Power Racks & Smith Machines

Power Racks and Smith Machines

Putting together a home strength training gym presents a lot of challenges, mainly because of safety concerns. At a public gym, you can easily ask another lifter to spot for you while you take on a challenging weight, but at home, it's a different story. Since you have to stick to a routine, more often than not you will be lifting on your own, and that can be dangerous. Luckily, power racks and smith machines alleviate this danger with their rigid design and safety features.

Smith Machines

Bodybuilding Smith machines and power racks were invented by bodybuilder Jack LaLanne in the 1950's, which Rudy Smith later improved. It uses a rectangular steel frame, and along the pillars are horizontal pins spaced about 2 inches apart. The bar runs along vertical rails. It is attached permanently to the frame and uses rigid hooks on both sides that lock into the pins when the bar is twisted back. This allows you to rack the bar at any stage of the workout, making it safer to use with heavier weights when squatting.

Power Racks

Weight lifting power racks and Smith machines allow for greater freedom of movement but have their own safety features built in. It looks just like an open cage, using four vertical steel beams that have pin holes spaced evenly along them. Two parallel heavy duty rods or pins can be slotted in the holes and essentially act as a stopper for the bar. Power racks with pin holes spaced an inch apart are the most ideal, as people of any height can use them with almost no improvisation needed. The power rack is also versatile. Just put a bench under it, and you have yourself a self-spotting bench press system. It also allows for a range of exercises other than lifting. You can use the bar as a point for chin ups, rows, and pull ups.

The Good and the Bad

Smith machines are criticised for the restriction they put on your movement as a consequence of the runner system, but some experts endorse them for their ability to efficiently target particular upper body muscle groups. Power racks with pin holes spaced apart farther than an inch may require you to make some modifications to suit your particular height.