Generally speaking, compound movements engage multiple body parts in free-flowing movements using free weights. In comparison, machines are considered a safe and efficient way of targeting specific muscle groups through isolation exercises.
The following article will explain the importance and difference between compound and isolation exercises.
Therefore, it is worth investing in shoulder workout machines to target these areas when looking to improve one’s shoulder muscles, specifically the delt muscles.
However, what machines should you invest in, and what exercises should you perform?
You should invest in the following three shoulder workout machines:
- A shoulder press
- A smith machine
- A cable crossover
These machines allow you to perform various exercises that target the anterior deltoid, lateral deltoid, and posterior deltoid.
Along with discussing the different isolation exercises, we will also discuss why machines are essential in building shoulder muscles, how to identify the correct machine and a review of the best shoulder machines on the market.
If you are in a hurry to see the best shoulder machines, check out the table below.
- 1 What Machines Do You Need to Build Shoulder Muscles? 🏋️♀️
- 1.1 The Best Shoulder Press Machines
- 1.2 The Best Smith Machines
- 1.3 The Best Cable Crossover Machines 😍
- 2 What Are the Best Shoulder Workouts You Can Do With Machines? 🦾
- 2.1 The Best Shoulder Press Machine Exercises
- 2.2 The Best Smith Machine Shoulder Exercises
- 2.3 The Best Cable Cross Machine Shoulder Exercises
- 2.3.1 1. Cable Overhead Press
- 2.3.2 2. One-Arm Cable Front Raise
- 2.3.3 3. One-Arm Cable Lateral Raise
- 2.3.4 4. Cable Lateral Raise
- 2.3.5 5. Cable Face Pull
- 2.3.6 6. Cable Bent Over Reverse Fly
- 2.3.7 7. Cable Reverse Fly
- 2.3.8 8. Cable Upright Row
- 2.3.9 9. Cable Cuban Press
- 2.3.10 10. Cable Supine Reverse Fly
- 2.3.11 11. Rotator Cuff Rotation
- 3 Why You Should Use Machines to Build Your Shoulders? 🙆♂️
- 4 Conclusion 🤗
What Machines Do You Need to Build Shoulder Muscles? 🏋️♀️
Although there are various machines available that allow you to perform shoulder exercises, the following three types of shoulder machines will enable you to perform a range of isolation exercises to maximize your shoulder workouts:
- The shoulder press
- The smith machine
- The cable crossover machine
The Best Shoulder Press Machines
The three best shoulder press machines on the market are:
1. Body-Solid Shoulder Press Machine
The Body-Solid shoulder press machine is ideal for commercial gyms due to its lifetime guarantee and 11 gauge steel frame.
2. Yukon Fitness Shoulder Machine
The Yukon Fitness Shoulder Machine is a compact shoulder press machine that allows free weight loading on a barbell, ideal for home use.
3. TDS Shoulder Press Machine
The TDS Shoulder Press Machine is a versatile and affordable shoulder press machine perfect for small gyms and home use.
Make sure to have a clear budget when buying a shoulder press machine.
This is most relevant when comparing machines designed for home use versus machines intended for commercial use.
Although a shoulder press machine is an excellent addition to any gym, there’s no denying that it is a little machine that only offers a single exercise (albeit an excellent exercise for overall shoulder strength and growth.)
If you are looking for machines and equipment, then a shoulder press machine may not be a worthwhile investment for you.
Size And Build
Shoulder machines come in various sizes with different weight mechanisms, such as manually loaded free weights or built-in weights that you can freely adjust.
The Best Smith Machines
The three best Smith machines on the market are:
1. XMark Functional Trainer Cable Machine
The XMark Functional Trainer Cable Machine is perfect for large commercial gyms.
2. ARCHON Wall Mount Cable Crossover Station
The ARCHON Wall Mount Cable Crossover Station is an easy to assemble and affordable cable crossover machine that uses separate free weights.
3. Body-Solid Powerline PFT100
The Body-Solid Powerline PFT100 is ideal for home use or small gyms.
