There are many ways to train your shoulders. Discover the benefits of shoulder press machines to find out whether you should consider them.
While there are some things you can get from other movements too, the fixed range of motion, seat, and other features of the shoulder press machine lead to some relatively unique effects.
One important thing you do want to keep in mind is that some of these effects can also be a downside in certain situations. You may need to compensate with other exercises to do things like strengthening stabilization muscles.
1. Easier to focus on certain muscles
Similar to the regular shoulder press, the machine version is typically done to grow and strengthen a variety of muscles.
More specifically, the shoulder press machine mainly works your:
- Deltoids (mainly front and side)
- Pectoralis major to some extent
Compared to regular shoulder presses, especially dumbbell shoulder presses, the machine version will work your rear deltoids, pectoralis muscles, core muscles, and scapular muscles a lot less.
The difference is due to the fixed range of motion and the seated position. These muscles simply don’t have to work as hard to adjust the angles of your upper arms, adjust the position of your shoulders, and keep your body upright.
Two other things that make it easier to focus on the front deltoids, side, deltoids, and triceps with the shoulder press machine are that you have to worry less about balance and going through the optimal range of motion.
All of these things can be benefits of the shoulder press machine if you really want to focus on training your deltoids and triceps.
2. Helps you get used to shoulder press technique
The shoulder press is not the most technically advanced exercise out there but you do have to keep a few things in mind.
First of all, if you are new to this exercise or resistance training in general, paying attention to all these new things at once could be too challenging.
Additionally, it could just be more optimal to start learning the shoulder press technique in a way where there are fewer attention points like in the machine version.
Once you automatically start taking care of these attention points, you can turn to regular shoulder presses.
Next, doing shoulder presses with the wrong technique can be challenging for your shoulder joints. By starting with the machine version you could reduce injury risk.
In short, the shoulder press machine can help you establish the right habits in a few technique points in an easier and safer way. These things can be helpful for people who are new to shoulder presses.
3. Can improve mind-muscle connection
There is a resistance training called mind-muscle connection which comes down to being able to contract muscles by focusing on them.
If this is the first time you hear about mind-muscle connection or you have not really paid attention to developing this so far, it may feel like you are just not able to do this.
And while this could be true for now, the mind-muscle connection is something you can train with something like a shoulder press machine.
A complete shoulder isolation exercise like a lateral raise would be even better but exercises where you only work a few muscles can benefit mind-muscle connection.
Really focus your mind on engaging your deltoids and triceps during your shoulder press machine sessions and you could start to see more gains over time.
4. Keeps certain muscles fresh for the rest of your workout
Working a variety of muscles with shoulder compound exercises offers benefits but in some situations, more isolated movements like the shoulder press machine have their advantages too.
Regular shoulder presses work your rear deltoids, pectoralis muscles, core muscles, and scapular muscles more. However, you may want to do exercises that focus on these muscles in the same workout.
A more specific example can make this clearer. Let’s say you really want to train your rear deltoids but you find that regular shoulder presses are lacking in this area.
In that case, you could start with machine shoulder presses to keep your rear deltoids fresh. After that, you can do something like a bent-over rear delt raise.
Similarly, heavy lifters who do shoulder presses with a lot of weight may prefer to keep their core and the other muscles fresh for other movements.
5. Often easy weight adjustment
The first thing to note about this next benefit is that it does not apply to every single shoulder press machine.
That being said, many shoulder press machines allow you to switch your resistance by taking out a pin from the weight stack and simply inserting it at a different point.
This will be a lot quicker and more convenient than putting multiple weight plates on a barbell. Dumbbells are typically better in this area but you still have to go get them and put them back in the rack.
Something to note is that the difference in time and convenience will be relatively small in a single workout. At the same time, small changes do add up over time.
Lastly, there are also many shoulder press machines that use weight plates for resistance. In these models, this last benefit does not apply.
6. Simply still offers a good workout
The differences between shoulder press machines and the regular version can be worth paying attention to.
At the same time, no matter whether you are a beginner, experienced, male, or female, the overall effects of resistance training are likely what you are aiming for.
These include building muscle mass, keeping your muscles healthier, burning a few extra calories, improving mood, increasing bone density, improving sleep, etc.