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Most people know the gym is the place to be to build muscle all over your body. But what are some gym machines specifically for bigger shoulder muscles?
Compared to other body parts, there are relatively few gym machines for training shoulder muscles.
One reason for this is that other shoulder workout equipment like dumbbells, kettlebells, a barbell, and even resistance bands are already such a great option.
Even so, these gym machines offer certain benefits like making sure your shoulders do as much of the work as possible. Machines also generally involve a lower injury risk.
That being said, even though your injury risk is likely slightly smaller compared to using free weights, like any exercise, there is always some risk of injury.
Keep your upper arms in the right angle range to keep your injury risk low. When in doubt talk to an expert.
1. Shoulder press machine
The shoulder press machine is basically a regular seated shoulder press in machine form. This makes it so the upward movement is fixed.
In turn, this leads to more focus on your shoulder muscles alone and less on other balance muscles.
The shoulder press is a typical shoulder exercise that is often done with dumbbells or a barbell.
This exercise focuses mainly on your front and side deltoids (main shoulder muscle). Besides that, your triceps will also have to work hard.
An added benefit of doing the shoulder press seated is that it becomes harder to use other body parts to lift the weight. Again this can lead to more focus on your shoulder muscles and less on other muscles.
The exercise for this machine is rather straightforward. Make sure you adjust the machine setting so you can do the exercise safely and well.
2. Cable machine
The cable machine is a type of gym machine where a steel frame holds weights and pulleys.
Thanks to the cable going through these pulleys and attached to these weights you can do many types of strength training exercises for a wide variety of muscles.
Thanks to the option of using one-handed grip attachments you can do cable shoulder exercises for all three main parts of the deltoid shoulder muscle.
If you only want to focus on your rear deltoids you would use the cable machine to do a bent-over rear delt fly. For this, you need two D-grip handle attachments and two pulleys at a low setting.
After that, stand bent-over, about 45 degrees to the ground, in the middle of the two pulleys with each hand holding the grip of the opposite side’s pulley.
Next, slowly raise your hands with the handles out to the side until they are at shoulder height. Keep your arms slightly less than stretched throughout the movement.
After that, return to the previous position in a controlled motion.
3. Lateral raise machine
The lateral raise is another typical shoulder exercise where you raise your arms sideways against resistance. This next option is that exercise in machine form. It generally has soft pads to put your arms against.
You can use this machine to train your side deltoids. Similar to the shoulder press machine you get the benefit of being seated. This can help you avoid using other muscles to raise the weights.
A potential downside is that this is not the most popular gym machine. Your local gym may not have a lateral raise machine.
Also similar to the shoulder press machine, the lateral raise machine is relatively easy to use. Just adjust the machine settings, select your desired weight, take a seat, and you can start your shoulder workout.
4. Smith machine
The smith machine looks similar to a squat rack but there are a few differences which make the smith machine more of a machine.
First of all, the barbell is attached to a rail system. This makes it so it can only move up or down alongside these rails and not forward or backward.
Secondly, it has a system where you can rack the barbell at any height.
These differences can be helpful for individuals who lift without a spotter and individuals who want to make barbell shoulder exercises less compounded and more isolated.
An example of a shoulder exercise you can do with the smith machine is the upright row. For this exercise, you want to start with the bar just below where your barbell is if you stand up straight with the barbell in your hands.
Grab the barbell with a pronated grip which means with your hand palms pointing downward/backward and unrack it. Stand up straight with your feet at more or less shoulder width.
After that, slowly raise the barbell straight upward in a controlled manner until your upper arms are about horizontal.
Lastly, lower the bar back to the starting position in a controlled motion and repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
By using a smith machine instead of a regular barbell you have to pay less attention to things like balance. This allows you to focus more on training your shoulder muscles.