9 Best Smith Machine Chest Exercises: Ultimate List

Are you ready to take your chest gains to the next level and achieve that awe-inspiring, shirt-stretching, superhero-like chest?

If you’re a bodybuilding enthusiast in pursuit of sculpting thick, bulging pecs that turn heads at the gym, then the Smith machine might just be your secret weapon.

While some skeptics might question the effectiveness of the Smith machine for chest exercises, rest assured that it’s not just good, it’s downright excellent for chest development.

It offers a unique advantage that allows you to focus solely on targeting your pectoral muscles without the distraction of stabilizing the bar.

This heightened concentration creates a stronger mind-muscle connection, paving the way for impressive gains with each workout. When combined with a well-balanced diet, the results can be nothing short of phenomenal.

But now comes the critical question: which exercises should you incorporate into your ultimate Smith machine chest workouts?

So, get pumped, and let’s dive into the world of the best Smith machine chest exercises!”

Top 9 Smith Machine Chest Exercises

Before you start, check this guide on how to use a Smith machine so that you get the most out of it.

1. Smith Machine Decline Press for Lower Pecs

The first exercise we’ll tackle is the Smith machine decline press, which targets the lower pecs.

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Set up a slight decline on the bench using plates underneath (more comfortable than steep declines).
  2. Position yourself on the bench with the bar right below your nipple level.
  3. As you lower the bar, make sure your elbows are at the right angle, not flaring out to the sides.
  4. Lower the bar to just right below your nipple, avoiding extremely high or low positions.
  5. Aim for a medium grip on the bar for optimal chest engagement.

2. Smith Machine Incline Press for Upper Pecs and Anterior Delts

Next up, let’s take a look at the Smith machine incline press, a fantastic exercise for targeting the upper pecs and anterior delts.

Here’s how to perform it:

  1. Adjust the bench to a slight incline, around 10 degrees.
  2. Keep the bar close to your body throughout the movement to avoid excessive internal rotation in your shoulders.
  3. Lower the bar to a point where your elbows are at a 90-degree angle.
  4. Focus on bringing your elbows down and forward to target the upper pecs effectively.
  5. Be cautious not to overextend and lock out your elbows at the top of the movement to avoid strain on your rotator cuffs.

3. High Incline Smith Machine Press for Upper Chest and Anterior Delts

Now, we have the high-incline press, which provides an excellent combination of benefits for the upper chest and anterior delts.

Follow these steps to perform it:

  1. Adjust the bench to a higher incline, bringing the bar closer to your forehead or even nose level.
  2. Keep the barbell close to your body throughout the exercise to protect your shoulders.
  3. Lower the bar to chin level if you want to emphasize the upper chest, or higher up to focus on the anterior delts.
  4. Avoid going all the way down to prevent excessive stress on your shoulders.

4. Close Grip Smith Machine Bench Press

Close Grip Bench Press is an exercise that primarily targets the triceps, but also engages the chest and shoulders to some extent.

This is one of the advanced Smith machine chest exercises, It is not recommended for beginners.

Here’s how to perform the Close Grip Smith Machine Press:

  1. Place a flat bench in the middle of the Smith machine and make sure it’s centered. The barbell should be at a height that allows you to reach it comfortably while lying on the bench.
  2. Grip the bar with a close grip, with your hands positioned slightly narrower than shoulder-width apart. Make sure your hands are evenly spaced on the bar.
  3. Lie flat on the bench with your feet firmly planted on the ground. Keep your back slightly arched and your chest out to maintain a stable position.
  4. Slowly lower the barbell towards your chest while keeping your elbows tucked in close to your sides. Aim to bring the bar just above your chest or until you feel a good stretch in your triceps. Avoid letting the bar touch your chest.
  5. Push the barbell back up to the starting position, fully extending your arms. As you push, focus on squeezing your triceps at the top of the movement.
  6. Perform the desired number of repetitions, ensuring that you maintain proper form throughout the exercise.

5. Smith machine Landmine Press

The Smith machine Landmine Press is a variation of the Landmine Press exercise, but instead of using a barbell inserted into a landmine attachment, it utilizes the Smith machine. 

The Landmine Press is an effective compound exercise that targets the shoulders, chest, and triceps while also engaging the core for stability.

Here’s how to perform the Smith machine Landmine Press:

  1. Place one end of the barbell into the sleeve. The other end of the barbell should be free to move.
  2. Load the appropriate weight plates onto the end of the barbell. Make sure the total weight is suitable for your strength and fitness level.
  3. Stand facing the machine with the loaded end of the barbell. Position your feet shoulder-width apart and slightly bend your knees for stability.
  4. Reach down and grip the free end of the barbell with an overhand grip (palms facing down) using one hand. Your hand placement should be close to your chest.
  5. Bring the barbell up to your chest level, keeping your elbow bent at approximately 90 degrees. This is your starting position.
  6. Push the barbell away from your chest in a straight line, extending your arm fully while keeping control of the movement. Focus on using your shoulder and chest muscles to press the weight.
  7. Slowly lower the barbell back to the starting position, maintaining control throughout the descent.
  8. Perform the desired number of repetitions with one hand before switching to the other hand.

