Upper Body Smith Machine Workout – Garage Strength

Upper Body Smith Machine Workout

Arriving at the gym and every single piece of equipment is in use. The place is packed. Nothing is available and it seems like there is nothing that can be done. Low and behold, sitting in the corner is the Smith Machine. 

Through the brain thoughts of not wanting to use the Smith Machine materialize. The Smith Machine is where all the losers go. That’s where lifters who can’t do normal free weights go. It’s the last resort when someone can’t bench, can’t use dumbbells, can’t do squat work, or can’t use any free weights.

But, the Smith Machine invites fun and creativity to take place. Messing around with this device creates an avenue for ingenuity to shine. Through that ingenuity, a monster pump can be achieved using the Smith Machine.

5. Seated Military Press

Playing around on the Smith Machine, the seated military press set-up inside the Smith Machine takes a little bit of stress off the shoulders. It isn’t as uncomfortable as a normal barbell. On the Smith Machine, athletes can feel more targeting in the front delts and the upper pec. Being on the track of the Smith Machine, the upper pec almost starts to fill up with blood immediately. It feels really nice and helps loosen the upper body up. 

It’s a movement that can be performed for higher reps and not bang the body up. Go ahead and hit five sets of seven to nine with a one drop-set of twenty to twenty-five reps. Super-set the military press with the fourth key exercise.

4. Upright Row

A lot of people have shoulder issues when performing the traditional upright row with a free-standing barbell. But when doing the upright row on the Smith Machine, the body can get a little bit of a lean-back to target more the medial delts. So when super-setting the pull of the upright row, squeezing with the traps, and retracting the scaps, the whole upper back, that yoke, the shelf, really start to fire. Then getting back on the military press, hitting the anterior delt along with the upper pec, there is a huge upper region pump. 

The body feels good. Things are fun. It’s actually easier than free-weights. There is no need to worry about being spotted, are the weights are available, but just banging out some solid reps. Do four to six sets of really high reps to get the pump rolling.

3 & 2. Chest Supported Row & One-Arm Row

This is a nice way to get a huge pump in the back, the upper lats, the rear delts, and makes the athlete feel strong as well.

Typically we don’t recommend pairing two rows together. But this is an exception. We want to start by hitting the chest-supported row for five sets of twenty-five reps. Remember, in a chest-supported position we don’t have to worry as much about the lower back fatiguing. Doing bent-over rows athletes engage their hamstrings and lower back a lot. With the chest-supported position, it is easier to get more traction into the rear delts and the lat muscles.

Now in-between sets, take a little bit of weight off and hit the one-arm row. Putting a knee on the bench to be more upright allows the one-arm row to have three advantages. One, it is barbell loaded so more weight can be used. Two, it is on the track so it is easier to rep it out and get the weight moving. And three, it puts the athlete in a position to where they can really change their chest. Being more upright allows targeting of the traps and rhomboids. Take a minute rest and get back into the chest-supported position with the weight back on.

The chest-supported row potentiates the lats and the rear delts. And when the lats need a little break, get more upright in the one arm upright position and hammer the traps.

Perform five sets of twenty to twenty-five reps of the chest supported row and hammer five sets on each arm for seventeen reps with the one arm row. The pump will be real.

1. Bench Throws To Stop

We like this movement for sports performance with linemen and throwers. The bar being on a track makes it safer than doing this movement with free weights. What we like about this movement on the Smith Machine is that bracing and stopping the barbell feels like a plyometric depth drop. Do this for five or six sets of around ten reps. Also, consider doing the bench throws for five reps, stop the throws, and just focus on a normal bench press reps to get a big pump.

Some people may be saying, “What is the point of actually throwing the bar?” Throwing the bar focuses on full acceleration through the lockout. This will target the triceps more effectively and help the lockout when transferring back over to the bench press.

Not only will this movement work for sports performance and improve an athlete’s benching numbers, but it will also give a stupid pump and be fun.

Another key factor with bench pressing on a Smith Machine is that it really isolates the pecs a lot more than when on a traditional bench press. The entire pec gets a big-time blood flow to leave the upper body feeling nice and strong.


Do all five of these workouts and get an awesome upper body pump. If nothing else, go ahead and take one of these exercises and do it at the gym today. Just one! Do five sets of twenty-plus reps and get a huge pump for that flex in the mirror to really grab the likes on social media. Just be open-minded about the Smith Machine and find out how well serious muscular growth can be stimulated.  


Dane Miller is the owner and founder of Garage Strength Sports Performance. He works with a select handful of clients on building comprehensive programs for fitness and nutrition. Several times a year he leads a workshop for coaches, trainers, and fitness enthusiasts.

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