Smith Machine Deadlift

Exercise Summary
Primary Muscle(s) Lower Back
Secondary Muscle(s) Glutes, Middle Back, Hamstrings, Quads, Lats
Equipment Machine
Emphasis Compound
Type Pull

Smith Machine Deadlift Instructions

The Smith Machine will create a direct bar path. Be cognizant of this when performing the exercise. 
  • Be in a strong athletic position: knees flexed, core and glutes activated, chest up, and shoulders back. 
    • Rib cage is set over your pelvis.
  • Have the bar positioned over your shoelaces.
  • Feet are just inside shoulder-width.
    • Set your feet as if you are about to jump as high as possible.
  • With your knees slightly bent, tighten your mid-section and hinge at your hips to grab the barbell.
    • Maintain a neutral spine throughout the movement. Never arching or rounding your back.
  • Grip the bar just outside your knees with a pronated hand position.
  • Re-tighten and engage your body for the lift. You are trying to take all the "slack" out of your body. Imagine pulling your hips into proper position.
    • Raise your hips slightly then lower.
    • Activate your upper back & lats by trying to break the barbell with your hands.
    • Screw your feet into the floor.
    • Take a deep breath to brace your core.
  • The barbell should be underneath or level with your chest. Arms are fully extended.
    • Neck is in a neutral position.
  • Drive your feet through the floor and stand up. 
  • Maintain your core tightness throughout the movement.
  • Squeeze your glutes at the top.
  • Keeping your knees slightly bent and core tight, hinge at the hips to lower the weight back to the starting position.


  • For a more extensive look at the deadlift, read this piece about the biomechanics of it.
  • Avoid arching your back excessively. This is false sense of core stability.
  • You can employ a mixed or a standard pronated grip. 
  • Do not "look up". You want to maintain a neutral neck position.
  • Keep the bar as close to your body as possible
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