12 Best Gym Machines for a Complete Upper Body Workout

Machines are a good way to build upper body stronger without having to spend hours at the gym.

They are a safe and structured way to challenge your upper body.

Gym machines offer a safe and effective way to target your upper body. The time has come to harness the power of the machine to train your shoulders, back, chest, and arms.

In this blog post, we’ll tell you about the best gym machines for upper body workouts and the best exercises you can do with them.

1. Seated Chest Press Machine

The chest press machine is one of the most popular pieces of gym equipment designed to work the chest muscles.

Unlike free weights, this exercise provides a guided motion, facilitating a more focused focus on the chest muscles without worrying about balance or control.

The machine can be adjusted to work different parts of the chest.

Seated chest press machines are also known as vertical chest press machines.

Muscle Worked

Chest Press Machine

2. Shoulder Press Machine

The Shoulder Press Machine is a staple in gyms and fitness centers worldwide. This machine is specifically designed to target the shoulder muscles, as it provides a controlled environment for overhead pressing movements. It is an excellent exercise for building the front and side deltoid muscles.

Machine presses have advantages over free-weight presses, providing better stability and safety.

They also have different grip options. A neutral grip (palms facing together) focuses more on the anterior deltoid better than a pronated grip (palms forward).  

Muscles Worked

  • The primary muscles worked are the front and side deltoids.
  • Secondary muscles include the triceps, upper trapezius, and serratus anterior.
Shoulder Press Machine

3. Lat Pulldown Machine

The lat pulldown machine is a gym powerhouse, designed to sculpt a strong, wide back by primarily targeting your latissimus dorsi (“lats”) muscles. Its versatility lies in the variations you can perform.

Simple changes to your grip, posture, or choice of bar transform this classic exercise into a complete back-building workout.

Many machines offer a selection of handle attachments, allowing you to customize your focus for even greater results.

Muscles Worked

  • Latissimus Dorsi: The primary target
  • Rhomboids: Supporting muscles in the back
  • Trapezius: Another supportive muscle group
  • Biceps: Secondary muscle group engaged during the pulldown.
How To Do Wide Grip Lat Pulldown

4. Preacher Curl Machine

The preacher curl machine isolates your biceps for serious growth. Its fixed position eliminates ‘cheating’ with momentum, letting you target those biceps with laser precision.

A wider grip during preacher curls will emphasize the short head of your biceps for well-rounded development.

Experiment with different variations of preacher curl, to discover what works best for maximizing your results.

  • Close grip Preacher Curl
  • Reverse Grip Preacher Curls
  • Wide Grip Machine Preacher Curl
  • Hammer Preacher Curls
  • Dumbbell Preacher Curls
Machine Preacher Curl

5. Machine Tricep Dip

The tricep dip machine isolates your tricep muscles to grow bigger and stronger.

Unlike traditional bodyweight dips, the machine provides a stable, controlled environment, minimizing involvement from your chest, shoulders, and back.

It’s a good exercise for beginners who want bigger and stronger arms because the controlled motion can reduce the risk of strain.

Tricep Machine Dip

6. Captain’s Chair

The Captain’s Chair (or vertical knee raise station) is a gym staple that delivers serious core work. Armrests and back support offer a more comfortable alternative to hanging leg raises while hitting the same muscle groups.

Don’t let the comfort fool you – the American Council on Exercise named the standard Captain’s Chair crunch one of the most effective exercises for blasting your abs and obliques.

Some of the exercises that can be performed on the Captain’s Chair include:

  • Straight leg raises: Raise legs up together to 90 degrees.
  • Hanging knee raises: Bring bent knees to the chest.
  • Oblique knee raises: Bring right knee to left elbow, twist obliques
  • Flutter kicks: Rapid, small kicks replicating swimming
  • L-sit holds: Hold the leg raised at 90 degrees.
Captain Chair Straight Leg Raise

7. Double Pulley Cable Machine

The double pulley cable machine unlocks a whole new world of muscle-building potential.

Unlike free weights, it maintains constant tension throughout your entire workout, maximizing muscle growth.

Its adjustable pulleys let you target your upper body from every angle, making it ideal for blasting your shoulders, back, and arms.

Below are some effective upper body exercises you can perform on the cable machine.

Cable Lateral Raise

8. Smith Machine for Upper Body Workouts

The Smith Machine isn’t just for squats and bench presses.

