When I do squats on the smith machine, I start with my legs a few feet out in front of me and go down until I am in a sitting position.

I've noticed that some people go down until they are almost touching the ground. Does this form work different muscles?

3 Answers 3


It works on your hamstrings if you go deep (more than sitted position).

I actually never go deeper than sitted because sometimes it hurts my knees...


I would completely advise against going further than 90 degrees as this will put extreme strain on the knees and although you may not feel it at the time, over time you will slowly wear down the joints which will lead to issues in the future.

Evidence wise - well i think if you search on the internet you will find arguments for both sides - some saying it is a myth and others swearing by it wearing the joints down...

so really the best answer is your won opinion of how it feels for you. The gain for going further than 90degrees is little and if you wanted to push your hamstrings or other muscle groups there are plenty of alternative exercises available to achieve this.

  • Perhaps you can expand a bit on your own experience and with a summary of some of the arguments you found.
    – FredrikD
    Feb 12, 2014 at 8:24

I have two articles here about squat depth:

I would say the 'jury is back' on squat depth and the results show the deeper you go the better it is for you, given:

  • you have good squat form (practice a lot)
  • you don't go to heavy to fast

A good way to feel the difference is squat down 1/4 way - and feel the pressure in your knees. Squat butt-to-ground and the pressure is on your legs and butt.

squat depth

  • 1
    Great answer +1! However, the question is about Smith machine, anything to add regarding that aspect?
    – FredrikD
    Feb 11, 2014 at 16:02
  • 2
    FredrikD - don't use a smith machine (simple answer). Here's a link to why: stronglifts.com/smith-machine-squats-power-rack-free-weights Feb 11, 2014 at 19:20
  • @MeadeRubenstein Good point, however I think that article is about why you shouldn't use Smith Squats instead of squatting. I would suggest using Smith Squats along with Squatting (not on the same day). And yes, if you do them incorrectly you can get hurt... as with all exercises. I think you have an excellent answer but I'm not sure if this is the right question for it - I agree with FredrikD. You further clarified that with your comment about not doing Smith Squats at all (which is the subject of the question). Feb 11, 2014 at 20:06
  • @DanAndrews - if 'standard' (non smith machine) squats are better for you - why not focus on them? I know we should do many different things, but shouldn't we focus on the primary lifts and use accessory lifts secondary? FredikD wanted my opinion regarding smith machines (anything to add)...and my base feeling is that the best exercise that you can do is a standard back squat...then if you have time: dead lifts, bench, overhead press, rows...and if you have energy after that - overhead squats, front squats, rack pulls...and if you have energy after that hill sprints Feb 12, 2014 at 2:23
  • 1
    Not trying to be sarcastic...but I have strong feelings about focusing on the primary lifts :) Feb 12, 2014 at 2:24

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