Smith Machine Back Workouts (Must Try) 11 Powerful Exercises

Smith Machine Back Workouts (Must Try) 11 Powerful Exercises

Last Updated on April, 2024

Building a strong, muscular back can be challenging without the right tools and techniques. The Smith machine is one piece of equipment that offers versatile exercises for an all-around back workout.

This article will guide you through various effective Smith machine back workouts designed to target your upper, middle, and lower back muscles. Let’s get started on your journey toward achieving that well-sculpted back!

Quick Summary

The Smith Machine is a piece of equipment that offers versatile exercises for an all-around back workout targeting different areas of the back.

Exercising with the Smith Machine offers multiple benefits, such as increased strength, improved posture, and injury prevention. Its stability and adjustable weight settings also provide an environment for progressive overload that helps build muscle.

Exercises such as Bent over rows, Reverse grip rows, Single-arm rows, Inverted rows, Pull-ups, Shrugs, Pendlay rows, Deadlifts, Rack pulls, Back extensions, and Face pulls are all good exercises to include in a Smith machine back workout.

Understanding the Smith Machine

A man doing a barbell squat in a gym.

The Smith Machine is key in helping build muscle. You can use it for many back exercises like bent-over rows and pull-ups. It helps you make complex moves with more control than other tools.

This makes it safe to use.

A good thing about the Smith Machine is that it works on almost all body parts. It has a set weight stack you can change for different workouts. The machine does not need a spotter, so it’s easy and quick for back workouts.

Top Smith Machine Back Exercises

The top Smith Machine back exercises include the Bent Over Row, Reverse-grip Row, Single-arm Row, Inverted Row, Pull up, Shrug, Pendlay Row, Deadlift, Rack Pull, Back Extension, and Face Pull.

Bent Over Row

Use the Smith machine for a Bent Over Row. You’ll need no spotter for this exercise. It’s perfect for building and toning your back muscles.

This workout strengthens your latissimus dorsi, posterior deltoid, scapular retractors, and rhomboids.

You will feel how these muscles work as you do the Bent Over Row. You pull heavy weights with stability from the Smith machine.

Your lifting straps or grip gloves may come in handy here!

Squat squat squat squat squat squat squat s.
credits: (

Reverse-Grip Row

Hold the bar in front of you to do the reverse grip row. Your palms will face up.

Pull the bar to your belly button. This move works many muscles. Your lower lats and biceps get a lot from this exercise.

It also helps other back muscles like your latissimus dorsi and scapular retractors.

Even if there is no Smith machine, you can still do this move in other ways.

a man doing smith machine reverse grip row

Single-Arm Row

The Single-arm Row is a great exercise to strengthen your back muscles using the Smith Machine.

This exercise helps target important muscles like the latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, and traps.

By isolating these muscles with the help of the Smith Machine’s stability and guidance, you can improve your posture and develop stronger back muscles.

It’s an effective way to promote muscle development in your upper body while working on balance and stability.

a man doing smith machine single arm row
credits: (

Inverted Row

The Inverted Row is a great exercise for your Smith machine back workout routine.

It targets muscles like the latissimus dorsi, posterior deltoid, scapular retractors, and rhomboids.

To perform this exercise, start by positioning your upper body below the Smith machine bar and gripping it with an overhand grip.

Then, pull yourself up towards the bar while keeping your body in a straight line.

This exercise is similar to a pull-up and can help you progress toward performing standard pull-ups.

a man doing smith machine inverted row
credits: (

The Inverted Row is highly effective for adding mass to the traps and lats while strengthening multiple muscle groups in your back.

Pull Up

Pull-ups on a Smith machine are a great exercise for strengthening the upper back muscles.

They provide support and can be helpful for beginners who may still need to gain the strength to do standard pull-ups.

The Smith machine allows for more control and safety during this exercise, making focusing on proper form and technique easier.

Pull-ups on a Smith machine can be done with different hand positions to target various muscles in the back, such as the lats and traps.

Starting with an appropriate weight that challenges you but allows you to perform the exercise correctly is important.

a man doing smith machine pull up
credits: (

Pull-ups on a Smith machine are a fantastic way to build upper body strength and improve your overall fitness level.


Shrug exercises on the Smith machine work the upper trapezius muscles and add height to your back.

These exercises can be done safely and with more control of the Smith machine.

By strengthening your upper back muscles through shrugs, you can also progress towards performing standard pull-ups.

You can use lifting straps or Versa Grips to prevent grip fatigue during shrug exercises to enhance your grip strength.

So if you want a taller-looking back and stronger upper traps, include shrugs in your Smith machine back workout routine!

a man doing smith machine shrug
credits: (

Pendlay Row

The Pendlay row is a great exercise for targeting the muscles in your upper back and core.

It specifically works the latissimus dorsi, posterior deltoid, scapular retractors, and rhomboids.

This exercise is known for building explosive power in the lats and traps, making it especially beneficial for deadlifts.

If you don’t have access to free weights or machines, you can still perform the Pendlay row using a Smith machine for better control and safety.

