Angled Smith Machine Squat Which Way To Face, What’s the Best 1, Forward/Front or Backward?

Angled Smith machine squats stand out as a potential lower-body exercise, fostering strength and muscle development. When considering an angled Smith machine squat, which way to face—whether forward, backward or lateral—the squat direction significantly influences muscle engagement, joint alignment and desired goals. I will unveil the biomechanical complexities and muscle activation of each facing direction. 

What Are Angled Smith Machine Squats?

Angled Smith machine squats are a variation of traditional squats; this exercise is performed on the Smith machine, a piece of gym equipment featuring a guided barbell pathway along fixed rails at an inclined angle of 7 to 15 degrees. Hence, triggering different muscles group as compared to regular free-weight squats. 

Which Factors Influence the Facing Direction?

An individual’s workout goals and personal comfort define the optimal facing direction while performing the angled Smith machine squats. The facing direction, in this context, refers to the orientation of the person to the Smith machine during the exercise.

Angled Smith Machine Squats Which Way to face?

Which Muscles to Work?

How you are supposed to face on the Smith machine depends on your workout goals; for example, facing forward might emphasize the quadriceps, while facing away could engage the glutes and hamstrings to a greater degree.

Body Mechanics

The natural range of motion and alignment of joints, such as the knees, hips, and spine, can influence how comfortable and practical a specific facing direction is for you.


In Smith machine squats, your stabilizer muscles aren’t involved to the extent they are in free-weight barbell squats. But stability and control throughout the Smith machine squats are essential. The facing direction that can prove less swaying for you is advantageous.  

Reducing Strain

If facing forward puts less strain on your lower back, muscles or joints, it is your preferred way of facing. It would allow you to have more effective and intense workouts. 

Angled Smith Machine Squat Which Way To Face?, Foroward, Backward or Sideways, Benefits & Considerations.

Facing Forward/Front In Angled Smith Machine Squats

Angled Smith Machine Squats Forward Facing

When facing the Smith machine in the front direction, your quad muscles (in front of your thighs) get hit a ton, and you will experience more natural alignment of the knees, hips, and spine.

Going nice and deep (your hips should touch your calf muscles) in squats ensure that your quadriceps are stretching correctly.


It would help if you considered that forward facing doesn’t engage glute muscles effectively; you’d want to try other variations, to work glutes. Also, you may experience knee discomfort. 

Facing Backward In Angled Smith Machine Squats

When facing away from the machine encourages a more excellent range of hip extension, which primarily emphasizes the glutes (buttocks) and hamstrings (muscles on the back of the thighs) muscles engagement. This technique will prove helpful if you aim to strengthen the posterior chain.

Another benefit of squatting with your back to the Smith machine is that it may promote a more upright posture, reducing the risk of lower back strain. 


One of the key considerations while facing away from the Smith machine might limit your visibility, making monitoring your form and movement slightly more challenging.

Angled Smith Machine Squats, Facing Backward

Facing Sideways

Sideway facing emphasizes the engagement of the inner & outer thigh muscles (adductors and abductors), facilitating lateral movements. Experiment with different foot angles to find the most comfortable and practical stance.

Best Practical Recommendations to Smith Machine Correct Direction

When it comes to squats on an angled Smith machine vs a straight Smith machine, there is no wrong way to face inside or outside, whether you are trying to see yourself in the mirror to see your proper form or for ease of racking (with wrist flexion or extension). But in angled Smith machine facing direction matter. 

In an angled Smith machine, forward-facing (when coming up side rails moving away from you) is the recommended way to do the squats. If you perform the squats while facing backward, the line of force passes through your lumbar vertebra, and you will notice that your hips put more pressure on your joints, causing discomfort. But with forward facing, the line of force goes through the spine and hips, which is easy on your joints and muscles. 

Prioritize Form and Technique: 

Regardless of the facing direction, prioritize maintaining proper form and technique. Focus on core engagement, balanced weight distribution, and controlled movement throughout the squat.

Also Read: Are Smith Machine Squats Easier?


You will start your quads and glutes training on the Smith machine, and if you need help performing angled Smith machine squats which way to face, the simple answer is Forward facing. It also depends primarily on your workout goals. If you aim to build your quadriceps muscles group, then definitely forward facing. Backward facing causes discomfort, but if you still want to hit your glutes, then trying other exercise variations in forward-facing (with different foot stances and positions will help).

Which Way To Bench On Angled Smith Machine?

When using an angled Smith machine for bench press, you should lie on the bench with your head positioned towards the higher end of the angle. This setup allows for a natural range of motion and proper alignment during the exercise.

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