Smith Press Machine – Expert Overview of Equipment & Safety Features

In this document, sports and recreation expert, Dr. Laura M. Miele-Pascoe provides an introduction to the Smith Press Machine including basic safety features and steps that should be followed to reduce the likelihood of injury.

Smith Press Safety Features
Smith Press Safety Features

Smith Press Machine Casework

The sports and recreation experts at Robson Forensic have recently seen an upswing in case inquiries involving the Smith Press Machine. In our experience, as both forensic experts and as fitness industry professionals, injuries involving these machines typically fall into one of the following categories:

  1. Improper use of the machine (user error)
  2. Improper maintenance or supervision of machine (facility operations error)

About the Smith Press Machine

The Smith Press Machine is a self guiding exercise apparatus; it is designed to provide added stability, balance, and other safeguards compared to traditional free weight exercises.

The catch rods located along the vertical supports can be used as a safety feature by way of engaging the hook/bar-catch built into the bar. The hook is engaged with a twist of the wrist, which can be locked to any one of the catch rods, which are typically 3 to 6 inches apart. There is an additional built-in safety feature, which is an adjustable stop that can be set by the operator to limit the lowest travel height of the bar.

Safety Features of the Smith Press Machine

  1. Spring Collar Clamps-This device is used to secure the weighted plates on the bar while executing the exercise.
  2. Catch Rod - Every 3-6 inches (depending on the manufacturer) these are fastened to the inside of where the bar glides.
  3. Adjustable Stops - Used as a safety device to be set a minimum bar height depending on the exercise. (may not be possible with all exercises)
  4. Bar- weight unloaded 15 lbs.
  5. Hook or Bar Catch (depending on manufacturer).

How to Prevent Injuries Associated with this Machine:

Equipment Users:

  1. Ask for assistance if you are unfamiliar with an exercise machine.
  2. Warm-up before lifting weights and use proper form.
  3. Progress with weight loading from lighter to heavier.
  4. Engage the catch rods in between sets.
  5. If feasible, utilize the adjustable stops.

Facility Operators:

  1. Ensure that clients are properly trained to use this machine as intended.
  2. Maintain machine according to manufacturer and inspect regularly.
  3. Ensure that warning / instructional stickers are attached and in good condition.
  4. Increase supervision around this machine as it is commonly used with heavier weights and higher-risk exercises.​

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