How to Do Squats on Angled Smith Machine? & Mistakes to Avoid

Angled Smith machine squats are becoming more the standard because it better stretches and simulates the quad muscles without involving other muscles group.

Smith Machine is both a legend and a myth. You can absolutely hammer your legs and hit your quads a ton if done right!

People are scared of using this overtly complicated machine, and rightfully so too.

The information on the machine has divided people and most people shy away from using it altogether.

People prefer alternatives like bench press barbells. 

Smith machine may look like a complex machine, however, using it is like a walk in the park.

You can perform a variety of easy and interesting exercises using the machine.

Sounds like a dream, right? But don’t worry, you will be able to live out this dream by the end of the article.

Smith Machine Angle

Smith machines are normally slanted at an angle of seven to twelve degrees. 

Being more specific about leading fitness gyms like life fitness their bar path follows an angle of 7 degrees. 

These machines are actually designed to give you an Olympic athlete’s environment.

A free weight motion in the Olympics is also around 7 degrees.

Can you simulate the vertical bar path on an angled Smith machine? 

Yes, you can simulate a vertical bar path by creating a body angle. 

In order to do so, you have to mimic the angle of your body to the bar path of the Smith machine.

For example, for a squat on a vertical bar path, you would step forward so that your body is angled back to match the angle of the bar path.

This way your movement is still a vertical moment relative to your body.

How to squat on an angled Smith machine?

How to do angled smith machine squats?

First of all, you have to make a proper posture for doing these squats.

Setting up for squat

  • Let’s start with the grip

One of the notable differences between an angled smith machine as compared to a regular barbell is that you have to grip a little bit wider. 

Reason: it keeps the bar tighter on the back because the bar on Smith machine has a tendency to roll. 

It’s up to you how you set whether with a high bar or low bar and get tight. 

  • Setting the feet

Feet a little farther out in front of you. If you stand right under the bar it will put much pressure on your knees. 

Set whatever feet position you feel better in which you can lift the bar of the rack.

Your feet position is not going to be like it is normally on a free-weight barbell. 

  • Setting up shoulder or feet first?

You should start with setting up the grip as mentioned earlier then setting your shoulders under the bar and feet at the end. 

How to take the bar off the racks?

You have to disengage the safety pins and then roll or turn the bar backward so that the safeties won’t catch on the hooks.

Otherwise, you would not be able to squat.

Once you stand up and disengage the safety from the hook and turn the bar backward.

You will be needing to readjust the position of the bar across your shoulders.

No need to worry about the time required to reposition the bar on the shoulder as you put more weight on the bars. 

Note: Don’t adjust your feet and shoulders across the bar at the same time. 

How down you should go on the Smith machine when doing the squat?

Perfect position: Stand a little bit forward with feet in front in order to keep knees in back to the toes. 

While holding the barbell you have to come low nice and deep so that your hip touches the calves pretty much.

Your thighs should be in a perfect position like you sit on a chair(having a height equal to your knee height or slightly lower than that).

The point to be noted is that your feet should a little bit farther forward as compared to free-weight bar lifting so that you don’t hit the gluteal.

This standing posture will feel better on your knees when your back is down.

How does the feet position affect targeted muscles on Smith machine? 

How does the feet position affect targeted muscles on Smith machine

The good part about Smith machine is that it workout different muscles depending on the stances; how you should position your feet depends on your target muscles.

Different focus of foot(Isolation of foot) positions emphasize particular muscles involved in the exercise like squats, quads, hamstrings, and glutes. 

Narrower feet are recommended when you want to work out your hamstrings.

Feet wider than hip-width works best for sumo squats.

Feet equal to hip width with toes pointed forward it will work better for your glutes.

Related: Smith Machine Good or Bad? Explained with Case Study

Which mistakes to avoid while squatting on a slanted smith machine?

Techniques and problems.

The purpose of squats on the slanted smith machine is specifically to target the quads a little bit more than they would be relative to other muscles than the free squat. 

On slanted smith or in planet fitness we are going to do this in a way that free squat can’t allow because of the limitation of gravity.

You can think of muscles targeting in a smith squat as some hybrid between some hack squats and free squats. 

Let’s discuss the common mistakes here

Foot positioning like a regular squats

It is quite related to a free squat. It is a better idea to start from a regular squat stance and then modify it slowly.

But the point here is that not modifying it enough will not get you the results desired.

As you are going to target your quad muscles it requires placing feet a little bit farther in front of you than normal. 

There are three different stances of the positioning of the feet observed normally. 