Although most cable crossover machines are known for their versatility, not all machines are smooth and usable.
Therefore, the pulley system of the machine must operate smoothly and efficiently.
Cable crossover machines require different handles and weight settings to get the most out of them.
The Best Cable Crossover Machines 😍
The two best cable crossover machines on the market are:
1. Force USA G3 Trainer
The Force USA G3 Trainer is the perfect Smith machine for smaller spaces of home use.
2. Body-Solid SCB1000 Pro
The Body-Solid SCB1000 Pro is the perfect Smith machine for commercial gyms or serious athletes.
Because Smith machines vary significantly in size and make, weight capacity can fluctuate depending on which Smith machine you buy.
Ease Of Assembly
Smith machines can be very complex and challenging to build, especially if you intend to construct the machine at home.
Therefore, it is worth seeing if the company you are buying the machine from is willing to install it on your behalf.
What Are the Best Shoulder Workouts You Can Do With Machines? 🦾
Now that we know the three machines you need to perform isolation shoulder exercises, let’s look at the best shoulder exercises you can achieve with each machine:
The Best Shoulder Press Machine Exercises
The best shoulder press machine exercise is the seated overhead shoulder press.
- Begin the exercise by sitting and facing away from the weights
- Adjust the seat until you can comfortably grab a handle in each hand at shoulder height
- Keep your elbows bent and close to your body as you engage your core
- Exhale as you slowly push the handles above your head until your arms lockout
- Pause for 1-2 seconds while squeezing your deltoids and traps
- Slowly return the handles to the starting position to complete a rep
Although the shoulder press machine may lack the versatility of other machines, its simplicity allows you to build your traps, anterior delts, and lateral delts without needing a spotter.
The Best Smith Machine Shoulder Exercises
The three best Smith machine exercises are:
- Smith machine overhead press
- Smith machine upright row
- Smith machine shrug
1. Smith Machine Overhead Press
- Begin the exercise by sitting on a gym bench with back support underneath the barbell of the Smith machine
- Hold the bar wider than shoulder-width above shoulder height while using a double overhand grip.
- Grip the bar and press it overhead until your arms are completely locked out
- Pause at the top and then slowly return the bar to the starting position to complete one rep
Similar to doing an overhead shoulder press with a shoulder press machine.
At the same time, the added back support and seated position isolates your traps, anterior delts, and lateral delts during the exercise.
2. Smith Machine Upright Row
- Start the exercise by keeping your feet shoulder-width apart
- Grab the barbell with an overhand grip, and your arms/hands positioned slighter wider than shoulder length apart
- Position the bar at your thighs while keeping your arms straight
- Engage your core and bend your knees when releasing the bar
- Focus on using your shoulders and traps to lift the bar to chest height, and let your elbows flare to the sides
- Pause for 1-2 seconds while squeezing your shoulder muscles before slowly returning the bar to the starting position to complete a rep
Using a Smith machine over free weights improves muscle activation of your three delts and traps while reducing stress on your back.
See the best smith machines we recommend below.
3. Smith Machine Shrug
- Begin this exercise with the bar position starting at the middle of your thighs
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart and grab the bar with a pronated grip shoulder-width apart.
- Straighten your arms and back while engaging your core
- Exhale as you slowly lift the bar until your delts are fully extended to your ears
- Pause for 1-2 seconds while squeezing your delts before slowly returning the bar to the starting position to complete a rep
The Smith machine is a fantastic choice for doing shoulder shrugs, as it allows you to load multiple weights on the bar without fear of dropping the weights.
Therefore, you can max out your shoulder shrugs with the Smith machine in a way that other shrugs do not allow.
The Best Cable Cross Machine Shoulder Exercises
The eleven best cable cross machine exercises are:
- Cable overhead press
- One-arm cable front raise
- One-arm cable lateral raise
- Cable-lateral raise
- Cable face pull
- Cable bent-over reverse fly
- Cable reverse fly
- Cable upright row
- Cable Cubin press
- Cable supine reverse fly
- Rotator cuff rotation
1. Cable Overhead Press
- Begin this exercise with your back to the cable machine, standing straight with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Grip the handles just above should height with your palms facing forward and your elbows bent at your sides
- Keep your knees bent and push your arms overhead until they lock out.
