Smith machine seated overhead press

Smith machine seated overhead press

Exercise details

  • Target muscle: Anterior Deltoid

  • Synergists: Lateral Deltoid, Clavicular (Upper) Pectoralis Major, Triceps Brachii, Middle and Lower Trapezius, Serratus Anterior

  • Mechanics: Compound

  • Force: Push

Starting position

  • Place a chair in the Smith machine, under the bar.

  • Set the Smith machine bar at the same height that your head will be after you sit into position.

  • Secure the safety pins of the Smith machine so that the bar cannot drop low and hurt you.

  • Sit in position, plant your feet flat on the floor, and grasp the bar with a pronated (overhand) grip that is a little wider than shoulder width.

  • Rotate the bar to unlatch it from the rail.


  • Exhale as you press the bar upward until your arms are almost fully extended.

  • Inhale as you lower the bar to your upper chest.

  • Repeat for more repetitions.

  • Once you have finished, rotate the bar to latch it back onto the rail.

Comments and tips

  • Don’t look up; keep your head facing forward.

  • Don’t lock out your elbows.

  • To promote shoulder health, keep your elbows a little forward and not directly out to the sides.

  • To help you drive the bar upward, keep your feet planted and your back straight, and keep your wrists straight and directly above your elbows.

  • At the top of the press, you can shrug your shoulders to raise the bar even higher. This will get your upper trapezius involved as a synergist and help you to get more out of the exercise.

  • Provided you use the safety pins, the Smith machine seated overhead press offers a safe way of pressing a heavy weight overhead.