Your shoulders are very important joints and muscles in your body. They enable one to move their arms in a variety of ways, including lifting, pushing, and pulling. Strong and healthy shoulders are essential for everyday activities, as well as for many sports and exercises.
Building strong, stable shoulders is important for preventing injuries, improving posture, and building upper body strength. But it can be difficult to properly target all areas of the shoulders with free weights alone.
One of the best ways to build strong and healthy shoulders is to use gym machines. Gym machines offer a number of advantages over free weights. Machines allow you to isolate and work all the three heads of the deltoid to build a bigger and stronger shoulder.
In this blog, we will discuss the benefits of using gym machines for shoulder workouts. We’ll show you how to do the exercise correctly and other shoulder exercises that you can do on gym machines. We will also give you a shoulder workout plan that uses gym machines.
You are ready to take your shoulder workout to the next level. Keep reading and practising.
- Shoulders Anatomy And Function
- Anterior Deltoid
- Lateral Deltoid
- Posterior Deltoid
- Top Gym Machines For Shoulder Workouts With Exercises
- 1. Shoulder Press Machine
- 2. Smith Machine For Shoulder Workout
- 3. Double Pulley Cable Machine
- 4. Pec Deck Machine (Reverse Fly Machine)
- How Does It Work?
- 5. Lateral Raise Machine
- 6. Shrug Machine
- 7. Rowing Machine
Shoulders Anatomy And Function
In fitness, “shoulder exercises” refers to resistance exercises that target the deltoid muscle. The shoulder is a “ball-and-socket” joint between the humerus bone of the upper arm and the scapula bone (shoulder blade).
Six main movements that occur at the shoulder are flexion, extension, abduction, adduction, internal rotation, and external rotation.
The deltoid muscle of the shoulder consists of three separate sections or heads.
You need to work all three of them, along with the trapezius muscle in the upper back, to build an impressive shoulder.
It is commonly called the front delt. It arises from your collar bone and inserts into your humerus (upper arm bone).
Your front delt’s main function is to move your arm up, forward, and to your centre.
It has a few common names, such as side delts, middle delts. It arises from a little area on the shoulder blade called the acromion process and inserts into the humerus.
Your lateral delt’s main function is shoulder abduction, which is bringing it up to the side.
It also knows as the rear delt. It arises from the spine of the scapula (upper part of your shoulder blade) and inserts into the humerus.
Your posterior delts main function is moving the arm outward and backward.
It is often called the traps, this is a large triangular shaped upper back muscle.
The main function of the traps is to support head movement, stabilize certain arm motions and provide stability in pushing and pulling movements.
Top Gym Machines For Shoulder Workouts With Exercises
Having strong, stable shoulders is a key fitness goal for many gym-goers. While free weights like barbells and dumbbells are effective tools, it is important to consider shoulder workout machines when developing your shoulder training regimen.
Machines help isolate muscle groups, improve form, and make it safer to lift heavier weights overhead. Here are 10 gym machines that you can use for a complete shoulder workout:
1. Shoulder Press Machine
The Shoulder Press Machine, sometimes referred to as the “Military Press Machine,” is a staple in gyms and fitness centres around the world. This machine is specifically designed to target the shoulder muscles, as it provides a controlled environment for overhead pressing movements. The shoulder machine press is an excellent exercise for building the front and side deltoid muscles.
Machine presses have advantages over free weight presses, as they provide better stability and safety. They also offer a choice of handgrips. A neutral grip (palms facing together) focuses more on the anterior deltoid better than a pronated grip (palms forward).
This exercise requires a very strict movement because the bar is fixed to the rack and the weights can go much lower. This gives the front deltoid muscles a good stretch.
- The primary muscles worked are the front and side deltoids.
- Secondary muscles include the triceps, upper trapezius, and serratus anterior.
How Does It Work?
- Sit with your back against the backrest and your feet flat on the floor.
- Depending on the machine design, grip the handles with an overhand grip or a neutral grip (palms facing each other). Make sure your grip is secure and comfortable.
- Bend your elbows at about a 90-degree angle and keep them level with your shoulders
- Now press the handles overhead until your arms are nearly locked out.
- Lower the handles back to the starting position under controlled motion.
2. Smith Machine For Shoulder Workout
The Smith Machine is a gym apparatus known for its guided barbell system. This allows for movements to be safer and more controlled than with traditional free weights. While it is often used for a variety of exercises such as squats and smith machine bench presses, the Smith Machine is also an excellent addition to your shoulder training regimen as well.
For shoulder workouts on the Smith Machine, the muscles targeted can vary based on the exercises chosen. However, here are some of the most commonly targeted shoulder muscles:
- Smith Machine Overhead Press: It primarily targets the shoulder muscles and helps to build strength and mass.
