Smith Machine Overhead Press

Exercise Summary
Primary Muscle(s) Shoulders
Secondary Muscle(s) Triceps
Equipment Machine
Emphasis Compound
Type Push

Smith Machine Overhead Press Instructions

  • Place a bench in the machine angled at 90-degrees and set the barbell to the appropriate height.
  • Be seated in a strong, athletic posture: chest up, core braced, and shoulders pinned back.
    • Upper back is against the bench.
  • Grip the barbell slightly outside of shoulder-width. 
    • Your wrist should be stacked on top of your elbow.
    • Do not let your wrist "roll back".
  • As you grip the barbell, create torque off the bar by externally rotating your shoulder blades back into their sockets. 
    • You are creating a strong, safe shoulder position to press from.
  • Unrack the bar.
  • Press the bar in a controlled manner to a stable position overhead.
  • At the top, your arms are fully extended and the bar is in a stable position overhead.
    • Don't shrug your shoulders at the top.
  • In a slow, controlled manner, lower the weight down until the bar is just under your nose or chin.


  • Since it is a Smith Machine, the bar path will be fixed. Meaning, you can load the barbell a bit more than normal.
  • You ALWAYS want to be in control of the barbell. Do not fling the barbell up and down the machine.
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