Incorporating this exercise into your workout routine can strengthen neglected muscle groups and improve your overall back strength.

Squat squat squat squat squat squat squat s.


The deadlift is an important exercise that can be done using a Smith machine. This exercise targets the muscles in your back, particularly those in the posterior chain.

The Smith machine provides stability and control, allowing you to perform the deadlift with proper form and reducing the risk of injury.

By incorporating the deadlift into your workouts on the Smith machine, you can effectively strengthen and tone your back muscles.

a man doing deadlifts using smith machine
credits: (

Rack Pull

Rack pulls are a powerful exercise for building strength and developing pulling power in the back muscles.

They can be done using a Smith machine, which provides stability and allows for better focus on specific muscle groups.

Rack pulls specifically target the muscles in your upper back and core, helping to strengthen and stabilize those areas.

One variation of rack pulls, the behind-the-back shrug, is especially effective at isolating the trap muscles while maintaining proper shoulder positioning.

This exercise is a valuable addition to any strength-building regimen, as it rapidly develops pulling power and helps build overall back strength.

a man doing rack pulls using smith machine
credits: (

Back Extension

Back extensions are a great exercise for strengthening the muscles in your lower back, particularly the spinal erectors.

This helps improve your posture and makes your lower back appear thicker and more defined.

When done on the Smith machine, back extensions provide resistance and stability, making them an effective addition to any strength-building regimen for your back.

The controlled and safe movements the Smith machine allows reduce the risk of injury while targeting the posterior chain muscles, including those spinal erectors we mentioned earlier.

So if you want a stronger and more visually impressive lower back, incorporating back extensions on the Smith machine is worth considering!

a man doing back extensions using smith machine

Face Pull

Face pulls are an exercise that can be done using a Smith machine. They focus on strengthening the rear delts and rotator cuffs, which are important muscles in your back.

Face pulls are often included in top Smith machine back workouts because they help reduce the risk of shoulder injuries.

Many find face pulls an effective exercise for improving shoulder stability and overall back strength.

So, if you want to strengthen these specific muscles and protect against potential injuries, incorporating face pulls into your workout routine can be beneficial.

a man doing face pulls using smith machine
credits: (

Benefits of Smith Machine Back Workouts

Smith machine back workouts offer multiple position exercises, variance in weight, and help prevent injuries.

Multiple Position Workouts

The Smith machine offers the flexibility to do workouts in different positions.

This means you can work your back muscles from various angles and target different areas of your back.

For example, you can do bent-over rows to focus on your lower lats or inverted rows to engage your upper back muscles.

By changing positions, you can challenge your muscles in new ways and improve overall muscle definition and strength.

Plus, working out in multiple positions helps prevent muscle imbalances and promotes better symmetry in your back muscles.

workouts done by men in smith machines

Additionally, performing exercises in different positions on the Smith machine allows for a greater range of motion than traditional free weights.

This increased range of motion enables you to activate more muscle fibers and achieve greater muscle activation during each exercise.

Variance in Weight

The Smith machine offers a wide range of weight options for back workouts.

You can adjust the weight according to your fitness level and gradually increase it as you get stronger. This allows for progressive overload, essential for muscle growth and strength development.

Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced lifter, the Smith machine’s variance in weight ensures that you can challenge yourself at every stage of your fitness journey.

Injury Prevention

Smith machine back workouts can be a great way to prevent injuries.

The machine allows for controlled movements and provides stability, reducing the risk of accidents.

By using proper form and technique, you can protect your muscles and joints from strain or overuse.

Additionally, the Smith machine enables you to perform exercises with correct alignment, promoting good posture and reducing the chances of injury.

So whether you are a beginner or an experienced lifter, incorporating Smith machine back workouts into your routine can help keep you safe while working on building strength in your back muscles.

Disadvantages of Smith Machines

man explains about smith machine

Smith machines have limitations that may hinder your back workouts, such as a fixed path of motion and an initial higher risk of injury. However, understanding these disadvantages can help you make better decisions in your training routine.

Keep reading to learn more!

Fixed Path

The Smith machine has a fixed path, meaning it only allows for up-and-down movements and doesn’t allow side-to-side motion. This can be both an advantage and a disadvantage. On the one hand, the fixed path provides stability and helps maintain proper form during exercises.

It also reduces the risk of injury by restricting movement to a controlled range of motion. However, on the other hand, some people find that the fixed path limits their ability to engage other supporting muscles or move naturally.

It’s important to consider your specific goals and preferences when deciding whether or not to use the Smith machine for back workouts.

Initial Higher Risk of Injury

Using a Smith Machine for back workouts can have some disadvantages. One is an initial higher risk of injury when using this machine. The Smith Machine has a fixed path that restricts natural movement compared to free weights or other equipment.

Beginners may struggle with proper form and technique, putting themselves at risk for injuries such as strains, sprains, or even muscle tears. It’s important to start with lighter weights and focus on mastering the correct form before increasing the intensity.

Unremovable Bar

The Smith machine has a unique feature – an unremovable bar. Unlike other equipment that adjusts the weight or bar, the Smith machine’s fixed-weight bar cannot be removed or changed.