- Smith Machine Upright Row: By pulling the barbell towards your chin, you’ll engage the deltoids and the upper and Middle trapezius.
- Smith Machine Behind Neck Press: This places more emphasis on the side and rear delts. Carefully press the bar up from behind your head, being cautious not to strain your neck.
- Rack Pulls: Focus on the lower traps, latissimus dorsi, and erector spinae.
- Smith Machine Shrugs: This exercise primarily targets the upper trapezius and rear deltoids muscle. It’s a simpler movement but effective for adding strength and size to the upper shoulders and neck region.
- Bent-Over Rows: Target the latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, and middle trapezius.
- Smith Machine Rear Delt Row: It targets the rear deltoids and helps to improve posture and upper back strength.
Muscles Worked During Smith Machine Shoulder Press
- The primary muscles worked are the front deltoids and side lateral deltoids.
- Secondary muscles worked include the triceps, trapezius, and serratus anterior.
How Does It Work?
- Adjust the height of the barbell so that it aligns with your shoulders when you are seated or standing.
- Load the barbell with the appropriate weight plates, ensuring they are securely fastened.
- Stand or sit with your back straight, feet shoulder-width apart for balance.
- You should grip the barbell with your palms facing away from you and your hands just wider than shoulder-width apart.
- Unhook the barbell and lower it to the starting position, at shoulder height.
- Engage your core and press the barbell upwards,
- Slowly lower the barbell back down to the starting position.
- Perform your desired number of repetitions and sets.
3. Double Pulley Cable Machine
The Double Pulley Cable Machine is a versatile and effective piece of gym equipment that offers a wide range of exercises for muscle targeting and isolation. Unlike free weights, the cable machine provides constant tension throughout the range of motion.
Featuring two adjustable pulleys, this machine allows you to perform an array of pulling and lifting movements from various angles, optimizing your shoulder training for strength, hypertrophy, or endurance.
Here are some effective shoulder exercises you can perform on this versatile machine:
- Cable Lateral Raise: It offers an effective way to train the lateral Deltoid.
- Cable Front Raise: It is particular focus on the anterior deltoid.
- Face Pulls: Great for working the rear deltoids and upper traps, also beneficial for shoulder health.
- Cable High Row: Targets upper lats and traps, great for sculpting the upper back.
- Cable Y-Raise: Focuses on the lower traps, helps improve posture and shoulder stability.
- Cable Shrugs: Targets the upper trapezius, great for building bigger shoulders.
- Cable Upright Row: It emphasizes the middle and upper trap, rear and lateral Delt.
- Standing Low Cable Row: This variant targets the lats and lower traps while engaging the core for stabilization.
- Cable Pull-Through: Primarily targets the lower back and glutes, but also engages the lats, shoulder muscles during the pulling motion.
Muscle Worked During Cable Lateral Raises
- Primary Muscle Worked : Lateral deltoid.
- Secondary Muscle Worked: Anterior deltoid, posterior deltoid, trapezius, supraspinatus.
How Does It Work?
- Attach a single-grip handles to the lowest point of the cable pulley system.
- The handle from the right pulley should be in your left hand, and the handle from the left pulley should be in your right hand. The cables should be crossed and pulled tightly.
- With elbows slightly bent, raise your arms to shoulder level, leading with the elbow.
- Slowly lower your arms back down until you feel a stretch in your delts and repeat.
4. Pec Deck Machine (Reverse Fly Machine)
The Pec Deck Machine is traditionally used for chest exercises, but can be adapted for a Reverse Fly to target your upper back and shoulder muscles. The Pec Deck Machine usually consists of a seat, back support, and two arm pads or handles that can be adjusted to various angles.
For the Reverse Fly, you’ll be using the machine in a way that’s opposite to the conventional pec deck fly. It is a simple yet effective exercise that increases deltoid muscle definition and strength. The pec deck rear delt machine fly targets your upper back muscles and shoulder muscles, particularly the rear deltoids, (backside of your shoulders), Traps and rhomboid.
The Rear delt fly machine provides consistent resistance throughout the entire range of motion. Additionally, this machine offers various technical adjustments, such as grip positions, trajectory, and range of motion settings.
- The primary muscles worked by the pec deck machine are the rear deltoids.
- The exercise also targets secondary muscles such as the rhomboids, teres major, infraspinatus, and middle trapezius.
How Does It Work?
- The seat height and position of the handles should be adjusted to ensure a comfortable fit for your body size.
- Sit on the machine with your chest against the pad or support. Your feet should be flat on the floor, and your knees should be slightly bent. Grab the handles.