- Pause for 1-2 seconds and engage your shoulders and your core
- Slowly return to your starting position to complete a rep
The cable crossover machine lets you perform a shoulder press that targets all three of your delts in a single movement while increasing your time under tension with a set weight throughout the exercise.
2. One-Arm Cable Front Raise
- Begin the exercise facing away from the cable raise while gripping the hand of the cable raises slightly behind your back leg
- Raise your arm in front of you in a controlled motion until the handle reaches shoulder height
- Pause for 1-2 seconds at your shoulders before slowly returning the handle to the starting position to complete one rep
Although front raises are often done with free weights such as dumbbells, using a cable cross machine allows you to perform this exercise in a controlled fashion.
Consequently, this improves your form and control by avoiding the “swing motion” commonly seen in front raises.
The exercise targets your anterior delt while simultaneously improving your lateral power.
3. One-Arm Cable Lateral Raise
- Begin the exercise by standing to one side of a cable machine
- Hold the handle of the cable machine with your outside hand and your palm facing toward you. Let your arm hang by your side
- Slowly extend your arm to your side until your arm locks out at shoulder height
- Pause for 1-2 seconds before slowly returning your arm to the starting position to complete one rep
Lateral raises, as the name implies, target the lateral delts.
Therefore, this is an essential exercise for holistic muscle growth, strengthening, and flexibility, as lateral delts are difficult to train and often overlooked.
4. Cable Lateral Raise
- Begin the exercise by standing in-between the two sides of a cable crossover machine
- Attach a grip handle to the lowest point of the cable pulley system on each side of the cable crossover machine
- Crossing your arms over one another, grab each handle with an underhand grip and step back into a position that triggers tension from both sides of the cable crossover machine
- Extend your arms to your sides until your elbows have locked out at shoulder height
- Pause for 1-2 seconds and engage your core and shoulder muscles
- Slowly return to the starting position to complete a rep
As one of the signature exercises that give the cable crossover machine its name, this exercise allows you to engage both shoulders simultaneously.
Although it may be difficult to have both sides of a cable crossover machine to yourself in a commercial gym, this is the perfect exercise to build shoulder symmetry while keeping your weights, reps, and sets even for both shoulders.
5. Cable Face Pull
- Begin the exercise by standing straight with your feet hip-width apart and facing the weights of the cable crossover machine
- Attach a two-sided rope at the top of the cable pulley at about chest height
- Grab each side of the rope with a natural grip at face height while allowing your shoulders to bend slightly
- Pull the rope toward your face and contract your rear delts while pulling both sides of the rope apart.
- Pull the rope as far back as possible while contracting your rear delts with the connecting joint coming close to touching your face.
- Slowly return the rope to a position where your arms are fully locked out, and the tension of the cable slightly decreases to complete a rep.
As a unique combination between a compound and isolation exercise, face pulls are fantastic for building your rear delts while engaging your back muscles to provide holistic strength training for your shoulders and sculpting your upper body.
6. Cable Bent Over Reverse Fly
- Begin the exercise by standing shoulder-width apart between the two sides of a cable crossover machine
- Hinge forward from your hips and bend over until your upper body is parallel to the floor with your knees slightly bent
- Make sure not to bend your lower back; grab each handle from the bottom pulleys of the cable crossover machine. Allow your right hand to hold the left handle and your left hand to grab the right handle so that they cross over in front of you.
- Engage your core and lift your arms until they lock at shoulder height, forming a T-shape
- Pull your shoulders back and engage your delts for 1-2 seconds before returning to the starting position to complete a rep.
While this exercise is typically done with free weights such as dumbbells, using a cable crossover machine is a far better way of keeping your rear delts engaged throughout the workout and subject to controlled, more sweeping motions.
Furthermore, provided you engage your core and do not round your back during the exercise, cable crossover machines will put less strain on your back than free weights.
