Smith chair squat exercise

Smith machine chair squat

Exercise details

  • Movement pattern: Squat
  • Mechanics: Compound
  • Force: Push

Main muscles activated

Muscles activated by Smith chair squat exercise


Starting position

  1. Set the Smith machine bar to just under shoulder height.
  2. Stand under the bar with the bar across the back of your shoulders, and grasp it at both sides.
  3. Unlatch the bar by rotating it, and stand erect to lift it off the rack.
  4. Take a step forward and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, with your feet pointing slightly out to the sides.


  1. Keeping your back straight and your torso upright, inhale as you lower the bar by flexing your hips and knees. Descend until your thighs are at least parallel with the floor.
  2. Exhale as you push the bar back up by extending your hips and knees, driving through your heels.
  3. Repeat.
  4. Once finished, latch the bar back on to the rail by rotating it.

Comments and tips

  • Keep your feet flat, your torso upright, your chest up, and your head facing forward.
  • Keep your feet and knees pointing in the same direction (slightly out to the sides).
  • If new to the Smith chair squat, perform the exercise without additional weight until you get used to it.
  • The Smith chair squat is different from the Smith squat and the barbell squat in that you bring your feet forward from under the bar. The more you bring your feet forward, the more emphasis you will place on your glutes and hamstrings instead of your quadriceps. As such, the Smith chair squat is glute-dominant, whereas the Smith and barbell squats are quadriceps-dominant.
  • In most cases, I do not recommend the Smith squat because it’s the same as the barbell squat, except it neither recruits as many stabilizer muscles nor helps to improve your balance. However, for those who want to overload their glutes, I do recommend the Smith chair squat.
  • Use the Smith chair squat to improve your barbell squat, which should always come first.
  • See also the Smith machine kneeling rear kick and the barbell kneeling squat.

Smith chair squat video

Sources, Joint Articulations

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