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5 Best Shoulder Press Machines [27 Reviewed]

Hi, I’m Steve Hoyles, and I’d like to welcome you to our guide on the best shoulder press machines.

You need to know two things about me:

  • I’ve been a personal trainer and a gym owner for over two decades.
  • I know a lot about shoulder press machines…a lot.

That sounds cocky, but it’s true.

I’ve used them with my clients, bought them for my gym, and helped friends choose the right ones for their home gyms.

Over the last two weeks, the Strong Home Gym team and I have compared 27 machines in 21 quality aspects.

We chose 5 to recommend for different budgets, needs, and fitness levels.

Let’s dive right in!

Budget Option

Titan Fitness Plate Loaded Deltoid And Shoulder Press Machine

Titan Plate Loaded Shoulder Press

Best Overall

Life Fitness Optima Series Shoulder Press

Life Fitness Optima shoulder press

Premium Option

Cybex Ion Series Multi Press Machine

Cybex Ion Multi-press

5 best shoulder press machines

NameBest in categoryRating (out of 100)PriceDefining feature/characteristic
Life Fitness Optima shoulder pressOverall78$$$Selectorized & affordable
Cybex Ion Multi-pressMoney-no-object66$$$$$High-end materials, can be used as a seated chest press too
Body-Solid Leverage PressValue65$$value for money
Titan Plate Loaded Deltoid and Shoulder PressCheap64$Cheap, separate fly station
Body-Solid Series II Multi-pressBudget multi-press63$$$$Doubles as a flat and incline chest press

1 – Best shoulder press machine overall- Life Fitness Optima shoulder press

Rating: 78 out of 100

Life Fitness Optima Series Shoulder Press

Who it’s for: Anyone looking to reap the full benefits of a selectorized* shoulder press machine without spending a small fortune.

Selectorized* – weight stacks instead of plates, you choose the weight by popping a pin in.


  • Faster weight changes.
  • More convenient (than the plate-loaded units).
  • Cheaper than similar machines.
  • Quality- it’ll last a “life” time at home (excuse the pun).


  • Lower weight capacity.
  • Costs more than a plate-loaded press.


This is the machine I’d get if I were in the market for a shoulder press today.

It’s the one selectorized machine that’s still within a reasonable price range for a home gym.

Value-wise, it’s unique.

You have your plate-loaded units that cost about half.

You have other selectorized machines that cost at least double.

In that solitary gap between the two, you have this machine.

What it means for you

The convenience of choosing weight by popping a pin into a stack opens up a whole range of shoulder workouts.

It means you can reap the full benefits of a shoulder press machine, especially the drop, and supersets.

These are difficult at best on a plate-loaded machine.

And without a second person to load/unload it you can forget it.

And 202 lbs for a shoulder press is more than enough for most people who are focusing on reps.

Bottom line

If you’re investing the space “real estate” into a standalone shoulder press unit, going with a selectorized unit will allow you to get more out of the machine.

This Life Fitness is a way to not break the bank in the process.

Dimensions (LxWxH, inches)61 x 55 x 57
Footprint (square inches)23.28
Weight capacity (lbs)202
Gauge of the mainframe steel11

2 – Money-no-object pick – Cybex Ion multi-press machine

Rating: 66 out of 100

Cybex Ion Series Multi Press Machine

Who it’s for: Anyone looking for the absolute best shoulder machine and has the budget for it.


  • Versatile – can be a bench or shoulder press.
  • The seat and pad adjust simultaneously.
  • Top-tier materials – from the frame to the cables.
  • Clean-cut finishes and attention to detail.


  • Expensive.


This is the kind of shoulder press machine that you’d find in high-end commercial gyms.

It’s our recommendation if money is no object for two reasons:

  • It doubles as a chest press
  • It’s well-rounded and polished.

On the structural side, you have the 11-gauge steel frame, nylon pulleys with sealed ball bearings (within a fiberglass-coated housing), and strand-steel cables with ridiculous tensile strength (2,000 or 4,200 lbs).

On the functionality side, you have the 7-position seat and back adjustments. You pull a pin and choose 1 of 7 presets – from a seated bench press to a full-on upright shoulder press.

On the eye test side, the charcoal-black combo looks stunning.

Bottom line

If you’re OK with spending over 5K on a shoulder press, go with the Cybex Ion and get a chest press, too. Because why not.

You’re getting twice the machine, which softens the blow to the wallet somewhat. Also saves the space that a chest press would take up.

Dimensions (LxWxH, inches)68 x 54 x 62
Footprint (square feet)25.5
Weight capacity (lbs)210 (310 upgraded)
Increments (lbs)7.5
Gauge of the mainframe steel11

3 – Best shoulder press machine for home gyms overall – Body-Solid leverage press

Rating: 65 out of 100

Who it’s for: Anyone looking for a well-rounded shoulder press machine that doesn’t break the bank.


