Top 7 Smith Machine Exercises For Killer Glutes

smith machine exercises for glutes

I’m a big fan of free weights, they give me plenty of freedom of movement when training my glutes.  Whether I’m doing dumbbell Romanian Deadlifts or barbell squats, these exercises are a surefire way of lifting and shaping my glute muscles.  

But we’re not here to talk about free weight exercises.  Instead, I’m going to be suggesting some great glute isolation exercises that you can do on a smith machine.

Recommended Reading – Discover 4 Best Tips On How To Do Smith Machine Squats

I know that the smith machine has a bit of a controversial reputation and most people either love it or hate it.  I get why it’s one of those gym machines that gets a bit of a bashing.  

Smith machine exercises involve a fixed vertical motion which doesn’t suit everyone, nor does it suit every exercise.  Let’s take upright rows as an example.  They can be really awkward to do with proper form and can easily strain your shoulder joints, especially if you’re jumping into the exercise with heavier weight.  

That said, while the smith machine may not work for some exercises, it’s not as bad as you think and can be great for isolation workouts – especially ones to fire up those glute muscles! 

So, if you’re looking to grow your butt (especially that all-important gluteus maximus – the largest muscle in your bum) stick around to discover some of the best smith machine exercises for your next booty workout routine.  

How Are Smith Machine Exercises Good For The Glutes

Before I get into the exercises, I wanted to explain a bit more as to why a smith machine butt workout can be a great option for your glute training.  

smith machine squat

When using a smith machine you can really hone in on certain muscles, in this case your glutes, by targeting and isolating them without having to worry about your balance.  That’s because the Smith machine offers stability, and when your body is more stable this negates the need for other muscles to act as stabilizers when you perform an exercise.  

A second benefit of this stability is that you’ll be able to perform all the glute exercises below with much more control.  If you consider smith machine squats, you can execute them with much stricter form with less muscle activation from your core and lower back, putting more emphasis on your glutes.  

Studies have also shown that when performing smith machine squats, compared to traditional squats with a barbell, you can elicit more force production.  This leads to greater mechanical tension which in turn results in more strength and glute gains! 

That’s not to say, you should solely rely on the smith machine for your glute training though.  Doing that will eventually lead to a plateau meaning that no matter how often you workout, you’re not going to notice any significant strength or muscle gains.  

I’m a big advocate for keeping workouts varied.  That includes using free weights, resistance bands, body weight, and gym machines – including the Smith machine!  

Smith Machine Workouts To Target Your Glutes

Now get ready to fire up your glutes with these highly effective exercises.  

Performing any exercise with a b stance essentially means you’re increasing the load placed on one side of your body.  So, if you perform a regular RDL, the weight load distribution is pretty much 50/50.  

Conversely, by taking a small step back with one foot and resting it on your toes, this is more of a 70/30 split.  This makes it a bit more challenging on your glutes compared to a regular Romanian deadlift but not quite as demanding as the single-leg variation.  Doing a b stance RDL on the Smith machine allows for greater control therefore better isolation of your glutes.  

How To Do It:

  1. Begin by setting the bar of the Smith machine to the right height, typically just below the level of your waist. 
  2. Stand facing the Smith machine with your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent.
  3. Take hold of the bar with an overhand grip and slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  4. Step one foot back a few inches and rest it on the balls of your feet. 
  5. Engage your core and keep your back straight as you hinge at the hips, pushing your butt back. 
  6. Lower the bar by bending at the hips while keeping a slight bend to your knees, the bar should travel down the front of your thighs. 
  7. Stop when the bar reaches just below your knees.  Pause for a few seconds, you should feel a stretch to your glutes and hamstrings. 
  8. Slowly reverse the motion by pushing your hips forward and extending your torso upright.
  9. Squeeze your glutes at the top of the movement and push your pelvis forward to fully engage the hip muscles.

The lying leg press is pretty much a substitute for the vertical leg press machine.  In my experience, many gyms don’t have this machine so performing it using a smith machine is a perfect replacement and great for targeting your posterior.  

