibialis Anterior
  • Gluteus Medius
  • Gluteus Minimus
Dynamic Stabilizers Worked When Performing Smith Machine Lunge
  • Tibialis Anterior
  • Gluteus Medius
  • Gluteus Minimus
Dynamic Stabilizers Worked When Performing Smith Machine Lunge
  • Gastrocnemius
  • Hamstrings
Antagonist Stabilizers Worked When Performing Smith Machine Lunge
  • None

Correct Exercise Procedure Use for Smith Machine Lunge

Positioning Your Body

Position your body under bar and place bar on upper back (trapezius). Stand with one leg forward, with your front knee directly over your ankle. Remember to keep your knees slightly bent with feet hip-width apart. Keeping your back heel up, toes pointed forward will help you maintain good body alignment (abs tight, chest up, back straight).

Contraction Motion

With a controlled motion, lower your body by bending knee and hip. Keeping your back straight and maintain good body alignment. Maintain your front foot flat on the floor. Then continue lowering your body until just before your back knee touches the ground.

Extention Motion

Now, while maintaining control or the bar push against the ground with your front leg through your front heel. Finally pushing as you rise and return to starting position. Continue until you complete your desired repetitions. Once you are complete with one leg, then switch legs and repeat. Additionally, you can also alternate legs between reps.

Tips for Performing Smith Machine Lunge

By using the tips mention below you will help your muscle(s) fully develop by incorporating more muscle fibers per rep, thus increasing the muscle’s size and strength.

  • Practice proper form and control – Starting with this exercise, or any exercise you have not performed before, using lightweight until you have the full range of movement until you have proper extension and contraction completed. This is important for your muscles full development.
  • Put pad or towel on the bar – Use a pad or a rolled up towel around the bar. This will protect your lower neck muscles (traps).
  • Push weight through front heel – Keep your front foot flat on the floor throughout the movement and push your weight through your front heel as you rise back to the starting position.
  • Keep your knees in line with toes – Keeping your knees in line with toes will help you avoid turning your knees in or out and prevent injuries.
  • Avoid locking out your knees – Do not lock out your knee when in starting position, allow muscles to relax before the next repetition.
  • Do not compromise form – Do not compromise your form, keep your back straight, chest up and abs tight. This will help you maintain good body alignment.
  • Do not allow knee go beyond toe – Make sure your front leg is positioned to where your knee is over the ankle throughout the movement. Do not allow your knee to move forward beyond your toes to avoid possible knee injury and/or loss of balance.

Frequent Mistakes Made While Performing Smith Machine Lunge

Performing the exercise improperly, often referred to as cheating, will not allow for your muscles and muscle fibers to be used for their fullest potential. As a result, you will not achieve your desired muscle development.

  • The movement is performed too fast – If your movement is performed too fast, you will not allow full usage of all muscle fibers.
  • Using too much weight – A mistake for many lifters is trying to lift too much weight. Make sure to use the correct weight that will allow you to use proper form and the full range of motion.
  • Twisting upper body and jerky motion – Avoid twisting your upper body and using jerky motions to lift the weight. Doing this will definitely put you at risk for an injury.
  • Locking your knee – Locking your knee will allow the quad to rest and possibly cause knee strain.
  • Limiting the range of motion – Many lifters do not go all the way down or do not squeeze at the top of the movement. If the full range of motion is not used, less muscle fibers will be worked and less growth will occur.
  • Allowing knee to surpass the toe – By allowing the knee to move forward beyond the toe can put you at risk for knee strain, knee injury, ankle injury and/or loss of balance.

Variations of Exercise or Equipment Use for Smith Machine Lunge

A variation of a specific exercise is intended to work different subgroups of muscles or work the same muscles in slightly different ways. There are many exercise variations to this strength exercise. Some of the variations use for the Smith Machine Lunge:

  • Smith Machine Rear Lunge – Similar to the lunge, except you use a rear lunging movement with same muscles and stabilizers.
  • Smith Machine Split Squat – This has an auxiliary utility allowing you to concentrate on one quadriceps at a time similar to lunges. You can either alternate legs during a set or one leg at a time then switching. Flexible hip flexors are important in keeping the torso upright during this movement.
  • Smith Machine Squat – Smith machine squat also targets your quads with basic utility and most of the same stabilizers, but with added Antagonist Stabilizers Rectus Abdominals and Obliques.
  • Barbell Lunge – Barbell lunge is same as Smith Machine Lunge with same synergist and stabilizers being used. The difference with a barbell lunge is you need to take additional precautions balance when using more stabilizing muscles.
  • Dumbbell Lunge – Same as the barbell lunge except with the additional stabilizers Levator Scapulae, Trapezius Upper and Lower.

Other Exercises to Compliment Smith Machine Lunge

  • Smith Good-Morning – This is an isolated movement for developing the hamstrings which will aid when performing lunge exercises.
  • Smith Straight Leg Dead Lift – This is another hamstring exercise with additional stabilizers that will aid in performing lunges.
  • Sled Seated Leg Press – Is great for developing the Gluteus Maximus with quadriceps use as synergists and hamstrings as stabilizers. This exercise is great for strengthening the gluts for helping with lunge exercises.
  • Hyperextensions – Hyperextensions will strengthen the lower back which is use when performing lunge exercises.

Bottom Line

Smith Machine lunges are an excellent choice for working your quadriceps also glutes and hamstrings. You will be able to perform a slightly longer lunge. Which will allow for more emphasis to be directed to the Gluteus Maximus. Additionally, Smith Machine lunges can be a great addition to your workout routine. You can perform this with heavier weight without a spotter, because of the suspended barbell, that moves on steel runners with safety pegs.

Checkout These Other Strength Training Posts

Graphic image of a muscular man performing Hyperextension.

Hyperextension: Terrific Body Weight Exercise For Your Lower Back

Do you want to improve your back strength and stability? Hyperextension exercises are a great way to do so. Check out my latest blog post for tips on how to perform hyperextensions safely and effectively. Strengthen your back and feel better today! #hyperextension #backstrength #fitness

About The Author

Join Us On Social Media

Copyright © 2008 - | Privacy | MuscleMagFitness Powered By |