Smith Machine Deadlift: How to, Pro Tips, Variations & More!

The deadlift is a compound exercise that targets multiple muscle groups, including the hamstrings, glutes, lower back, and core. To build explosive strength in your body, deadlift is simply unmatched! While deadlift is traditionally performed with a barbell, the Smith machine deadlift offers a safe and controlled alternative for lifters of all levels. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the benefits of the Smith machine deadlift, discuss proper technique and form, offer variations to target specific muscle groups, and provide tips for maximizing your deadlift workout for gaining amazing strength and muscularity in your lower back and other areas.

Benefits of the Smith Machine Deadlift

Deadlift is considered as one of the best strength building exercises. The Smith machine deadlift is no exception as it offers several benefits for both beginners and experienced lifters such as:

Controlled Movement

The Smith machine provides a fixed path of motion, which can help beginners learn proper deadlift technique and form without the risk of injury from improper barbell alignment. So, it is a great beginner-friendly movement.


The Smith machine’s built-in safety catches allow lifters to perform deadlifts with confidence, knowing that the barbell can be easily racked in case of fatigue or loss of control. This can really be beneficial for both beginner and advanced lifters.

Muscle Engagement

The deadlift is a compound strength building exercise that engages multiple muscle groups, including the hamstrings, glutes, lower back, traps, core, and grip strength. The Smith machine deadlift allows for the same level of muscle activation like traditional barbell deadlift but with minimal risk.

Progressive Overload

With the ability to easily adjust the weight on the Smith machine, lifters can gradually increase resistance over time to boost their strength gains and muscle growth.


The Smith machine deadlift can be performed with various foot placements and grip widths to target specific muscle groups and accommodate individual preferences and goals. For example, with wider stance and narrow grip, one can perform sumo deadlift with the smith machine. Sumo deadlift is better for strength and muscle gains in the lower body only like quads, glutes and hams.

Step-by-step Guide to Perform Smith Machine Deadlift with Proper Form

Proper technique is crucial for performing the Smith machine deadlift safely and effectively so that you can get the most out of this exercise without injuring your yourself. Let’s take a look at the step-by-step guide to know how to execute this compound movement perfectly.

Credit: garagegymreviews

Set Up the Machine

Adjust the height of the Smith machine barbell to align with your mid-shin level. Ensure that the barbell is securely locked in place before adding any weight plates.

Position Yourself

Stand while facing the Smith machine with your feet shoulder-width apart. Place your feet directly under the barbell, with your toes pointed slightly outward. The bar should be positioned above the middle of your feet.

Grip the Barbell

Reach down and grasp the barbell with an overhand grip (palms facing toward you) slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Alternatively, you can use a mixed grip (one palm facing toward you, one palm facing away) for added grip stability.

Engage Your Core

Brace your core muscles by drawing your navel toward your spine and tightening your abdominal muscles. This will help stabilize your spine and protect your lower back during the lift.

Initiate the Lift & Maintain a Neutral Spine

Keep your chest up, shoulders back, and back flat as you begin to lift the barbell off the rack. Push through your heels and drive your hips forward to stand up tall, keeping the barbell close to your body throughout the movement.

Throughout the lift, maintain a neutral spine position by keeping your head, neck, and back aligned. Avoid rounding or arching your back excessively, as this can lead to strain or injury.

Hip Hinge Movement

Bend at your hips and slightly bend your knees as you lower the barbell towards the ground. Keep your back flat and your chest lifted as you hinge forward, maintaining tension in your hamstrings and glutes.

Lower the Barbell

Lower the barbell until it reaches just below knee level or until you feel a comfortable stretch in your hamstrings. Keep the barbell close to your body and maintain tension in your core and posterior chain muscles.

Drive Through the Heels & Lock out at the Top

Press through your heels and drive your hips forward to return to the starting position. Once you’ve fully extended your hips and knees, pause briefly at the top of the movement to fully engage your glutes, back and hamstrings. Focus on squeezing your glutes and engaging your lower back as well as hamstrings as you stand up tall.

Rack the Barbell after Each Set

Perform the desired number of repetitions with proper form and technique, focusing on smooth and controlled movement throughout each repetition. Once you’ve completed your set, carefully rack the barbell back onto the Smith machine by fully extending your arms. Ensure that the barbell is securely in place before stepping away from the machine.

