ClickerTrainer's comment in How to Avoid Leaning Forward on Front Squats:
I have very bad form on squats which I like to blame on being short and short waisted. Is it better to Front Squat using the Smith Machine or with free weights?
I Admit. I squatted in the smith machine during my first 3 years of strength training. Me & my training partner didn't know better at that time.
One day someone was using the smith machine. We turned towards the power rack & did our Squats there. Using free weights.
My training partner started. He put the same weight on the barbell he normally used. He almost lost balance. It was harder. We had to decrease the weight. Lesson learned. We never did squats in the smith machine again.

Pro's of Free Weights.
Free weights are better than machines. Always.
  • More Strength & Muscles. Squatting with free weights is harder than inside the smith machine. You must control & balance the bar. Exercises that stress your body more give better results.
  • Functional. Pick a heavy object from the floor, put it on your back & get up. No machine balances the object for you. You must do it yourself. This is functional strength. Smith machines don't build it.
  • Safer. You decide where the barbell goes when using free weights. The smith machine forces you into fixed & unnatural movement patterns. This can cause injury.

How to Learn to Squat.
Practice. That's the only solution if you have bad form on the Squat. The more you practice, the better you become.
Don't lose your time practicing on the smith machine. It doesn't teach you to balance the weight. Especially on the Front Squat were balance is much harder than on Squats because of the different grip.
Better is to build good habits from the start. Do endless sets with low weight. Technique will come if you keep practicing.

What If All Barbells Are Attached?
Some gyms don't invest in anything else than a smith machine. If your gym doesn't have a power rack to perform Squats using free weights, several options:
  • Steinborn lift. Put the bar on its end, get under it & Squat.
  • Power Clean. Bar ends on your shoulders, ready for Front Squats.
  • Home Gym. If you have the place & money, go for it

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