The Smith machine is one of the most versatile machines and can be found at virtually every single gym. It is often considered a 'safe' alternative to many free-weight exercises because of the safety pins. The barbell squat is an intermediate-advanced exercise and therefore many people choose to perform the smith machine version for safety. The problem is that when using the Smith, you are stuck in the plane of movement of the machine. Think about the Smith machine from the side view, the bar goes strictly up and down in whatever forwards or back motion is allowed by the frame. This is not what happens when doing a free-weight barbell squat and therefore the Smith machine version does not adequately mimic the proper movement. If you stand at the machine with your feet directly below you, excessive pressure will be placed on the low back as you squat down - putting you at increased risk of low back injury. If you stand with your feet out in front of you (see above), excessive load will be placed on the patella and patella tendons - putting you at increased risk of knee injury.
Better alternative: Barbell squat
2. Upright row
This exercise is considered a staple by many for strengthening the deltoids - the outermost muscle surrounding the shoulders. It is performed With your palms and shoulders turned in (internally rotated), the bar is lifted towards the chin. When the arms are raised with resistance in this position, the bones of the shoulder joint compress the tendons and bursa. Though no symptoms of injury may be felt initially, rotator cuff tendon and bursitis issues can arise with repetitive resisted upright rows over time.
I have no idea how the behind-the-neck variations of the lat pulldown and shoulder press ever became popular, or the reasoning for why some people do it in the first place. It puts excessive pressure on the supporting ligaments of the front of the shoulder and rotator cuff muscles - increasing the likelihood of excessive shoulder joint laxity, rotator cuff strain and shoulder dislocations. Also, those who aren't flexible enough to rotate their arm back that far will compensate for this by bending their head forwards, this places extra unnecessary stress on the spine.
Better alternative: The front version
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