7. Cable Reverse Fly
- Begin the exercise by standing shoulder-width apart between the two sides of a cable crossover machine
- Grab each handle from the bottom pulleys of the cable crossover machine. Allow your right hand to grab the left handle and your left hand to grab the right handle so that they cross over in front of you.
- Engage your core and open your arms until they lock, forming a T-shape
- Pull your shoulders back and engage your delts for 1-2 seconds before returning to the starting position to complete a rep
Like the bent-over variety mentioned in exercise six above, the cable reverse fly is a fantastic method of building your rear delts while avoiding unnecessary strain on your back.
Consequently, this is the perfect exercise if you are recovering from a back injury or a series of back exercises such as deadlifts.
Here are our top three cable machines to use below.
8. Cable Upright Row
- Begin the exercise by standing hip-width apart and facing the weights of the cable crossover machine
- Attach a long straight bar to the bottom pulley system of the cable crossover machine
- Pull the bar upwards until it reaches your chest.
- Pause for a few seconds while engaging your core and shoulders before slowly returning the weight to the starting position to complete a rep
While this exercise is ideal for targeting lateral delts and surrounding muscle groups, only intermediate athletes should attempt this.
It can be an uncomfortable movement to perform, which may lead to injury if done incorrectly.
9. Cable Cuban Press
- Begin the exercise by attaching a straight revolving bar to a low pulley on the cable system
- Grip the cable in front of your thighs using an overhand grip slightly wider than shoulder-width
- Engage your core; bend your arms and upright row the bar to your chest
- Rotate your arms out while raising the bar to your forehead
- Press the handle up and overhead until your arms lock
Pause for 1-2 seconds and engage your shoulder muscles before slowly returning the bar to the starting position to complete a rep.
The Cuban press is popular; it is a complex shoulder exercise that works all three delts simultaneously.
The Cuban press is an ideal exercise to end a shoulder workout or when you are short on time.
10. Cable Supine Reverse Fly
- Begin the exercise by attaching pulley handles at the highest point of each side of the cable crossover machine
- Hold the left cable with your right hand and the right cable with your left hand, so the cables are crossing each other.
- Lie down on a bench in between the two sides of the cable crossover machine while keeping your shoulders aligned with the handles
- Pull both handles down and toward your sides until your arms are fully extended and level with your head.
- Slowly return to the starting position to complete a rep.
While this exercise may seem unorthodox and challenging, it’s simple to perform, as lying on your back provides ample support, allowing you to focus on engaging your posterior delt.
11. Rotator Cuff Rotation
- Begin the exercise by adjusting the cable and its handle to elbow height
- Stand upright hip-width apart with your left side facing the weight of the cable crossover machine
- Grab the handle with your opposite arm and bend your able at a 90-degree angle while keeping your arm tucked into your right side
- Pull the cable across your body to fully rotate your shoulder
- Pause for 1-2 seconds and engage your shoulder muscles
- Return to the starting position to complete a rep
- Alternative arms per set
Although this exercise will provide limited muscle growth and strength, it is vitally important in improving the flexibility of your shoulders, specifically your rotator cuffs.
Why You Should Use Machines to Build Your Shoulders? 🙆♂️
Although free weight shoulder exercises are vital in improving flexibility and overall toning, isolation shoulder exercises of the delts allow for targeted muscle growth and strength.
Furthermore, machines provide stability and form assistance to push your shoulder isolation exercises to the limit without worrying about suffering an injury.
Because it can be difficult to visualize how and why you need to target each delt muscle, the following links provide additional information on the anatomy of delts and the importance of individual delt training to avoid injury.
In conclusion, investing in the correct machines is essential for targeted isolation exercises of the delts.
We believe the above machine shoulder exercises with the proper form and variety will produce excellent results!
However, we also recommend other forms of cardiovascular and aerobic exercises to improve shoulder flexibility; therefore, we highly recommend you research shoulder exercises you can do while swimming and rowing.
Last update on 2022-10-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API