Smith machine seated overhead press exercise

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

  1. Place a chair in the Smith machine, under the bar.
  2. Set the Smith machine bar at the same height that your head will be after you sit into position.
  3. Secure the safety pins of the Smith machine so that the bar cannot drop low and hurt you.
  4. 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.
  5. Rotate the bar to unlatch it from the rail.


  1. Exhale as you press the bar upward until your arms are almost fully extended.
  2. Inhale as you lower the bar to your upper chest.
  3. Repeat for more repetitions.
  4. 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.
  • See also the standing wide-grip barbell overhead press, the seated dumbbell overhead press, and the twisting cable overhead press.

Smith machine seated overhead press video

Notice that in this demonstration of the Smith machine seated overhead press, the safety pins are locked into place to prevent the bar from falling.


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