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How To: Smith Machine Shoulder Press

Smith Machine Shoulder Press
The overhead press is the best size and strength builder for the shoulders that’s out there, when it comes to shoulder training too many guys are working on excessive amounts of isolation via exercises such as the front raise, dumbbell lateral raise and rear deltoid fly… these exercises are useful for isolating the different heads of the shoulder however to build overall mass and powerful shoulder strength you need to be pressing heavy!

Movement: Isolation

Targets: Shoulders

Required: Smith Machine

Optional: N/A

Smith Machine Shoulder Press Form:

Adjust your smith machine to chest height for your barbell.

Grip the barbell with your palms facing away from you, slightly beyond shoulder width.

tighten your core and maintain an upright position on your supported bench as you unrack the barbell to collar bone height.

Drive the barbell upward, while not flaring out your elbows, continue until lockout.

Slowly lower the barbell back down to your collarbone.

Proceed for the desired number of repetitions.

Smith Machine Shoulder Press Variations

Dumbbell Shoulder Press

The seated shoulder press is fantastic for bringing up muscular imbalances in the shoulders.
Performed with two independent weights as opposed to one barbell you'll find yourself unable to compensate for your weaker side when performing the dumbbell shoulder press.

See also
How To: Cable Rear Delt Fly

Arnold Press

A rotating variation of the dumbbell shoulder press, hitting all heads of the deltoid.

Common Smith Machine Shoulder Press Mistakes


Not Pushing the Bar Vertically

The barbell should take the shortest path to the top – this is directly in-line with your body.
You should solely be pressing upward, not forwards or backwards.
Not only does pressing forward place more emphasis on the chest and front deltoids (as opposed to working the entire shoulder) you’ll struggle to lift the weight once you’re going heavy as this is more of an isolater and your balance can also be compromised as you push the barbell infront of you, making it a struggle to maintain your ground without falling forward..

Too Much Weight

You should be lifting a weight on your overhead press that you actually can lift with correct form for your prescribed number of repetitions.
If you’re struggling to get the weight up you’re setting yourself up for disaster.

Leaning forwards, falling backwards, utilizing momentum to drive the barbell upwards while pushing it away from your body… when excessive amounts of weight is used for pressing movements you’ll naturally do whatever you can to get it overhead.

Form ALWAYS comes first, muscling weight that’s too heavy for you to manage before dropping it on your head isn’t going to help you build the shoulder strength and size you want.

See also
How To: Windshield Wipers

Using A Limited Range Of Motion

Don’t expect to reap all the results of the overhead press if you’re only working half of the range of the exercise.
This is without a doubt the most common mistake I see being made with most exercises, and the overhead press is no exception! Your arms should be locked out at the top of each repetition with the barbell directly above your head. When lowering the barbell it should come all the way down to the top of your chest – don’t stop once the barbell is in line with your nose and your arms are parallel, you aren’t working the shoulders in their entirety.

Similar & Substitute Exercises 

  • Barbell Overhead Press
  • Arnold Press

Any Questions Regarding The Smith Machine Shoulder Press? Ask Below!

Scott J.
Scott J.
I’m SJ. I’m a fitness enthusiast and published author. I transformed my body from a skinny fat 135lbs with 18% body fat to a solid 192lbs at 8% body fat. I became qualified in a field I was passionate about. I founded several online businesses that allow me to pursue ideas and projects in my life that I am passionate about without having to constantly worry about money. I published several eBooks explaining the training and dieting techniques I used to achieve the body I have today. I learnt a plethora of new information on dieting and fitness by reading and applying what I read, to find out what does work and what doesn’t work, because as I’m sure you’ve noticed the health and fitness industry is full of non-sense claims and BS. I found out what was true and what worked for me and applied that knowledge. And you bet I had fun during the whole process.

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