Natural Bodybuilder AJ Morris Says the Smith Machine Is Better for Presses Than Free Weights

AJ Morris prefers smith machine for presses

INBA PNBA natural bodybuilder AJ Morris says he prefers the smith machine when it comes to presses. 

Every gym equipment has its time and place. Whether it’s a barbell, dumbbells, resistance bands, or machines, each piece of equipment has its pros and cons. For example, amateur International Natural Bodybuilder Association (INBA)/Professional Natural Bodybuilding Association (PNBA) natural bodybuilder AJ Morris says the smith machine is best for pressing movements

AJ Morris received second place at the INBA PNBA World Championships and third place in Men’s Bodybuilding Open Short at his first Natural Olympia – 2021. He was also part of the first-ever United Kingdom Drug Free Bodybuilding Association (UKDFBA) Team to compete in Natural Olympia. 

On Instagram (IG), Morris said:

“I love free moving barbells and dumbbells and I feature them in my programming when possible & when they have their place, but when it comes to creating the best movement for me, a press is likely to be on a smith. 


It’s very safe, it’s very stable, it’s very repeatable.”

You can see AJ Morris performing the smith machine bench press and his complete statement below:


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Aj Morris (@ajmorris_)

Smith Machine Vs. Free Weights

In general, it’s good to mix up your movements to give your body and muscles different stimuli to adapt to. For example, both the smith machine and free weights can effectively reach your fitness goals. However, which one you should focus on depends on your goal. 

The smith machine is more stable and is a lot easier to control compared to free weights. Therefore, it’s not quite as effective at targeting your core and engaging your stabilizer muscles since it’s a fixed range of motion. However, the smith machine isolates the muscle you’re targeting. And it’s safer than free weights, so it’s more beginner-friendly

On the other hand, free weights are more effective at engaging your core since they require you to use your stabilizer muscles. It also requires balance and coordination since it allows movement in multiple planes. Free weights mimic real-world activities more. 

Amateur to Pro Status in the INBA PNBA

Although AJ Morris is currently an INBA PNBA amateur athlete, he plans to compete at Natural Olympia as a pro by 2023. In an IG post on November 12, 2021, after competing at Natural Olympia, Morris stated, “I will be back, and I will be a very competitive pro in 2023. All I need is time [sic]” 

For INBA PNBA athletes to earn their pro card, they must rise in amateur ranks and win a pro qualifier. Once athletes are eligible at the pro level, they have the opportunity to earn cash up to $10,000 and other prizes, such as a Harley-Davidson at Natural Olympia. And now, multi-media contracts with Generation Iron and Iron Man Magazine and athlete profiles


Try the smith machine out if you’re looking to isolate your chest more with heavy loads. However, opt for free weights if you want more real-world lifting experience and want to engage your core and stabilizer muscles. Both free weights and the smith machine help you effectively reach your fitness goal. However, we recommend starting with the smith machine since it’s safer if you’re a beginner.

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As a personal trainer and writer, Terry loves changing lives through coaching and the written word. Terry has a B.S. in Kinesiology and is an American College of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer. He enjoys playing music, reading, and watching films when he's not writing or training.