6. Smith machine Reverse Grip Press

The Reverse Grip Press is an exercise that helps you improve your strength in the bench press while putting less stress on your body, making it safer.

It targets your chest muscles, especially the upper and lower pecs.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Set up: Adjust the Smith machine bar to a comfortable height, typically around chest level when you’re lying down. Make sure the safety catches are in place.
  2. Lie down: Lie flat on the bench with your back pressed against it. Your feet should be firmly planted on the ground for stability.
  3. Grip: Grab the bar with a reverse grip, which means your palms are facing upward toward your face. Hands should be slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  4. Lower the bar: Slowly lower the bar down towards your chest in a controlled manner. Keep your elbows at a 45-degree angle to your body.
  5. Press up: Push the bar back up to the starting position by extending your arms. Keep your movements smooth and controlled throughout the exercise.
  6. Repetitions: Aim to do 8 to 12 repetitions for muscle growth. If you want to focus on building strength, you can increase the weight and do 3 to 5 reps with the help of the safety catches for added safety.

Breathe: Remember to breathe properly during the exercise. Inhale as you lower the bar and exhale as you push it back up.

By using the reverse grip, you engage the upper pecs more, and the decline angle of the bench targets the lower pecs, making it a combination of the incline and decline bench press.

This exercise can help you increase your one-rep max on the bench press and challenge your muscles in a different way.

7. Smith machine Push-Up

The Smith machine push-up is a variation of the regular push-up exercise. In this exercise, the height of the bar can be adjusted to change the difficulty level.

How to perform the Smith machine push-up:

  1. Begin by adjusting the bar’s height based on the prescribed level for your workout. Raising the bar makes the push-up easier while lowering it increases the challenge.
  2. Stand facing the Smith machine and place your pinkies on the bar at a comfortable width apart. Your grip might be wider or narrower depending on your height.
  3. Step back with your feet until your body forms a straight line from your head to your heels, assuming the starting position similar to a regular push-up.
  4. Engage your glutes (buttocks muscles) to stabilize your body and maintain a straight line throughout the exercise.
  5. Lower your chest towards the bar by bending your elbows. Keep your elbows angled slightly back, not directly out to the sides.
  6. Inhale as you descend towards the bar.
  7. Push back up to the starting position by straightening your elbows. Exhale as you push up.

You can alter the exercise’s difficulty to match your current level of strength by varying the height of the bar.

Lower bars make the push-up more difficult since they require deeper movements, while higher bars make the push-up easier because you don’t have to go as low.

8. Smith Machine Guillotine Press

The Guillotine Press is a pressing variation that works the upper portion of the chest and front delts.

Do it on the Smith Machine to ensure safety since the barbell comes down to the throat instead of the sternum.

Here’s how to do the Smith Machine Guillotine Press:

  1. Lie down on the bench under the Smith Machine bar and position the bar to align with your throat.
  2. Grip the bar wider than shoulder-width, lower it slowly to the middle of your throat, and push it back up while keeping tension on your chest.
  3. You can let your elbows flare out a bit. It’s important to control the movement and feel the stretch in your chest.
  4. The recommended sets and reps are three to four sets of 12 to 15 reps to effectively target the upper chest.

Using the Smith Machine for this chest workout allows you to maintain constant tension on your chest and safely adjust the bar if needed.

9. Smith Machine Hex Press: Build Your Inner Chest

This hex press variation is a chest exercise that involves using a Smith machine with a V-bar handle attachment.

It is a variation of the dumbbell hex press and the plate squeeze press, but in this case, the V-bar handle is used to perform the movement.

How to perform the Smith machine hex press:

  1. Set up a Smith machine with stops on the tracks to ensure safety during the exercise.
  2. Load the desired weight onto the bar of the Smith machine.
  3. Set the stops to a low position.
  4. Lie down on the floor underneath the bar. Your body should be parallel to the floor.
  5. Wrap the V-bar handle attachment around the bar.
  6. Grasp the V-bar handle with both hands and position your hands in a hexagonal shape (like the letter “V”).
  7. Start the exercise by pushing the bar upward, extending your arms fully while keeping the V-bar handle pressed together.
  8. Squeeze your chest muscles at the top of the movement before slowly lowering the bar back down to the starting position.
  9. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Important Tips:

  • Ensure that you set the stops on the Smith machine correctly to prevent the bar from falling too low and risking injury.
  • Always maintain control of the weight throughout the exercise.
  • Perform the exercise at the end of your chest workout, as it also engages the triceps significantly.

