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Smith Machine Shoulder Press 101 Video Tutorial

Gym Main Variation Strength


Smith Machine Shoulder Press
Smith Machine Shoulder Press

Exercise Synopsis

Target Muscle Group


Secondary Targets



Force Type


Required Equipment

Smith Machine

Fitness Level









The Smith Machine Shoulder Press is an exercise designed to target the shoulders as its primary muscle group, with additional emphasis on the triceps. Utilizing the Smith Machine, this compound movement provides stability and controlled vertical motion, making it suitable for individuals looking to develop shoulder strength and size. To execute the exercise, one typically sits or stands beneath the Smith Machine bar, grasping it with an overhand grip. The bar is then pressed overhead in a controlled manner, engaging the shoulder muscles. The Smith Machine's guided pathway enhances stability, allowing users to focus on the targeted muscle groups and maintain proper form. This exercise is a valuable addition to shoulder workouts, promoting controlled resistance and aiding in overall upper body strength development.

How to Perform

  1. Set up for the Smith Machine Shoulder Press by placing an adjustable bench inside the Smith machine and adjusting the backrest to a 90-degree angle, providing proper support for the exercise.

  2. Adjust the Smith machine bar to approximately eye level and load the desired amount of weight onto the bar, ensuring it is securely in place for a controlled workout.

  3. Position your hands at a shoulder-width distance and grasp the bar with a pronated grip, creating a stable starting position for the movement.

  4. Initiate the exercise by unracking the bar and bringing it to the starting position, maintaining control and stability throughout the process.

  5. Press the bar overhead by extending the elbows and engaging the deltoid muscles, focusing on a smooth and controlled motion to maximize shoulder activation.

  6. Gradually lower the bar back to the starting position, allowing the arms to reach approximately 90 degrees or slightly lower based on individual limb lengths, ensuring a full range of motion.

  7. Repeat the entire sequence for the desired number of repetitions, emphasizing proper form and controlled movements to target the shoulders effectively and engage the triceps as secondary muscles.


  1. Maintain proper neck alignment by avoiding excessive forward jutting during the Smith Machine Shoulder Press, ensuring a neutral and supported position throughout the exercise.

  2. Emphasize the engagement of the deltoids by driving the bicep toward the ear while exhaling during the pressing phase. This focused contraction optimizes shoulder activation and contributes to a more effective workout.

  3. Address any sensations of pressure in the neck or traps during the movement by evaluating and potentially improving thoracic spine extension and shoulder flexion. Maintaining flexibility in these areas promotes smoother and more comfortable execution of the exercise.

  4. Pay attention to the ability to lock out the elbows overhead, as difficulties in doing so may indicate limitations in shoulder mobility, potentially stemming from inadequate scapular upward rotation. Addressing these mobility issues can enhance the overall effectiveness of the Smith Machine Shoulder Press while reducing the risk of discomfort or strain.

How Not to Perform

  1. Avoid Overarching the Lower Back: To prevent mistakes and reduce the risk of lower back strain, refrain from overarching the lower back during the Smith Machine Shoulder Press. Maintain a neutral spine to ensure proper muscle engagement and prevent unnecessary stress on the lumbar region.

  2. Do Not Use Excessive Momentum: Resist the temptation to use momentum to lift the weight. Avoid sudden jerking or bouncing movements, as these not only waste energy but also compromise the isolation of the shoulders and triceps. Focus on controlled and deliberate motions for optimal muscle activation.

  3. Avoid Locking Out the Elbows Too Forcefully: Refrain from forcefully locking out the elbows at the top of the press, as this may strain the joints and reduce tension on the targeted muscles. Instead, aim for controlled extension to maintain constant tension on the shoulders and triceps throughout the movement.

  4. Do Not Neglect Proper Grip and Hand Placement: Avoid improper hand placement on the bar. Ensure a shoulder-width grip and proper alignment to prevent unnecessary stress on the wrists and shoulders. Incorrect hand positioning can lead to discomfort and compromise the effectiveness of the exercise.

  5. Avoid Allowing the Bar to Drift Forward: Prevent the bar from drifting excessively forward during the press. Maintaining a straight and controlled bar path ensures that the shoulders and triceps bear the load evenly, reducing the risk of injury and optimizing muscle engagement.

  6. Do Not Sacrifice Range of Motion: Avoid cutting the range of motion short. Ensure a full and controlled descent of the bar to maximize muscle activation. Incomplete range of motion diminishes the effectiveness of the exercise and limits the benefits for shoulder and tricep development.

  7. Avoid Excessive Elevation of the Shoulders: Refrain from elevating the shoulders toward the ears during the press. Maintain a stable and downward position of the shoulders to isolate the targeted muscles and prevent unnecessary tension in the neck and traps.


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.


Shoulder Press Machine






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.


Cable Machine






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