How to do a Smith Machine Bench Press – Benefits, Proper Form, and Tips

  • By: gymtrix
  • Date: January 7, 2023
  • Time to read: 8 min.
How to do a Smith Machine Bench Press - Benefits, Proper Form, and Tips

Smith machines can be beneficial for many different aspects of a strength training program, and those who use them correctly can get results.

In particular, the Smith machine bench press is an effective exercise for targeting the pectoral muscles.

The main advantages of doing a Smith machine bench press include being able to increase load size without needing a spotter and breaking through an exercise plateau.

To do a Smith machine bench press properly, first position yourself on the bench and make sure your feet are firmly planted on the ground.

Next, lower the bar to your chest before pressing it up again. Taking the time to learn how to comfortably use the Smith machine will allow you to safely add this valuable exercise into your strength training routine.

How To Perform Bench Press With A Smith Machine

A Smith Machine bench press differs from traditional ways of bench pressing because it requires more pre-work for setup.

While with traditional bench presses, you can assume that the rack, barbell, and bench are placed at a fixed position before beginning the exercise, however with the Smith Machine, one must take time before lifting to properly adjust their settings.

All variables must be accounted for to ensure an effective and safe lift as well as the best results when only performing this type of press.

Step to Step Guide How To Do A Bench Press With A Smith Machine:

Step 1: Begin by positioning a flat bench into the Smith Machine. This should be placed as close to the middle of the machine as possible, so the barbell is straight above the bench when lowered. 

Step 2: Place your hands on the barbell and carefully unrack it from its stand using a pronated grip (palms facing down). Your hands should be positioned slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and your wrists should remain straight throughout the movement.

Step 3: Take a deep breath and slowly lower the barbell towards your chest while maintaining tension in your arms, shoulders and upper back muscles throughout the motion (do not let your arms relax).

Step 4: When the barbell reaches chest-level, pause for 1 second before pushing it back up with explosive power, extending your elbows and pushing your chest towards the ceiling to complete the rep. 

Step 5: At this point you should be exhaling as you drive through with strength to raise the weight back up to its original starting position, squeezing with force at the top of each rep for maximum benefits and muscle growth. 

Step 6: Maintain control over your breathing throughout each rep; inhale on each descent, pause momentarily at chest level then exhale powerfully as you press up until lockout (barbell held straight above chest in line with shoulders). 

Repeat for desired reps/sets before re-racking by pressing up through elbows and safely guiding/lowering onto rack pins/stands provided in Smith Machine setup.

Maintain core tension throughout this motion to ensure stability during movement transitions between weights being lifted/lowered onto stands, etc.

Smith Machine Bench Press Benefits

The Smith Machine bench press provides more benefits than just a chest workout. You might be able to raise more weight on the bench and in other places using it.

Lift Heavier Weight

The barbell secured to the Smith Machine offers free weight lifters increased safety and improved performance during certain exercises.

It provides stability to the movement required for a properly executed rep, and eliminates the need to balance the bar, enabling users to handle heavier weights.

The Ripped Stack is an ideal supplement to utilize when attempting to build muscle strength in preparation for more challenging workouts, as it helps equip bodybuilders with the necessary resources they require to lift a higher weight limit.

The Center Of Attention Is On The Pecs

The Smith Machine is an effective weight lifting tool for those looking to build up strength and mass in the pectoralis major.

By allowing users to skip out on relying heavily on stabilizing muscles, the Smith Machine can help recruit additional force from the pectoralis major specifically.

This emphasis on the pecs when using the Smith Machine promotes more muscle growth and strength development in that area, lending itself as a great tool for anyone looking to train their upper body.

Spotter Not Needed

If you don’t feel like having a spotter around when you’re lifting weights, no problem – the Smith Machine can offer the security of one without you needing to call in backup.

Its safety pins are designed to securely hold your weight in place so that, if needed, you can safely re-rack it without any help.

While this isn’t intended as a substitute for workout buddies, it’s a great option if you prefer and require more security when benching heavy weights.

Reduce Risk of Injury

Contrary to popular belief, Smith Machines can be beneficial in reducing the risk of injuries.

By providing a smooth and stable movement, users can take control and monitor the amount of weight they are lifting to ensure their safety and reduce any further risk of injury.

Furthermore, Smith Machines are also used to rehabilitate existing injuries due to their unique design as it’s able to minimize any movement that will put a strain on the body or worsen any existing injury.

Muscles Worked Doing A Smith Machine Bench Press

When performing a Smith Machine bench press, the main muscles worked are the pecs, anterior deltoids, and triceps brachii.

However, it should be noted that the stabilizer muscles that are usually engaged in a regular bench press are not used as much while using a Smith Machine; these include the rear delts, rotator cuff muscles, serratus anterior, latissimus dorsi, trapezius (middle and lower traps), biceps brachii and core.