  1. Too much forward when your back looks around. 
  2. Not forward enough that heels come off the ground. 
  3. Feet not enough forward, stimulus not being directed to quads, Or not getting enough stretch that you don’t have the ability to generate lots of force. 

Proper technique for the feet positioning

When your feet are too far back your heels will come off the ground with your back leaning over and around.

In such case, if you position your feet 3 feet forward and then squat, what you will notice is that your back is again round at the bottom. 

The right way to do this is to position your feet roughly 3 to 6 inches forward as compared to your normal stance to stay more upright than your normal stance.

By doing so your heels will stay on the ground and no back rounding and you will feel that your squats getting huge stress at the bottom.

Feet too narrow or too wide

If your quads are getting stretched and other muscle groups are not being involved too much and not affecting your smith squats then you are doing it perfectly fine. 

Well, smith’s machine squat stance varies from person to person some like narrower, and some like wider. There is no general answer to this.

How do you know that you are doing it too narrower?

When you lose the ability to produce much force due to instability like when you are not feeling stable coming up.

In such a way, you do not recruit half of your muscle fibers and your body feels it’s too much to handle. 

You can get the idea that your feet are too narrow or wider when your joints hurt or you can not go to the proper depth.

In such cases try different stances, when your quads are hitting a ton then you are doing it right.

Front squats on the slanted smith machine.

Front squats on Smith Machine

It is possible to do Front squats on the Smith machine, the bar is to the front of the body/shoulders. It mainly engages the glutes and quads. 

You target these muscles by sticking your buttocks out straight away and feet in a train track position slightly pointed with toes to target VMO muscles and the inside of quads.

The normal way to do it is by holding the bar in hands at the end of the fingers and the bar sitting on the shoulders and with that, we make sure that elbows are up.

Sticking the glutes out so that you can feel the nice stretch.

You should move nice and down to 90 degrees and keep your head looking straight.

Note: Final suggestion about squatting on a slanted or angled Smith machine

If you are just going to start squatting on a Smith machine and do not have any prior experience squatting on a free-weight barbell.

You should not jump exclusively right on Smith machine.

Planet fitness only has smith machines for bar lifting.

But if you have made up your mind then you have to follow the proper technique as I have extended all of the information in this article. 

Also Read One hour on treadmill everyday result.


How is an angled smith machine different from a vertical smith machine?

One of the major and visible differences is the bar path.

In an angled smith machine bar moves slightly at an inclined angle while vertical movement is vertical up and down.  

Does smith machine squats resemble monoliths?

Squats on the smith machine quite resemble squats on a monolith.

Because of the way you have to set the grip and set the bar on the shoulders and then position the feet.

You should not move the feet after taking the bar off the rack it is all similar. 

Are feet positioning on the smith machine relatable to other machines?

You are going to put yourself(feet) in a position where it will mimic a hack squat because the hack squat machine is angled like a smith machine. 

Which way to face on the angled smith machine for squats?

There’s no wrong way to face a vertical smith machine whether inside or outside. But Squatting direction in angled Smith machine matter (explore the whole article in detail- forward facing is recommended, facing away have some potential disadvantages).

  • In an angled smith machine you should Face the hooks.
  • Do not face the rear of the machine because your lower back is going to hurt.
  • You can grip the bar better that way but your lower back can be hurt.
  • You should squat in a way that is angling in your way down and angling out when you come up.

From the perspective of the wrist 

The way you face the smith machine depends on your ease of carrying the bar and reracking it.

Because wrist flexion and extension movement is involved. 

What the majority finds easier is wrist flexion rather than an extension.

Your face will be outward while doing wrist flexion.

Wrist extension isn’t liked much because you have limited strength and mobility. 

What is the best part of doing squats on an angled smith machine?

Spotless squats: It is quite safer as compared to free-weight barbell lifts.

You don’t need any gym buddy or personal trainer to spot you when you are maxing.

Stances for feet position

You can try different stances narrower or wider feet positions.

Forward or backward as compared to the vertical smith machine.


One of the most common issues of angled Smith machine squats is that majority do it wrong.

Knowing the right way to do it is necessary to focus on one particular muscle without involving other muscles group.

Doing it right means that bar grip and foot positioning should be done right.

If feet are too narrow or wide, or too far in front then you won’t be able to hit your quads a ton.

All Do’s and don’ts are explained in the article for doing angled smith machine squats.

Make sure you don’t miss anything that could lead you to proper technique.

Do let us know in the comments if we should cover information on any topic pertinent to Smith Machine. Thank You!

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