Important Tips for Smith Machine Chest Exercises

Here are some essential tips to keep in mind while using the Smith machine for your chest workout:

  • Find the right angle: Adjust the bench and the bar to the right angles that suit your body mechanics. Everyone is different, so find what works best for you.
  • Maintain proper elbow position: Keep your elbows in the correct path throughout the exercises to avoid unnecessary strain on your shoulders.
  • Avoid extreme ranges of motion: For most individuals, going too deep or too shallow can lead to discomfort or potential injuries. Stick to a controlled range of motion.
  • Listen to your body: Pay attention to how your body feels during and after the workout. If something doesn’t feel right or causes pain, make adjustments accordingly.
  • Combine these exercises with a cable machine chest workout for more chest isolation

There are more other Smith machine tips that I didn’t mention here.

Top Smith Machine Chest Workout Routines to Choose From:

Here are some other chest workout routines using the Smith machine that target different aspects of chest development (You can mix them with the Smith machine arm workout):

Workout 1: Chest Definition and Endurance

This routine can also be effective for achieving chest definition and endurance. it incorporates supersets and higher reps to challenge your muscles and build endurance.

Superset 1:

Smith machine bench press: 3 x 12 reps
Machine chest fly: 3 x 12 reps

Superset 2:

Decline Smith machine press: 3 x 15 reps
Push-ups: 3 x 20 reps

Workout 2: Chest and Triceps Emphasis

This routine focuses on targeting both the chest and triceps, making it an effective full upper body workout with an emphasis on these muscle groups.

Smith machine close-grip bench press: 4 x 8 reps

Smith machine wide-grip bench press: 4 x 8 reps

Incline Smith machine press: 3 x 10 reps

Triceps dips (using dip bars or assisted machine): 3 x 12 reps

Workout 3: Time Under Tension (TUT)

Time Under Tension (TUT) training can be beneficial for muscle hypertrophy and strength gains. This routine emphasizes controlled movements and longer time spent during each repetition.

Slow eccentric bench press: 4 x 8 reps (4 seconds down, explosive up)

Smith machine isometric holds: 3 x 6 reps (hold the bar halfway down for 10 seconds each rep)

Incline Smith machine press with pauses: 4 x 8 reps (2 seconds pause at the bottom)

Workout 4: Chest and Shoulders

This routine combines chest and shoulder exercises to provide a well-rounded upper body workout.

Smith machine bench press: 4 x 8 reps

Smith machine overhead press: 4 x 8 reps

Incline Smith machine press: 3 x 10 reps

Dumbbell lateral raises: 3 x 12 reps

Workout 5: Hypertrophy and Pump

This routine is designed to create maximum muscle hypertrophy and a satisfying pump in the chest muscles.

Smith machine incline bench press: 4 x 10 reps

Smith machine decline bench press: 4 x 12 reps

Machine chest flyes: 3 x 15 reps

Cable crossovers: 3 x 15 reps

Workout 6: Time-Efficient Chest Circuit

For those short on time, this circuit-style workout is efficient yet effective at targeting the chest muscles and increasing heart rate for added calorie burn.

Perform each exercise back-to-back with minimal rest between exercises. Rest for 1-2 minutes after completing the circuit. Repeat the circuit for a total of 3 rounds.

Smith machine flat bench press: 10 reps

Push-ups (can be performed on the with an adjustable bar height): 15 reps

Machine incline bench press: 10 reps

Dips (using dip bars or assisted machine): 15 reps

Workout 7: Strength and Explosiveness

This routine aims to enhance chest strength and explosive power, making it suitable for athletes and those looking to improve overall upper body strength.

Smith machine close-grip bench press: 5 x 5 reps (heavier weight for strength)

Plyometric push-ups: 4 x 6 reps (explode off the bar and catch yourself on the way down)

Smith machine Hex press: 4 x 10 reps

Floor press: 3 x 8 reps (focus on explosiveness)


By incorporating these Smith machine chest exercises into your routine and following the proper form, you can make the most out of this versatile machine.

Remember, the key is to find the right angles, maintain proper elbow positions, and avoid extremes in your range of motion. So, give it a try and enjoy the benefits of a well-developed chest!

Resources & References:

  1. https://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/smith-machine-bench-press
  2. https://bodybuilding-wizard.com/smith-machine-hex-press-exercise/
  3. Welsch EA, Bird M, Mayhew JL. Electromyographic activity of the pectoralis major and anterior deltoid muscles during three upper-body lifts. J Strength Cond Res. 2005 May;19(2):449-52. doi: 10.1519/14513.1. PMID: 15903389.
  4. Ben, A. (2004). Muscle building exercises and strength gain. Cairo: Dar Al-Farouq, Cairo, Egypt.
  5. Schwanbeck, S. (2008). The Effects of Training with Free Weights or Machines on Muscle Mass, Strength, and Testosterone and Cortisol Levels. Unpublished master’s thesis, College of Kinesiology, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon.
Hassane Sghir
Follow Us

Leave a Comment