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Daniel Mesa

Build Wide Shoulders With These Shoulder Workout Machines

shoulder workout machines

Creating broad and defined shoulders is a fitness aspiration shared by many. While free weights often take the spotlight, shoulder workout machines can offer unique advantages. In this guide, we’ll delve into effective shoulder workout machine exercises to help you build wide shoulders. You’ll learn how to perform these exercises correctly, understand their benefits, and discover why using machines can be a valuable choice for shoulder development.

Best Shoulder Workout Machine Exercises

Shoulder Press (Plate-Loaded)

How To:

  1. Sit on the machine, maintaining good posture.
  2. Grip the handles with an overhand grip.
  3. Push the weight upwards, extending your arms fully.
  4. Lower the weight back down in a controlled manner.


  • This exercise primarily targets the front and middle deltoid muscles.
  • It allows for precise weight adjustment, catering to your strength level.
  • The machine provides stability, reducing the risk of injury.

Shoulder Press Machine (Pin-Loaded)

How To:

  1. Sit down, adjust the weight, and grasp the handles.
  2. Push the handles upward until your arms are fully extended.
  3. Lower the handles back to the starting position under control.


  • Similar to the plate-loaded version, this exercise targets the front and middle deltoids.
  • Pin-loaded machines offer quick weight changes, making it convenient for drop sets or progressive overload.
  • The guided motion ensures proper form.

Lateral Raise Machine

How To:

  1. Sit on the machine, gripping the handles.
  2. Raise your arms out to the sides until they’re parallel to the ground.
  3. Lower your arms back down slowly.


  • The lateral raise machine effectively isolates the lateral deltoids.
  • It provides constant tension throughout the range of motion, optimizing muscle engagement.
  • It’s a safer alternative to free weight lateral raises.

Rear Delt Fly

How To:

  1. Sit on the machine, placing your chest against the pad.
  2. Grasp the handles with a neutral grip.
  3. Pull the handles backward, squeezing your shoulder blades together.
  4. Slowly return to the starting position.


  • Targets the rear deltoids, essential for balanced shoulder development.
  • Minimizes lower back strain with chest pad support.
  • Offers precise resistance control.

Facepull With Cables

How To:

  1. Attach a rope handle to a high pulley.
  2. Stand facing the cable machine, holding the handles with an overhand grip.
  3. Pull the rope towards your face, spreading it apart at the end of the motion.
  4. Slowly return to the starting position.


  • Targets rear deltoids and upper back muscles.
  • Enhances shoulder stability and posture.
  • Consistent resistance throughout the movement.

Cable Upright Row

How To:

  1. Attach a straight bar to a low pulley.
  2. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and grasp the bar with an overhand grip.
  3. Pull the bar upward, keeping it close to your body.
  4. Lower it back down slowly.


  • Engages front and middle deltoids, trapezius, and lateral shoulder muscles.
  • Provides controlled, smooth motion via cable machine.

Free Weights vs Machines For Delt Growth

Free Weights

Functional Strength

One of the standout benefits of free weights for shoulder growth is functional strength development. When you lift free weights, your muscles have to move the weight and stabilize it throughout the exercise. This dual requirement enhances your overall functional strength, as it mimics real-life situations where you need to carry, lift, or push objects.

By engaging a wide range of muscles for stability, free weight exercises contribute to a more balanced and robust shoulder development that translates into everyday activities.


Free weights offer a treasure trove of exercise options, making them incredibly versatile for shoulder development. You can perform many movements, including overhead presses, lateral raises, front raises, and bent-over lateral raises, to target various aspects of your shoulder muscles. 

This versatility allows you to create a well-rounded shoulder workout routine, ensuring comprehensive growth and preventing muscle imbalances. Whether you’re focusing on strength, hypertrophy, or endurance, free weights provide the flexibility to tailor your workouts to your specific goals.


Another notable advantage of free weights is their portability. Whether you’re at the gym, in your backyard, or traveling, you can easily bring free weights with you.

Dumbbells and kettlebells, for example, are compact and accessible, making them a go-to choice for shoulder workouts in different settings. This portability ensures that you can maintain your shoulder training consistency even when you don’t have access to a fully-equipped gym, helping you stay on track with your fitness goals.