This characteristic provides stability and control during back exercises, making it safer and easier for individuals of different fitness levels.

The unremovable bar ensures that your movements are controlled and limits side-to-side motion, which can help reduce the risk of injury while performing back workouts on the Smith machine.

Programming Smith Machine Back Workouts

Smith machines are a great tool for programming back workouts. You can incorporate exercises targeting different muscle groups in your back when designing a workout routine.

For example, exercises like the bent-over row and rack pull focus on building strength and muscle mass in your upper back and lats. On the other hand, inverted pull-ups on a Smith machine help strengthen the upper back muscles and progress toward standard pull-ups.

It’s important to vary your workouts by including compound movements and isolation exercises. Compound movements like deadlifts work your back muscles and engage other major muscle groups, making them efficient for overall strength development.

Isolation exercises such as shrugs or face pull specifically target smaller muscles in your traps or rear delts, helping to improve muscle symmetry.

To structure your workout program effectively, consider incorporating different rep ranges and weights based on your goals. Higher reps with moderate weights may be suitable if you’re aiming for hypertrophy (muscle growth).

Alternatively, lower rep ranges with heavier weights will be more beneficial if you want to focus on building strength.

Remember to warm up properly before starting any exercise regimen to prevent injuries. Stretching and dynamic warm-up exercises can help prepare your body for the workout.

Additionally, ensure proper form throughout each exercise to maximize effectiveness while minimizing the risk of injury.

Overall, programming Smith machine back workouts allow you to target specific muscle groups in your back while providing versatility through various exercise options.

By incorporating compound movements and isolation exercises into your routine with appropriate weight selections based on personal goals, you can achieve optimal results in developing strength and size in these muscles.

Sample Smith Machine Back Workout Routines

A person is holding a notebook with a calendar on it.

Here are three sample Smith machine back workout routines to help you target different aspects of your back muscles and achieve your fitness goals.

Workout for Width

To increase the width of your back muscles, you can incorporate specific exercises into your Smith machine workout routine. These exercises target different muscle groups in the back and help create a wider appearance. Here are some exercises you can include:

  1. Bent-Over Row: This exercise targets the latissimus dorsi and rhomboids.
  2. Reverse-grip Row: This variation targets the lower lats and biceps.
  3. Single-arm Row: Helps correct muscle imbalances and strengthens the back.
  4. Inverted Row: Engages the upper back muscles and progresses towards pull-ups.
  5. Pull-up: Builds strength in the upper back muscles for a V-taper look.

Workout for Thickness

To increase the thickness of your back muscles using the Smith machine, you can include these exercises in your workout routine:

  1. Bent-Over Row: Targets the latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, and posterior deltoids.
  2. Rack Pull: Works the upper back muscles, including the traps and rhomboids.
  3. Deadlift: Engages multiple muscle groups in the back, including the erector spinae and lats.
  4. Smith Machine Inverted Row: Focuses on the upper back muscles and helps improve posture.
  5. Pendlay Row: Targets the lower back muscles and increases overall back thickness.
  6. Shrug: Works the trapezius muscles to enhance upper back thickness.
  7. Face Pull: Targets the rear delts and rotator cuff muscles for a well-rounded back workout.

Workout for Strength

To build strength in your back using the Smith machine, try incorporating these exercises into your workout routine:

  1. Bent-over row: This exercise targets your latissimus dorsi, posterior deltoid, scapular retractors, and rhomboids. It’s great for building muscle mass and improving posture.
  2. Rack pull: This exercise primarily works your traps and spinal erectors. It helps develop upper back strength and improves grip strength.
  3. Deadlift: The deadlift is a full-body strength exercise that targets multiple muscle groups, including your back, glutes, hamstrings, and core. It’s excellent for building overall strength and power.
  4. Shrug: Shrugs target the upper traps and help improve shoulder stability. They can be done with a barbell or dumbbell on the Smith machine.

Related article: Smith machine hip thrusts


In conclusion, Smith machine back workouts can be great for building and toning your muscles. The variety of exercises available using the Smith machine can help target different muscle groups in your back, such as the latissimus dorsi and rhomboids.

With proper form and technique, these workouts can help improve your strength, stability, and overall posture. So if you have access to a Smith machine, try these exercises to level up your back workout routine!


You can perform a back workout with a Smith machine by doing bent-over rows, lat pulldowns, and seated cable rows using the barbell and adjustable cables.

Yes, it is safe to use the Smith machine for back workouts as long as proper form is maintained and appropriate weights are used. It also provides stability and support during exercise.

Yes, beginners can use the Smith machine for back workouts as it offers controlled movements and extra stability compared to free weights.

The benefits of doing back workouts on a smith machine include strengthening of upper and lower back muscles, improved posture, reduced risk of injury, and increased overall strength.

Was this article helpful?

Photo of author
Linda Walter
I’m a fitness trainer and a health coach. My GOAL is to empower everyone to live a healthier life even after passing their prime. You can find more about me here.

Leave a Comment