This guided barbell system offers a unique and safe way to sculpt your entire upper body.

Its controlled movements make it a good choice for both beginners and experienced lifters.

Muscles Targeted

Smith Machine upper body exercises can work a variety of muscle groups, including:

  • Deltoids (shoulders): Smith Machine overhead press, upright rows, behind-the-neck press (use caution), bent-over rows
  • Trapezius (Upper back): Upright rows, shrugs
  • Latissimus Dorsi (lats): Bent-over rows, rack pulls
  • Triceps: Close-grip variations of presses
  • Biceps: Close-grip variations of rows

Specific Exercises

  • Smith machine bench press: Works the pecs, delts, and triceps. Adjust the bar path to target different areas of the chest.
  • Smith Machine Overhead Press: Primarily targets shoulders and also engages triceps.
  • Smith Machine Upright Row: Works deltoids, upper and middle trapezius. Choose a grip width that’s comfortable for your shoulders.
  • Smith Machine Shrugs: Isolates upper trapezius and rear deltoids, building strength and muscle in the upper shoulder and neck area.
  • Smith Machine Bent-Over Rows: Targets lats, rhomboids, and middle trapezius – great for overall back strength and posture.
  • Rack Pulls: Focus on lower traps, lats, and spinal erectors for a powerful back.
  • Many More……
Smith Machine Incline Press

9. Pec Deck Machine

The Pec Deck Machine, also called the machine chest fly, is mainly designed to work on the chest muscles. It consists of a seat with a backrest and two arm pads or handles on each side.

The Fly Machine works on the horizontal adduction of the arm. 

It can also be used to do reverse fly exercises for the back.

For the Reverse Fly, you’ll be using the machine in a way that’s opposite to the conventional pec deck fly.  The pec deck rear delt fly targets your upper back muscles, particularly the rear deltoids, Traps, and rhomboid.

How Does The Machine Chest Fly Work

10. Rowing Machine

The rowing machine isn’t just for mimicking a boat – it’s a full-body workout powerhouse! This simulated rowing experience delivers serious cardio benefits while simultaneously sculpting muscles across your entire body.

How does it work?

The rower features a sliding seat, footrests, a resistance-based flywheel, and a handle connected by a chain or rope. This simple design translates into complex, high-intensity training.

Muscles Worked

The rowing machine engages multiple muscle groups, making it a comprehensive workout option:

  • Leg MusclesQuadriceps, 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 MusclesBoth 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.
Rowing Machine

11. Assisted Pull-Up Machine

Pull-ups are among the best bodyweight exercises for building upper body strength. 

However, they can be challenging for many people, especially those new to fitness or recovering from an injury. This is where the Assisted Pull-Up Machine comes into play.

This specialized gym equipment has a counterweight system that offsets some of your body weight, making it easier to perform pull-ups or chin-ups. 

Muscles Worked

  • Works the lats, biceps, forearms, and shoulder muscles.
  • Hits the middle and upper back, including the rhomboids and lower traps.
  • The core is engaged to stabilize the body during the movement.
Band Assisted Chin-Ups And Pull-Ups

12. Oblique Machine Twist

The Oblique Twist Machine, also known as the Rotary Torso Machine, is specifically designed to work on the oblique muscles on the sides of the abdomen.

It is a versatile piece of equipment to help you achieve a stronger and more toned core. The machine lets you rotate your trunk against resistance.

These machines typically consist of a seat that the user sits on and a cushioned handle in front that the user holds on to.

You can do ab exercises using an oblique twist machine.

  • Seated machine oblique twist
  • Standing machine oblique twist
Seated machine oblique twist.

Machine Upper Body Workouts Routine Plan

Day 1: Chest and Triceps

Machine Chest Press48-10
Machine Chest Fly310-12
Triceps Pushdown Machine38-10
Overhead Triceps Extension Machine310-12

Day 2: Back and Biceps

Seated Row Machine38-10
Lat Pulldown Machine310-12
Machine Bicep Curls310-12

Day 3: Shoulders and Traps

Machine Shoulder Press48-10
Machine Lateral Raise310-12
Machine Shrugs310-12
Oblique Machine Twist312-15

Day 4: Full Upper Body

Machine Chest Press210-12
Seated Row Machine210-12
Triceps Pushdown Machine210-12
Machine Shoulder Press210-12
Machine Bicep Curls210-12

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