Shoulder Workout Machines


Shoulder workout machines shine in their ability to isolate specific shoulder muscles. These machines target the intended muscle group with minimal involvement of surrounding muscles. 

For instance, a lateral raise machine primarily targets the lateral deltoids without significant assistance from other muscle groups. This isolation is beneficial when you want to focus on developing a particular part of your shoulders or address muscle imbalances, ensuring that your training efforts are precisely directed.

Reduced Injury Risk

Shoulder workout machines provide higher stability and guided motion than free weights. This reduced reliance on stabilizing muscles minimizes the risk of injury, particularly for individuals new to weightlifting or those with pre-existing shoulder issues. 

Machines’ guided path of motion helps maintain proper form, reducing the likelihood of improper movements leading to strain or injury. As a result, shoulder machines can be a valuable tool for beginners and those looking to protect their shoulder health.


Convenience is a hallmark of shoulder workout machines. Many machines incorporate quick weight adjustment systems, allowing you to change resistance levels swiftly without requiring multiple dumbbells or plates. This convenience streamlines your workout, saving time and effort, and encourages a seamless transition between different exercises. 

Additionally, machines often come with clear instructions and visuals, making them user-friendly even for those unfamiliar with weight training. This ease of use enhances the efficiency of your shoulder workouts, ensuring that you can focus on your training goals with minimal hassle.

Shoulder (Delts) Anatomy

Understanding the anatomy of the deltoid muscles, often referred to as the “delts,” is vital for effective shoulder training. These muscles are responsible for the shape and function of your shoulders and can be divided into three key parts:

Front Deltoid

Positioned at the front of your shoulder, the front deltoid primarily handles two important movements. First, it allows you to raise your arm forward in a motion known as shoulder flexion. Second, it plays a role in horizontal adduction, bringing your arm across your chest. Developing the front deltoid contributes significantly to the appearance of shoulder width and strength.

Middle Deltoid

Located in the middle of your shoulder, the middle deltoid is pivotal for shoulder abduction, enabling you to raise your arm to the side. Strengthening the middle deltoid creates the classic “capped” look, giving your shoulders a round and powerful appearance.

Rear Deltoid

Situated at the back of your shoulder, the rear deltoid is responsible for two primary movements. First, it assists in shoulder extension, allowing you to move your arm backward. Second, it contributes to horizontal abduction, which involves moving your arm away from your body to the rear. Developing the rear deltoid is essential for achieving a balanced and well-defined shoulder structure.

Balancing these three deltoid muscle groups is essential for comprehensive shoulder development. Neglecting any of them affecting lead to muscle imbalances, which may affect your posture and overall shoulder strength. Therefore, a well-rounded shoulder workout should target all three areas to ensure you achieve a balanced and aesthetically pleasing shoulder physique.

Final Thoughts

In the quest for broader shoulders, shoulder workout machines offer a valuable path. However, remember that your journey is adaptable. By incorporating these exercises into your routine, you access precise targeting and injury prevention benefits.

Yet, don’t limit yourself to machines alone. Combine them with free weights for a well-rounded approach. Focus on form, weight adjustments, and unwavering commitment to your goals. The result? The wide shoulders you desire are achieved at your own pace.


Can machines alone build broad shoulders?

Machines can be part of a shoulder workout but are often most effective when combined with free weight exercises.

How often should I perform these machine exercises?

1-2 times a week is generally sufficient, depending on your overall training plan.

Are these exercises suitable for beginners?

Yes, many are beginner-friendly. Start with lighter weights and focus on form.

Can I use machines exclusively with previous shoulder injuries?

Machines can be safer, but consult a healthcare professional for personalized guidance.

What’s the best exercise order in a workout?

Begin with compound movements like shoulder presses and finish with isolation exercises like lateral raises.


  1. Functional strength training: Everything you need to know. Retrieved from
  1. Compound Exercises. Retrieved from
  1. Behm, D., & Colado, J. C. (2012). The effectiveness of resistance training using unstable surfaces and devices for rehabilitation. International journal of sports physical therapy, 7(2), 226–241.