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Machine Shoulder Press 101 Video Tutorial

Gym Main Variation Strength


Machine Shoulder Press
Machine Shoulder Press

Exercise Synopsis

Target Muscle Group


Secondary Targets



Force Type

Push (Bilateral)

Required Equipment

Shoulder Press Machine

Fitness Level











The Machine Shoulder Press is a resistance training exercise designed to target the shoulders, with additional engagement of the traps and triceps. Utilizing the Shoulder Press Machine, this exercise provides a guided and controlled motion for effectively working the shoulder muscles. To perform the Machine Shoulder Press, individuals typically adjust the machine seat and grips to align with their shoulder height. The exercise involves pushing the handles or grips away from the body, extending the arms upward in a vertical motion. This controlled press engages the deltoids, emphasizing shoulder development while also recruiting the traps and triceps. The guided nature of the machine allows for a stable and supported workout, making it suitable for individuals seeking to strengthen and define their shoulder muscles with minimized stress on surrounding joints.

How to Perform

  1. Position yourself comfortably in a seated stance within the Shoulder Press Machine, ensuring the handles are adjusted to approximately shoulder height. This initial setup is crucial for a targeted and controlled Machine Shoulder Press.

  2. Choose between a pronated or neutral grip as you securely grasp the handles. The grip variation provides flexibility based on individual preference and shoulder mobility, allowing for a personalized and effective exercise experience.

  3. Inhale deeply and initiate the movement by pressing the handles directly overhead. Focus on maintaining a stable seated position, engaging the shoulder muscles throughout the pressing phase for optimal development of the deltoids.

  4. Execute a controlled descent by slowly lowering the handles back to the starting position. This deliberate movement not only completes the full range of motion but also contributes to muscle engagement, targeting the shoulders, traps, and triceps effectively.

  5. Repeat the Machine Shoulder Press for the desired number of repetitions, emphasizing proper form and controlled movements. Adjust the machine settings according to individual biomechanics and gradually increase resistance to accommodate strength progression.


  1. Maintain a neutral head position and avoid excessive forward jutting during the Machine Shoulder Press to prevent unnecessary strain on the neck. A proper head alignment contributes to a stable and safe exercise execution.

  2. Enhance the effectiveness of the press by driving the biceps toward the ears while exhaling. This intentional movement optimizes shoulder engagement and facilitates a smoother and more controlled lifting phase.

  3. Pay attention to any sensations of pressure in the neck or traps throughout the movement. If experienced, consider addressing potential issues related to thoracic spine extension or shoulder flexion. Maintaining proper form and addressing mobility limitations can enhance the overall safety and efficacy of the exercise.

  4. Keep a slight bend in the elbows at the top of the press, avoiding complete lockout. This strategy ensures continuous tension on the shoulders, promoting a sustained muscle contraction and maximizing the benefits of the exercise.

  5. If locking out the elbows overhead proves challenging, it may indicate limited shoulder mobility linked to poor scapular upward rotation. Address this issue through targeted mobility exercises and gradual progression, promoting improved shoulder function and range of motion.

How Not to Perform

  1. Avoid Overarching the Lower Back: Resist the tendency to arch the lower back excessively during the Machine Shoulder Press. Maintain a stable and neutral spine to prevent unnecessary strain on the lower back and direct the focus solely on the shoulder muscles.

  2. Steer Clear of Using Momentum: Refrain from using momentum to initiate the press. Rapid or jerky movements can compromise form and reduce the effectiveness of the exercise. Instead, prioritize controlled and deliberate motions to ensure optimal muscle engagement.

  3. Do Not Lock Elbows: Resist the urge to lock out the elbows at the top of the press. Full elbow extension may place undue stress on the joints and detract from continuous tension on the shoulder muscles. Keep a slight bend in the elbows throughout the range of motion.

  4. Avoid Excessive Forward Lean: Prevent excessive forward leaning during the press. Maintaining an upright seated position ensures targeted engagement of the shoulders and minimizes involvement of other muscle groups. Proper form enhances the effectiveness of the exercise.

  5. Do Not Allow the Head to Jut Forward: Avoid protruding the head forward excessively during the press. Maintaining a neutral head position supports proper spine alignment and prevents unnecessary strain on the neck, allowing for a more focused and safer exercise.


Variations of fitness exercises refer to different ways of performing a specific exercise or movement to target various muscle groups, intensities, or goals. These variations aim to challenge the body differently, prevent plateaus, and cater to individuals with varying fitness levels.


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Alternative exercises in fitness refer to different movements or activities that target similar muscle groups or serve the same training purpose as the primary exercise. These alternative exercises can be used as substitutes when the original exercise is unavailable or challenging to perform due to various reasons such as equipment limitations, injuries, or personal preferences.