Exercise Profile
  • Target Muscle Group
  • Exercise TypeStrength
  • Equipment RequiredMachine
  • MechanicsCompound
  • Force TypePush
  • Experience LevelBeginner
  • Secondary Muscles
Target Muscle Group


Shoulders Muscle Anatomy Diagram

Smith Machine Shoulder Press Overview

The Smith machine shoulder press is a variation of the barbell shoulder press and is used to strengthen the muscles of the shoulders.

Utilizing a Smith machine will ensure the bar path remains in a fixed position, eliminating some of the need to stabilize during the exercise. It's also a viable option for moving heavy weight without a spotter.

The overhead press is a foundational movement for establishing baseline strength and building a completely balanced physique.

The exercise can be included in shoulder workouts, push workouts, upper body workouts, and full body workouts.

Smith Machine Shoulder Press Instructions

  1. Place an adjustable bench in the Smith machine and adjust the back to a 90-degree angle.
  2. Adjust the bar to around eye level and load the desired weight on the bar.
  3. Position your hands around shoulder-width apart and unrack the bar using a pronated grip. This is the starting position for the movement.
  4. Press the bar overhead by extending the elbows and contracting the deltoids.
  5. Slowly lower the bar back to the starting position (the arms should be roughly 90 degrees or slightly lower depending on limb lengths).
  6. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Smith Machine Shoulder Press Tips

  • Don’t allow the head to jut forward excessively.
  • Drive the bicep to the ear and exhale as you press.
  • If you sense any pressure in your neck or traps during the movement, look to address a lack of thoracic spine extension or shoulder flexion.
  • If you can’t lock out the elbows overhead then it may indicate a lack of shoulder mobility due to poor scapular upward rotation.
Posted on: Fri, 03/04/2022 - 00:42

Huh this is the same exact exercise as the seated barbell press... I’m confused.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 03/10/2022 - 19:13

Hi, Drew. The difference is that the Smith machine helps you stay in the same fixed path of travel, which can be easier than the barbell version. Other than that, it is the same movement.

Posted on: Fri, 03/11/2022 - 03:01

Got it... I was asking because for the 4 day maximum mass workout it has seated barbell press in addition to the smith press. I guess I should just do the smith press which is a 5 min burn instead of doing both? Since they are basically the same exercise?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Fri, 03/11/2022 - 21:16

You can if you like.

Sandrina Mamonong
Posted on: Fri, 08/27/2021 - 00:26

Work out is Best for the body

Posted on: Thu, 08/26/2021 - 20:14

Nice workout

Posted on: Wed, 08/04/2021 - 11:24

Great workout

Posted on: Fri, 07/13/2018 - 14:50

could you use the shoulder free weight machine instead of the smiths ?

Oscar Cruz
Posted on: Wed, 03/02/2016 - 02:55

How many reps & sets?

Posted on: Sat, 10/15/2016 - 06:52

depends on ur program and goals

down votes
Posted on: Mon, 11/11/2013 - 14:29

why are there so many down votes

Posted on: Sat, 04/20/2013 - 07:09

this is for deltoid anterior head

Posted on: Sat, 04/20/2013 - 07:08

You should write, what main muscle group ,ok its shoulders but which part of the shoulder.... in this exercises is deltoid anterior head, like that

ramon lopez
Posted on: Thu, 01/31/2013 - 10:23

huh i hear the shoulder press of dumbbell that is same is military barbell press but i do two thing of combination between dumbbell and barbell also i don't do smith machine of barbell military press but also i do with dumbbell as shoulder press seat. yea i love shoulder press dumbbell because is gave the pump of the mass building to get hard cycle mass on it.

Posted on: Sat, 12/22/2012 - 00:29

I dont have a smith machine at my gym, are there any other exercies i can do similiar to this one?

mohd mahtab
Posted on: Fri, 11/25/2022 - 10:07

yeah you can similer like dumbell press

Posted on: Tue, 11/06/2012 - 21:37

A guy at the gym suggested instead of doing a smith shoulder press, I should do a standing shoulder press, one rep on the front, then back.

Shouldn't I be doing free weights rather than using a Smith Machine? Other than balancing, what is the advantage of using a Smith Machine VS free weights?

Posted on: Sun, 04/02/2017 - 19:00

You utilize more muscles when you use free weights, but people tend to cheat or have bad form when doing so, and if you use too much weight or bad form or rotating backwards or forwards too far you can cause a major shoulder injury. Using a Smith Machine makes it easier to target the shoulders and to push more weight usually in better form. It's best to start on the Smith Machine if you're starting off on working the shoulders (Like within the first 4-6 weeks) to focus on form and building strength, and then alternate between both forms (since they both have their own benefits).

Brian Owens
Posted on: Wed, 09/23/2020 - 16:33

That is how me and my workout partner do it

Posted on: Thu, 10/18/2012 - 13:58

I have done some Crossfit work in recent history and my trainer always emphasized "active shoulders" meaning to continue to push through with your shoulder muscles when doing things like push presses. Why is that we should not lock out our elbows while doing this exercise?

Satya Prakash
Posted on: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 13:54


I see many replies for various queries here in the website. Here is my 1st question:-
This exercise and military press look same. Can I use only one from here: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/10-week-mass-building-program...

Posted on: Mon, 09/03/2012 - 20:46

is there a substitute for this?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 09/04/2012 - 14:16

Seated barbell or dumbbell press.

Darlene Christianson
Posted on: Sun, 06/09/2013 - 15:15

What is a substitute for this exersize?

Posted on: Mon, 07/02/2012 - 11:05

No smith machine at gym. replaced it with seated dumbbell press is it just fine?

Posted on: Tue, 05/01/2012 - 03:02

can i replace this workout by doing pushups while hanging ?