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The Ultimate Smith Machine Workout Guide

Ultimate Smith Machine Workout Guide

Push past plateaus, generate power and train safely — with a machine! Here’s why the Smith machine may be your new best friend in the gym.

Seated Overhead Press

TARGET: All three delt heads with emphasis on front and middle heads

START: Sit on a low-back bench placed inside the machine with your feet flat on the floor and shoulder width apart. Grasp the bar with a wide, palms-forward grip. Keep your head straight and eyes forward.

ACTION: Rotate the bar to unrack it and hold it at shoulder level. Powerfully press the bar directly overhead, squeezing your shoulders at the top. Slowly lower to the start position.

POWER POINTER: Adjust the seat slightly forward or backward based on your shoulder comfort, an aspect the Smith allows over the free-weight version. If you have a pre-existing injury, the Smith helps you work around it. You can also move your hands inward or outward along the bar to lessen or increase your triceps involvement.

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  • Sookraj Manorath

    Thank you for sharing all the power pointers on the different moves on the smith press. I work out on one and this is very helpful to me, very much appreciated.

  • Dave Murphy

    I find, when working with new people in the gym, the smith machine is great to ensure a smoother transition to the bench. I’ve noticed guys on the bench land the bar inconsistently on their chest and often times stray too far backwards, leading to shoulder strain. By starting on the smith, they can focus on the push up, position stability and getting that back arched correctly. Doing all three for novice lifters is difficult and can slow their training.The exercise allows these same guys to build up tricep strength and lift more in that plane of movement, which accelerates their overall lifting capacity, in my opinion. Can also be super beneficial in breaking through plateaus for advanced lifters. When combined with barbell incline and dumbbells as well, it can be a powerful tool. I think it gets way more flak and far less attention than it deserves. As with any tool, it has its time and place for use.


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