In our last article about the basics of gym machines we described the chest press machine, the muscles it worked and how to use it. It’s not difficult but getting the technique is always important, even when using machines that are designed to help you as much as possible in that regard.
This article is about the shoulder press machine, a device which looks not unlike the chest press machine (above) but which works a completely different set of muscles. The machines can vary but are all a variation of the one in the picture. The muscles worked when using the shoulder press machine are obviously your shoulders but also to a lesser extent your arms. Using the proper technique will also involve your back and abdominals to a small extent. Rather than pushing the weights forward from your body, the shoulder press exercise involves pushing the weights up from shoulder level.
The first thing to do is get the seating position correct; you should have your back straight against the upright pad and the grips should be a few inches above shoulder level – the elbows should have a 90° angle when you take the weight and start the exercise. You can adjust the seat height to get this right.
Start with a small weight to judge how much you can lift but as with other introductory weight training techniques, you should be achieving 8 – 12 reps before exhaustion. Once you’ve found the correct weight, begin the exercise by slowly lifting the weight until your arms are straight; now slowly lower the weight until you reach the starting position.
That’s all there is to it – it’s important to keep your back straight to avoid injury and also to keep the abdominals involved, improving your core strength while exercising your shoulders.