The largest muscles in your body are in the legs and lower back and the largest in your body and most people do not realise that in order to build muscle in the upper half of your body it is paramount to develop strong legs. Working on your leg muscles releases hormones that can benefit muscle building throughout your body.
Not only this, but in order to stay in proportionate you need to work on your legs, particularly if you’re packing on weight up top. It’s estimated that the lower half of your body makes up 50% of your total muscle mass so it’s vital to develop strong legs.
The best exercise to develop strong legs is by far the squat. There are a variety of squat exercises, including the Smith machine squat, which can help you build leg muscles. Whilst this article focuses on the Smith machine, it is important to remember that you must use other exercises to keep your legs supple and strong. Other great ways to develop strong legs include squatting include the Bulgarian split squat and free weight front squat.
The downside of a Smith machine is that there is only one axis of motion, which can lead to injuries if you do not mix up your routines. Your balance is also not tested as the machine makes all the stability for you. This said the Smith machine can still be an effective part of building up your legs.
Squatting using a Smith machine can help you to get to grips with the posture required for squatting if you’re new to the gym or squats. Try to get away from the Smith machine as soon as you can though as the single plane motion is not ideal for building muscles and improving balance. Some experts will advise you no to use a Smith machine at all. Squatting free weights will give a better overall definition and strength for your legs.
The latest generation of Smith machines do allow for 3D movements, although it is important to remember they are still just machines; not free weights. Whilst the new generation of Smith machine is indeed better for squatting, they do not compare to free weight squatting. To perform a true squat and achieve the maximum results you need the full flexibility only achieved by squatting free weights.
To conclude, try to avoid the Smith machine whenever you can in terms of squatting. They can be useful for other muscle groups and perhaps when first starting out, although be careful not to make a habit of it. There’s really no match for free weight training when it comes to developing strong, well defined leg muscles.