The key benefit of doing this pressing movement while lying on the ground is that your upper body is fully supported making it a great choice for anyone wanting to keep any load off their spine.  Avoid going to low as this could cause your lower back to round! 

How To Do It:

  1. Adjust the Smith machine’s bar to a height where you can comfortably place your feet on the platform when lying down. 
  2. Lie down on your back on the floor or on a weight bench positioned underneath the Smith machine bar.
  3. Position yourself directly under the bar so that your hips align with the bar and place the soles of your feet on the bar at a shoulder width distance.  
  4. Engage your core muscles and press your lower back into the floor or bench.
  5. Using your feet, push the bar towards the ceiling – this should unlock it. 
  6. From here, lower your knees towards your chest.  Remember, don’t allow your lower back to round at the bottom of the exercise.  If this happens, reduce the range of motion. 
  7. Now press the bar back up, keep your knees slightly bent and avoid locking them out at the top of the movement. 

This exercise is very much like the Romanian deadlift with the main difference being that doing the stiff leg variation involves lowering the smith bar all the way to the floor as opposed to mid-shin height.  

By doing it standing on a step-up platform increases your range of motion even more, allowing for a fantastic stretch to your glutes and hamstrings.  Try pausing at the bottom to increase time under tension  – great for extra muscle hypertrophy!

smith machine stiff leg deadlift

How To Do It: 

  1. Begin by setting a step up platform in the centre of the Smith machine bar to create a deficit. The height of the deficit should allow you to achieve a deeper stretch in your hamstrings. 
  2. Position yourself close to the bar, ensuring that it’s at mid-shin level or slightly below.  Keep your toes pointing forwards. 
  3. Bend at your hips to take hold of the bar with an overhand grip, hands shoulder-width apart. Your arms should be fully extended, and your upper back should be flat, maintaining a neutral spine position.
  4. Engage your core muscles and keep your shoulder blades pulled back and down to stabilize your upper body.
  5. Lift the bar off the hooks by straightening your hips and knees, maintaining a slight bend in your knees throughout the movement.
  6. Keeping your back straight, slowly lower the bar towards the floor by hinging at your hips, allowing the weight to pull your torso forward.
  7. Lower the bar until you feel a deep stretch in your hamstrings, keeping it close to your legs throughout the movement.
  8. Avoid rounding your back or allowing your shoulders to slump forward. For best results focus on maintaining constant tension in your hamstrings and keeping your spine neutral.
  9. Once you reach the bottom position, pause briefly, then reverse the movement by driving your hips forward and extending your torso upright to return to the start. 

The good morning exercise is one of my absolute favorites for working the posterior chain.  Doing a few sets of these will have your glutes and hamstrings on fire.  

Proper form is essential for this one and don’t make the common mistake of simply lowering your torso towards the ground.  Instead, you should focus on moving your glutes and hips back as you bring your upper body parallel to the floor.  

How To Do It:

  1. Set the bar of the Smith machine so it’s just slightly lower than your shoulder height.
  2. Stand facing the Smith machine with your feet shoulder-width apart or slightly wider and toes pointing forward. 
  3. Get under the smith bar so that it rests across your upper back, and just below your neck. 
  4. Hold the bar so that your hands are past shoulder-width apart, and make sure that the bar feels stable across your back.  
  5. Brace your core and keep your chest up. 
  6. With a slight bend in your knees, hinge at your hips pushing them back and lower your torso forward, keeping your back straight and maintaining a neutral spine position.
  7. Lower your torso until it’s parallel to the ground or until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings and glutes.  
  8. Keep your head in a neutral position, looking forward or slightly downward, to keep your spine properly aligned.  
  9. Hold for a few seconds, then return back to the starting position by pushing your hips forward. 

This exercise is a weighted variation on the regular bodyweight hip extension.  The benefit of doing it on a Smith machine is that it encourages a fixed movement path for better glute isolation all while under load which further increases tension on your muscles.  