Thus, while opting for the Smith Machine over conventional benching may assist in isolating certain muscle groups easily and quickly when trying to build mass or strength in those specific areas, it is important to bear this fact in mind and supplement one’s routine with exercises that activate the stabilizers of the body.

Smith Machine Bench Press VS Bench Press

The Smith machine bench press and barbell bench press are both excellent exercises for targeting the pecs and improving pushing strength.

Although the standard bench press has its benefits in utilizing more stabilizing muscles and providing a fuller exercise, it cannot match the isolation that the Smith machine can offer when engaging the pecs.

While exercising on the Smith machine you can press heavier weights into larger ranges of motion, meaning you can directly target your pecs more effectively.

Ultimately, both have their place based on individual preferences and training goals; it is up to you to decide which is best for you!

Smith Machine Bench Press Variations

For those looking to add more chest volume to their workouts, the Smith Machine Bench Press Variations can be a great addition.

These exercises are suitable for hypertrophy purposes and have been used by many professional bodybuilders.

You can improve muscle isolation and increase the stability of the lift when using a Smith machine.

Therefore, these variations of bench presses provide many benefits to help progress your workout routine and reach your desired physique.

Smith Machine Incline Bench Press

The Smith Machine Incline Bench Press is a great upper body exercise that building overall chest strength and size.

To do it correctly, adjust the bench to an incline of 30-45 degrees from the floor, then lie back on the bench.

Lift the weight off the rack and lower it to your upper chest under control. Exhale on the ascent phase, squeezing your lats and triceps as you press the bar up to its starting position.

With practice, this will become a powerful staple in your workout routine assisting you with building greater chest muscle definition.

Smith Machine Decline Bench Press

When compared to the standard bench press exercise, the decline bench press presents a unique challenge. While the basic mechanics are the same, muscles are worked differently, and the ideal path of the lift is unique to this form of pressing.

Adjusting an inclined bench, approximately 15-20 degrees, is the recommended set-up for safely performing a decline bench press. Once in position, grab the bar with both hands using an overhand grip that is slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.

Then, unrack the bar and slowly lower it to just below your chest before pressing back up until your arms are fully extended.

Smith Machine Decline Reverse Grip Bench Press

The reverse grip Smith machine press, which can be done on a flat, incline, or decline bench and has different grips of close, standard, and wide, can be a great alternative to the traditional bench press.

By concentrating on this exercise, you can relieve some of the strain on your shoulders while also increasing muscle activation in the upper chest and triceps.

The reverse grip bench press works the triceps more than any other exercise and also works the upper chest muscles very hard. Those looking to mix up their workouts should consider incorporating this movement.

Smith Machine Hex Bench Press

The Smith Machine Hex Bench Press is an incredibly beneficial upper body exercise that can be done with either dumbbells or a Smith Machine.

It is best performed on a vertical track machine to ensure the proper body positioning, which would not be possible using other Olympic benches due to their design.

This press is especially recommended for those with shoulder issues since the neutral grip reduces strain on the joint and evenly distributes the load.

Additionally, it provides additional engagement for your triceps and inner chest as opposed to a traditional bench press since your elbows are tucked against your body throughout the entire movement.

Smith Machine Wide Grip Bench Press

The Smith Machine press with a wide grip is an effective move for targeting your chest muscles. It entails keeping your hands nearly twice the width of your shoulders, with elbows close to 90 degrees, under the bar throughout the motion.

This exercise has the advantage of reducing the strain on the triceps and shoulders, allowing for a more intense focus on the chest muscles.

Keep in mind that the weight shifts can be difficult to handle when performing this variation, so start with a lighter load than usual and work your way up from there.


Is doing the Smith machine chest press really a good idea? How accurate is the Smith machine bench press conversion? In my Smith machine and bench press FAQ, I’ll answer these and other questions.

Is the smith machine bench press a bad machine?

No, the Smith bench press machine isn’t terrible so long as you operate it correctly and make sure the safety latches are engaged.

Is the Smith machine suitable for bench pressing?

There is no doubt that the Smith machine bench press offers a wide variety of wonderful benefits, including improved safety, more muscular stretch, and more rapid growth of the chest.

How much weight does a Smith machine take off?

As a result of the fact that some lifters are more powerful while using free weights, it is difficult to determine a precise Smith machine bench press equivalency.

When I bench press on a Smith machine, I notice that I am approximately 10 kg stronger than when I bench press on free weights. Check out the section above for a detailed comparison of smith machines and free weights.

What’s the Smith machine bench press equivalent in free weights?

For the vast majority of people, I’d guess that the ratio is about 1:1. If you can lift 100 kilograms using the Smith machine, then you can probably lift 100 kilograms with free weights, with a margin of error of approximately 5 percent.

Therefore, there is no need to make use of a complicated Smith machine bench press calculator (if such a thing even exists) or anything similar.

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