Growing up I didn’t know sh** about training or lifting weights. I just did what looked fancy and cool. Go figure! Anyhow, I guess it’s safe to say (now that I’m a fitness professional) that I did a lot of things in the gym that were a complete waste of my time.
1. Smith Machine Squats
Photo Credit: Bodybuilding.com
It’s always up for debate whether the squat or the deadlift is the king of all exercises (topic for another day). One thing is for sure though, regardless if you’re an athlete or training to burn fat, you must… SQUAT! Squats are a must for any training program out there—performing them on a smith machine, however; will not cut it.
Squats on the smith machine would be the equivalent of cooking a ribeye steak in a microwave (why would you do that?!). You’ll end up cooking the damn thing, but the taste and texture of the meat won’t be as enticing as if you were to grill it. Here’s what I’m trying to convey: any exercise or implement that facilitates your prime movers (big muscles) in absence of your stabilizers (smaller muscles), will lead to the development of muscular imbalances and ultimately, injuries. There are tons of variations that induce a better training effect while at the same time, teaching the individual how to be proficient at squatting.
I think I speak for every qualified trainer and coach out there—the Goblet Squat is the go-to exercise to learn how to squat properly. Goblet squats induce a far better training effect while limiting the stress on your lower back.
Another great alternative is a landmine squat. I picked this up from Ben Bruno when I was out in LA back in November. Now, in comparison to the goblet squat, this variation does a great job of ingraining the idea of keeping an upright torso—limiting factor for the goblet squat—because if you lean too far forward the bar will jam into your sternum.
To sum it all up, there is no rhyme or reason to which variation you should do, because you’re better off doing either of them as opposed to doing them on a smith machine.
2. Unstable surface training
I saw a dude doing dumbbell squats the other day… ON A BOSU! I cringed every time I saw him do another set. Now, if you’re looking to burn fat, build muscle, or become a better athlete, you won’t—simply because you won’t be able to use as much weight (light weight=not enough stimulus to induce muscle growth) on an unstable surface. If it’s not for rehabilitative purposes, stop doing them! If you can’t do a squat with correct form, then don’t do them on an unstable surface. Training on an unstable surface such as a bosu ball, airex pad, or dyna-disc does not improve your performance or strengthen your core—there is no validity. The only thing it does is make the exercise (unnecessarily) harder—it does not translate to improved proficiency in a prescribed movement.
Photo Credit: tnation.com
So, do me and yourself a favor and stay clear of these exercises. Stick with the basics.