How to Do a Front Squat Using a Smith Machine

Smith machine front squats can add variety to your strength-training routine. This compound exercise mainly works your quadriceps at the front of your upper legs but also engages your glutes, calves, hamstrings and lower back. The Smith machine has safety hooks that allow you to perform exercises without a spotter, which can be essential when you're lifting a challenging amount of weight. It also helps balance the weight for you, so you can focus on your form. To avoid injuries and for optimal results, learn proper form and consult your doctor before starting a new exercise regimen.

Step 1

Adjust the barbell so it's about shoulder height on the Smith machine.

Step 2

Load the barbell with the weight you want to use. If you're new to using the Smith machine, perform the exercise with just the weight of the bar. Once you develop proper form, add a small amount of weight and gradually increase it as you get stronger.

Step 3

Position yourself behind the bar and spread your feet hip-width apart. The bar should be slightly above the front of your shoulders, and your feet should be directly under the bar.

Step 4

Place your hands on the bar, shoulder-width apart, with your elbows bent and facing forward. Your upper arm should be parallel to the floor, and your palms should face your shoulders. Alternatively, cross your arms over each other and place them shoulder-width on top of the barbell.

Step 5

Push up through you heels and rotate the bar backward to disengage the safety hooks.

Step 6

Bend your knees and your hips, push your glutes back and slowly lower yourself straight down as if to sit in a chair. Aim to lower yourself until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Stop sooner if you can't maintain the natural curve in your back. Avoid looking down during the exercise -- keep your eyes straight ahead so your neck and back stay straight. Don't allow your knees to go over your toes.

Step 7

Push through your heels and straighten your legs to come back to the starting position. Keep your knees soft and immediately go into the next repetition. After completing a set, rotate the bar forward to engage the safety hooks.


  • Complete repetitions and sets according to your fitness level, stopping when you still have enough strength in your legs to control the weight of the bar.
  • Inhale before lowering your body down and exhale on the way up, making sure to fully exhale at the top of the exercise.
  • The first time you perform the exercise it's a good idea to have a personal trainer or someone familiar with the exercise and the machine explain it to you.
  • Perform Smith machine front squats in front of a mirror so you can monitor your form.