Best Smith Machine Shoulder Exercises And Workout Of All Time

Do you want to know how to do Smith machine shoulder exercises to make your shoulder stronger and look better? Obviously, you want, which is why you are here.

Then, without wasting your time, let’s discuss the best Smith shoulder exercises to include in your shoulder workout routine.

They help you build up those deltoid muscles, which will give you a bigger shoulder with a full 3D appearance.

In this article, you will learn:

  • Best Smith Machine Shoulder Exercises
  • Shoulder Anatomy
  • Benefit Training Deltoid With Smith Machine
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7 Best Smith Machine Shoulder Exercises

Here are the best shoulder exercises you can do with a Smith machine to make your deltoid muscles bigger and stronger.

1. Smith Machine Seated Shoulder Press

The shoulder press is the most popular shoulder exercise for building big, round shoulder muscles.

The Smith Machine sat shoulder press targets the front part of the shoulder (anterior deltoid) and also trains lateral delts and traps.

The delt muscles can be isolated more because you don’t have to balance the bar.

Smith machine seated shoulder press has been the favorite shoulder exercise with bodybuilders as it builds muscle fast and is a power move.

Smith Machine Seated Shoulder Press

How To Do It

  1. Sit on an exercise bench and grab a bar with an overhand grip.
  2. Bring the bar over and in front of your head, under your chin, and just above your upper chest.
  3. Now Press the bar straight up overhead until your arms are fully extended but not locked out.
  4. Slowly lower the bar back to the starting position.


  • Perform a warm-up with 50% weight for 1–2 sets.
  • Always perform the Shoulder Exercises before you perform the triceps.

2. Smith Machine Behind The Neck Shoulder Press

The standard military press and the overhead dumbbell press hit more of the anterior head of the deltoid, which is often stimulated a lot, even during the bench press.

Behind the neck press, on the other hand, stimulates all the three heads of the shoulder, It also recruits the triceps, traps, and rhomboids.

The seated behind-the-neck shoulder press with the Smith machine is not recommended, especially if you are a beginner. The reason is that bringing the weight behind your neck under a heavy load may place your shoulder joint in a position where it can get damaged.

If you do not have a fair amount of shoulder mobility, this Smith machine shoulder exercise is not recommended.

Seated Smith Machine Behind The Neck Shoulder Press

How To Do It

  1. Put a bench under a Smith machine.
  2. Set the Smith machine bar to the height of your shoulders when you sit on the bench.
  3. Elevate the bar overhead by fully extending your arms while breathing out.
  4. Hold the contraction for a second and lower the barbell back down to the starting position.
  5. Do 8–12 Reps


  • Don’t bounce the bar off your neck. Perform the exercise in a slow and controlled manner.
  • Perform a warm-up with 50% weight for 1–2 sets.
  • Keep your elbows flared out, aligning with the shoulders or slightly behind.

3. Smith Machine Rear Delt Row

Smith rear delts row is a great exercise that works your rear deltoid and middle back, and to a lesser degree, it also targets the biceps, shoulders, and traps.

If you haven’t tried this exercise before, load the bar with a reasonable amount of weight. It is important to select a weight that allows you to maintain proper form.

Smith Machine Rear Delt Row

How To Do It

  1. Stand up straight while holding a bar using a wide (higher than shoulder width) and overhand (palms facing your body) grip.
  2. With slightly bent knees, bend over at the waist so that your chest is parallel to the floor.
  3. Keep your arms straight up and pull the bar towards your chest while squeezing your back muscles.
  4. Slowly lower to the starting position in a controlled manner.


  • Concentrate on the upper back and rear delt; the arms should be used as hooks.
  • Focus on the form before you go for a heavyweight.
  • Maintaining the right posture while working out is vital.

4. Smith Machine Upright Row

The smith machine upright row is a machine exercise that builds stronger and bigger traps, rhomboids and rear deltoids.

No doubt, it is one of the best exercises for building upper back, but it’s also easy to get wrong. Typically, this will just result in you missing out on the muscle-building benefits of the move. Incorrect technique can also place undue pressure on your shoulders and increase your risk of injury.

Smith machine upright row is a variation of the upright row that builds bigger and stronger shoulders.

Smith Machine Upright Row

How To Do It

  1. Select the desired weight and load it onto a barbell.
  2. Unpack the bar by rotating the safety latches off the j-hooks.
  3. Ensure that the barbell is resting against your thighs. Keep the bar close to your body.
  4. Inhale while pulling the bar to chest height.
  5. When the bar is at upper chest level, slowly reverse the movement back to the starting position.


  • Maintain a higher elbow height than your forearms.
  • Avoid using momentum to lift the bar. Instead, focus on deriving power from the upper body.
  • Don’t lean back as you pull the weight up.
  • Keep the motion under control, and don’t rely on momentum.
  • If machine upright rows bother your wrists, consider a dumbbell, cable upright row, or banded options, as these place less stress on the wrists.

5. Smith Machine Shrug

The smith machine shrug is perhaps the go-to movement when looking to tone or put on mass on the trapezius muscle. There are several variations of the shrug, smith-machine shrug in one of them.

It is usually performed for moderate to high reps, such as 8–12 reps per set or more, as part of shoulder or trap-focused training.

