Every piece of equipment has a purpose. Many of our clients struggle with the downward movement (eccentric phase) of the bench press. We use it as a teaching tool to transition them to the traditional barbell or dumbbell bench exercises. Here are two ways that we use it to help:
It provides a safer and easier spotting solution for our trainer to maintain the safety of our clients.
They often get an itch on their leg, or something in their eye, and will let go of the bar altogether. The guided bar of the Smith Machine takes out a lot of variables in those circumstances in comparison to the traditional barbell or dumbbell versions.
Your muscles also experience a different sensory feeling during the eccentric phase vs the concentric phase of the bench press (downward vs upward). For many, they have never had to slowly control a weighted object and it is a new feeling for them. We will gradually load the bar and work specifically on getting them comfortable with this feeling. The goal is to have them be able to control more weight during this phase than they could do during the upward movement.
About the Author
Ryan Lockard, CSCS, CSPS is the founder and head trainer of Specialty Athletic Training and is accredited by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) as a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and a Certified Special Populations Specialist. He is a member of the board of directors for the Autism Society of America and the Central Oregon Disability Support Network.