Pro Tips to Avoid Common Mistakes

Follow these pro tips to avoid common mistakes for ensuring proper form and technique while performing the Smith machine deadlift.

  • Maintain a flat back throughout the movement to protect your spine and prevent lower back injuries.
  • Avoid jerking or bouncing the barbell off the ground, as this can lead to loss of control and potential injury. Focus on controlled movement and muscle activation.
  • Engage your core muscles throughout the lift to stabilize your spine and protect your lower back. Failure to do so can lead to excessive strain on the lumbar spine.
  • Keep the barbell close to your body throughout the lift to minimize stress on your lower back and maximize muscle activation in the hamstrings and glutes.
  • Fully extend your hips and knees at the top of the movement to engage your back, glutes and hamstrings fully. Avoid hyperextending your lower back or locking out your knees excessively to prevent unnecessary injuries.

How to Incorporate Smith Machine Deadlift

As deadlift is a compound movement, you can incorporate smith machine deadlift either in your back workout routine or in your leg workout routine. However, in most cases, the traditional one is included in the back day while sumo and Romanian deadlift is added in leg day as these two movements emphasise the lower body more whereas traditional version focuses on the lower back more.

If you add this exercise in your back day then make sure you perform other effective back exercises such as bent-over barbell row, lat pulldown, single-arm dumbbell row etc. Keep in mind to use lighter weights in the first set of smith machine deadlift as a warm up set and then you can go for heavier weights but with one condition that is the weight should not be too heavy to ruin your form and technique. Rather focus on quality repetitions with perfect form and gradually increase the weight or sets or reps with progressive overload method as you start to master the exercise. This will make sure you keep getting stronger and muscular without hitting any workout plateau.

Variations of Smith Machine Deadlift

Deadlift itself has tons of greatly effective variations and with smith machine, you can almost do every one of them. The Smith machine deadlift can also be modified to target specific muscle groups and accommodate individual preferences and goals. Here are some effective variations you can try.

If you want to know more about the deadlift variations in detail, read this article here.

Sumo Deadlift

Perform the smith machine deadlift with a wider stance, narrow grip and your toes pointed outward to target the inner thighs, hams and glutes more effectively. With sumo deadlift, one can pull even heavier weight than traditional one thanks to the stance and more emphasis on the lower body.

Romanian Deadlift

Keep your knees slightly bent and hinge at your hips to lower the barbell of the smith machine toward the ground while maintaining a flat back. This variation emphasizes the hamstrings more and lower back less compared to traditional one. Romanian deadlift is considered one of the best hamstring exercises!

Stiff-Leg Deadlift

Perform the deadlift with straight legs and minimal knee bend to increase the stretch on the hamstrings and lower back. With stiff-leg deadlift, one needs to make sure the barbell touches the floor after every repetition.

Single-Leg Deadlift

Stand on one leg and hinge at your hips to lower the barbell toward the ground while keeping your other leg extended behind you. This variation improves balance, stability, and unilateral strength. However, it’s better to perform single-leg deadlift with kettlebell or dumbbell.

Rack Pull Deadlift

Set the Smith machine barbell at knee height and perform the deadlift from this elevated position. This is called rack pull deadlift or simply, rack pull. This variation emphasizes the top portion of the lift thus engaging more on your lower back and can be used to overload the muscles with heavier weights. You may have seen many gym-goers performing rack pulls in their back day.


The Smith machine deadlift is a valuable exercise for building strength, muscle mass, and size in your lower back, glutes and hamstrings. Most importantly, it’s safer than traditional one which makes it an amazing beginner-friendly strength building exercise. By following proper technique and form, avoiding common mistakes, incorporating variations, and implementing tips for success, you can maximize the benefits of this exercise and achieve your fitness goals. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced lifter, the Smith machine deadlift can be customized to suit your individual needs and preferences, making it a versatile and effective addition to any strength training routine. Remember to prioritize safety, proper form, and progressive overload to ensure continued progress and success in your fitness journey. Hopefully, you found this article helpful. If you really did then let us know your valuable thoughts in the comment section below. Thanks for visiting and appreciating our work.

Meta: Let’s know the proper technique & form to perform smith machine deadlift, its benefits, variations & pro tips to maximise the strength gains from it.

Leave a Comment