- Maintain a tall, upright posture throughout the exercise. Keep your shoulders relaxed and avoid shrugging them up.
- Maintaining a slight bend in your elbows and pull your arms outward and backward in an arc-like motion, simultaneously.
- Keep pulling until your arms are stretched out to the sides.
- Hold the contracted position for a brief moment to emphasize the tension in your rear deltoids.
- Slowly release the tension and return your arms to their starting position.
5. Lateral Raise Machine
The Lateral Raise Machine is a special piece of gym equipment that helps isolate the deltoid muscles, especially the side delt. The range of motion is controlled, so you can target these muscles without having to work other muscle groups.
It allows for a safer and more stable workout experience. The exercise helps build shoulder strength and mass, improve mobility and flexibility, and upper back strength.
The machine consists of a seat with a backrest, a set of handles that are attached to weight stacks, and a lever that is used to adjust the weight.
- The primary muscles worked are the side deltoids.
- Secondary muscles include the upper traps, and rotator cuff.
How Does It Work?
Performing the lateral raise on this machine is fairly straightforward. Here’s how:
- Ensure the seat height aligns your shoulders with the machine’s arms.
- Sit on the seat, put your feet flat on the ground, and keep your back against the backrest.
- Place your arms under the padded levers and make sure that your elbows and wrists are in a neutral position.
- Exhale and lift the padded levers by raising your arms out to the sides, focusing on contracting the lateral deltoids.
- Inhale and slowly lower the padded levers back to the starting position.
- Perform 3-4 sets of 8-12 repetitions.
6. Shrug Machine
The Shrug Machine, also called the Trap Machine, is a special piece of gym equipment that makes doing shrugs easier and effective. The lever or handles usually align with your shoulders, providing a comfortable grip and a controlled range of motion.
Unlike dumbbells or barbells, the Shrug Machine targets the upper trapezius muscles and minimizes the involvement of other muscle groups. It has an ergonomic design that lets you focus on muscle engagement, which makes it a good choice for targeting the trapezius muscles.
- Primarily works the trapezius muscles.
- Secondarily works the Mid & Lower trap, rhomboids and levator scapulae.
How Does It Work?
- Stand or sit (depending on the machine design) with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Grip the handles or the lever bars with your palms facing inwards or downwards.
- Start with your shoulders relaxed and arms fully extended.
- Take a deep breath and engage your core. Next, raise your shoulders up towards your ears and squeeze your upper trapezius at the top of the movement.
- Slowly release the contraction and lower your shoulders back to the starting position.
7. Rowing Machine
The Rowing Machine, often just referred to as a “rower,” is a gym equipment piece designed to simulate the action of rowing a boat. It is an excellent tool for cardiovascular conditioning while also providing substantial muscular engagement across various body parts.
Consisting of a sliding seat, footrests, a handle attached to a chain or rope, and a flywheel for resistance, the rowing machine is as versatile as it is effective.
Rowing machines are an all-in-one solution for burning calories, improving cardiovascular health, or gaining strength.
The rowing machine engages multiple muscle groups, making it a comprehensive workout option:
- Leg Muscles: Quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves are engaged during the leg push-off phase.
- Back Muscles: The latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, and upper traps are worked as you pull the handle toward you.
- Core Muscles: Your abs, obliques, and lower back.
- Arm Muscles: Both the biceps and triceps are worked during the pulling and recovery phases.
- Shoulder Muscles: The rear deltoids are engaged when pulling the handle, while the front deltoids are involved during the recovery.
How Does It Work?
- Sit down on the sliding seat and secure your feet in the footrests.
- Grab the handle with both hands and extend your legs.
- Slide forward on the seat by bending your knees and approaching the flywheel.
- In a fluid motion, push through your heels to extend your legs and pull the handle toward your lower ribs.
- Reverse the motion to return to the initial position, extending your arms before bending your knees to slide back toward the flywheel.
Gym machines can be a great way to build stronger, more stable shoulders, improve posture, and reduce injury risk. Different handles and movement variations allow you to target all areas of the shoulders for complete development.
Some of the most popular gym machines for shoulder workouts include the shoulder press machine, lateral raise machine, and reverse fly machine.
Also, you can use the Smith machine and cable machines to do a complete shoulder workout. The Smith machine is excellent for overhead presses, while cables allow you to hit every angle.
So the next time you’re at the gym, don’t forget these powerful tools for sculpting your delts.
Manish brings over 10 years of hands-on experience in weight lifting and fat loss to fitness coaching. He specializes in gym-based training and has a lot of knowledge about exercise, lifting technique, biomechanics, and more.
Through “Fit Life Regime,” he generously shares the insights he’s gained over a decade in the field. His goal is to equip others with the knowledge to start their own fitness journey.