Smith Machine Shrug

How To Do It

  1. Hold the unlatched bar with an overhand grip in front of your thighs.
  2. Both your hands and your feet should be shoulder-width apart.
  3. Stand up and lift your shoulders towards your ears while keeping your arms straight.
  4. Hold the contraction for a second before lowering the bar back to the starting position.
  5. Do 10–12 reps and 3–4 sets


  • Focus on lifting the weight with your traps, not by your biceps.
  • Pausing at the top of the barbell shrug makes the exercise more challenging, and you’ll get more out of it.
  • Do not roll your shoulders, as this can lead to a shoulder injury.
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6. Behind The Back Smith Machine Shrug

The behind-the-back Smith machine shrug is an isolation exercise that targets the trapezius muscles, specifically the upper and middle trap.

Behind The Back Smith Machine Shrug

How To Do It

  1. Adjust the Smith machine bar to a height just below your glutes.
  2. Stand facing away from the machine with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  3. Grasp the bar behind your back with an overhand grip, hands slightly wider than shoulder-width.
  4. Reach behind your back and grab the bar with an overhand grip, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  5. Shrug your shoulders upwards and raise the bar as high as you can comfortably go.
  6. Squeeze your traps at the top of the movement for a second, then slowly lower the bar back to the starting position.
  7. Repeat for 8–12 repetitions, 3–4 sets.


  • Focus on lifting the weight with your traps and not by your biceps.
  • Pausing at the top of the barbell shrug makes the exercise more challenging and you’ll get more out of it.

7. Inverted Rear Delt Row

The Smith machine inverted rear delt row is a horizontal pulling exercise that targets the rear parts of your shoulders and synergistically activates the muscles of your back and arms.

To make the inverted rear delt row easier, raise the bar. On the other hand, you can make this exercise harder by putting the bar lower.

Inverted rear delt row

How To Do It

  1. Set the bar to waist height.
  2. Grab onto the bar with an overhand grip, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  3. Walk forward under the bar until your arms are perpendicular to the extended body. 
  4. Straighten your legs to hang off the bar at an angle.
  5. With your back straight and your legs extended, exhale as you pull your chest toward the bar with your elbows out to the sides.
  6. Hold the contraction for a second before lowering the bar back to the starting position.


  • Keep your back and neck neutral.
  • Keeping the elbow out to the sides helps to target the rear deltoid.
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Shoulder (Deltoid) Anatomy

In fitness, “shoulder exercises” refer to resistance exercises that target the deltoid muscle.

The deltoid is the superficial muscle that forms the rounded contour of your shoulder. While the deltoid is technically a single muscle, anatomically speaking, it has three distinct sets of muscle fibers and muscle bellies, which are referred to as “heads.

The deltoid muscle of the shoulder consists of three separate sections or heads.


Benefits Of Training Shoulder With Smith Machine

A Smith machine shoulder workout has many potential benefits. Below are some of the most common reasons why you should use the Smith machine during a deltoid workout.

1. Increases Muscle Isolation.

Smith machines effectively isolate the front, lateral, and rear deltoid. And due to the ability to change body position and not worry about stabilization. There are also many variations so that you can hone in on other muscles.  

This is why even pro bodybuilders use the Smith machine for their shoulder workout

2. You Do Not Need A Spotter

The bottom of every Smith machine has a catch system. This catch system acts as a sort of replacement for a spotter.

Basically, you can rerack the weight at any moment using the available hooks. 

3. Experienced Lifters Can Lift More.

Smith machines remove much of the need to stabilize. For experienced lifters, this means more weight and/or volume and, therefore, more significant gains. 

4. Reduced Chance Of Injury.

Your chances of injuries are reduced because of a lifter’s ability to focus on form and the catch system. However, this, of course, does not translate to a zero percent chance of injuries. Like any exercise, you need good form and technique. 


Free Weight Vs Smith Machine Shoulder Exercises

  • Free-weight shoulder exercises also allow for a more natural arc of movement because you’re not constrained by a machine.
  • The Smith machine offers a controlled path of motion and safety latches if you get stuck.
  • Free-weight presses require the most help from shoulder stabilizer muscle groups. This helps strengthen muscles that are often difficult to target, such as the rotator cuff, which can make you stronger and less susceptible to injuries.
  • The Smith machine relies on fewer stabilizer muscles, but this benefit comes with the tradeoff that smaller, weaker muscles will not interfere with your strength. This means you can lift heavier weights.
  • Even though the free-weight barbell shoulder workout is your go-to exercise for building muscle, switch between the two exercises regularly to get the best of both worlds. 
  • Don’t rely exclusively on the Smith machine; otherwise, your stabilizer muscle groups will weaken, eventually putting you at a greater risk for a shoulder injury.

Is the Smith machine good for the shoulder?

 There are many benefits to using the Smith machine for shoulder workouts. The Smith machine shoulder exercises are safer because they require less balance. Plus, you can use the safety stops or rack the weight if you get stuck.

It also allows you to lift more weight than you can with free-weight shoulder exercises.


You can perform numerous shoulder exercises with the Smith machine to build muscle and strength.

Some exercisers will go their entire lives without training on a Smith machine. They think the Smith machine will hurt them, even though they have never used it before.

The reality is that when used correctly, this much-maligned piece of gym equipment can be very useful, especially if your goal is hypertrophy.

They allow you to train safely and allow you to focus on lifting and lowering the weight instead of balancing or stabilizing it.


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