This movement is great for targeting the upper glute portion.  While the movement is usually performed with your torso parallel to the ground, you could try a different angle to see which is best for max glute contraction.  

smith machine hip extension

How To Do It: 

  1. Position the smith bar so it’s around knee height. 
  2. Get in a prone position and on all fours making sure the back of your heels are aligned with the barbell. 
  3. Start with your knees under your hips and hands under your shoulders. 
  4. Take one foot and rest the sole of this foot against the smith bar. 
  5. Use control to push the bar straight up towards the ceiling.  
  6. Squeeze your glutes at the top and hold for a second or two. 
  7. Slowly lower back to the start and repeat.  

Besides it being a great glute-building exercise, another key benefit of hip thrusts on a smith machine is that it allows for super easy setup.  When doing a standard barbell hip thrust, it can be a little tricky getting yourself under a loaded barbell, especially if you want to lift with a heavier weight load.  

But you won’t find that with a Smith machine.  Once you’ve set up the smith bar with the desired weight load, you can set it to a height that allows you to get under the bar with ease before releasing the safety bars.  In my opinion, this actually makes it a safer alternative – especially if you want to lift heavy.  

How To Do It: 

  1. Set the barbell on the smith machine to just above knee height. 
  2. Position a flat bench so that it’s horizontal to the smith machine and aligns with the bar.  
  3. Step in between the bench and the bar, sit on the ground and rest your upper back against the edge of the bench. 
  4. From here, raise your hips towards the ceiling keeping both feet flat on the ground and directly beneath your knees. 
  5. When in position, the bar should be resting in the crease of your hips.  If not, you’ll need to move the bench a little forwards or backwards.  
  6. Once you’re in the correct position, unhook the bar so that you’re supporting the weight load. 
  7. Lower your glutes towards the floor while keeping your gaze fixed forward. 
  8. Push your hips back until your body is parallel to the floor and squeeze your glutes at the top before repeating.  

Lunges are a great exercise for performing on a smith machine and the curtsy lunge is perfect for targeting your gluteus medius – these are your outer glute muscles.  Strengthening your outer glutes not only makes the other exercises more effective but contributes to hip mobility, posture and even helps to minimize low back pain.  

Performing the curtsy lunge with dumbbells or a barbell requires a fair bit of balance, but using a smith machine helps to keep you stable as you descend into the lunge, meaning you can focus more on glute hypertrophy. 

How To Do It:

  1. Begin by setting up the Smith machine bar to roughly shoulder height. 
  2. Find the center of the bar and get under it allowing it to rest across your upper traps.
  3. Unrack the bar from the hooks so that you now bear the weight load. 
  4. Take one foot and position it a few inches in front of the bar and in the center of your body. 
  5. Step back with your other foot diagonally behind your front foot so that it crosses behind your body. 
  6. Lower your body down into a lunge position, bending both knees to approximately 90-degree angles. Your front knee should be aligned with your ankle and pointing forward, and your back knee should hover just above the ground.
  7. Keep your torso upright and head and chest up throughout the movement.
  8. Press through your front heel to return to the starting position, driving your body back up to a standing position.
  9. Ensure that your knees stay in line with your toes and avoid letting your front knee collapse inward during the lunge.
  10. Be sure to complete equal reps on each leg. 

Before You Go…

Now that you know the smith machine can be a great piece of kit to use for developing your glutes, I’m sure you’re super keen to get started.  But, before you rush off I just want to point out a couple of things.  

Whether you’re using the smith machine in your local gym or you’re lucky enough to have one at home, check the rails.  I say this because over time rust can build up, especially if the machine isn’t being maintained properly.  

Any build-up of rust will create friction as the barbell moves up and down.  This is gonna impede your training.  The bar should glide freely along the length of the rails. If it doesn’t, it’ll need some maintenance.  

And finally, if any of the glute exercises I’ve recommended above feel uncomfortable on your joints (or worse still, painful!), then stop.  It’s important to remember that you have a lack of free motion when performing exercises on a Smith machine.  This fixed path means if your technique is off, you’re gonna stress your joints and potentially cause an injury.  

Check things like your stance, range of motion, and grip position.  Don’t force your body into a position that feels unnatural when you perform the exercises.  Everyone’s anatomy is different, and what works for someone else may not work for you.  

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