  • Biomechanically accurate lifting paths on both grips.
  • Robust, stable frame with a lifetime warranty.
  • Rated for commercial use.


  • Plate-loaded.
  • The assembly instructions are a mess.


The Body-Solid Leverage Press is the top-rated shoulder press machine because it yields the best value for money.

It hits the nail on the head across all the basics and does it on a budget.

What I mean by “the basics.”

Three things above all else:

  1. The biomechanics of the lifts – force you to lift along a fixed, converging path that gets the angles right. 
  2. Burly, solid build that lives up to the name.
  3. Adjustable at all the right spots – makes #1 possible, whatever your body type and size.

Do things right, and this thing will pump your shoulders into a fiery ball.

The trade-off for the low price

Loading plates is less convenient than popping a pin, and it’s pesky to do drop or super sets on it.

Bottom line

If your budget is around $1K for a shoulder press, this is the machine for you. It’s a no-frills unit with high scores across the board. You’ll feel like you’re getting commercial equipment, without the price tag.

Dimensions (LxWxH, inches)52 x 56 x 70
Footprint (square feet)20.22
Weight capacity (lbs)1000
Gauge of the mainframe steel11

4 – Best cheap shoulder press machine for home gyms – Titan plate-loaded press and fly

Rating: 64 out of 100

Titan Fitness Plate Loaded Deltoid And Shoulder Press Machine

Who it’s for: Anyone looking for a good but cheap shoulder press machine.


  • Separate fly station (great for medial delts).
  • Two pronated-grip handles.
  • Small footprint.
  • Budget-friendly (borderline cheap).


  • No neutral grip.
  • The seat might be too low for some.
  • The arms do not move independently.


The Titan Shoulder Press and Fly is the best cheap shoulder press machine.

For the price, I’d say it over-delivers

And I rarely say stuff like that…

It’s the one machine here that has a separate fly station.

Machine flies are a great finisher.

The kind that gets you to that point where it takes a minute before you can lift your arms again.

And probably better than free weights, too…because your hands are locked in with zero room for cheating.

You’ll probably laugh at the low weights if you’ve never done machine flies. For most people, the frame alone will be heavy enough as a finisher.

And that’s a good thing because it’s proof of isolation.

Anyone can just swing around and do vanity half-reps with the 50s.

That’s why machine flies are so humbling.

The trade-off

One significant corner cut here is the neutral grip.

This means there’s no effective way to emphasize your front delts.

Bottom line

If you’re working with a tight budget and understand the limitations of this Titan, it’s great value for money. Just be aware of what you’re buying before you commit – it’s not the traditional shoulder machine.

Dimensions (LxWxH, inches)39 x 35 x 65
Footprint (square feet)9.48
Weight capacity (lbs)700
Gauge of the mainframe steel11

5 – Best budget multi-press with a shoulder station – S2MP-2 by Body-Solid

Rating: 63 out of 100

Who it’s for: Anyone looking to combine a shoulder press with a versatile chest machine.


  • Versatile beyond the shoulder muscle (flat and incline bench press).
  • Commercial-grade build.
  • Multiple adjustment points.


  • Costs more than your average press machine.
  • Big and heavy.


The Series 2 Multi-Press is the most versatile machine here because it allows for chest presses – from flat to steep incline.

Now, I understand that you didn’t come here looking for something like this.

That’s because few people know these hybrids exist.

You pull the seat along the rail and set it to one of the 4 positions – flat bench press, shoulder press, and two angles for an incline press.

It’s big and heavy because it needs to be, but has no real flaws beyond that.

It all boils down to this question – do you need it?

For 8 out of 10 people, that will be a “no.”

For the other 2, it’s gonna be a please-take-my-money kind of moment…because there’s nothing like it in the price range.

Bottom line

This multi-press is a no-brainer if you like the idea of getting a shoulder press that will also elevate your bench pressing game. Personally, this is the kind of quality, versatility and functionality I’d be looking for in a home gym.

Dimensions (LxWxH, inches)76 x 58 x 61
Footprint (square feet)30.6
Weight capacity (lbs)210 (310 upgraded)
Gauge of the mainframe steel11

Buyer’s guide to choosing a shoulder press machine

In the guide below, I’ll give you a concise overview of the crucial factors to consider when choosing a shoulder press machine.

The goal is to provide you with two things:

  1. Insight into the factors we rate to choose our picks.
  2. Guidance on what to look for if none of our picks fit the bill.

10 primary factors to look for in a shoulder press machine

Buyer’s guide to choosing a shoulder press machine

1 – Type of shoulder press machines – weight plates or stacks

(reflected in a few rated factors)

The choice here will come down to 3 key points:

  1. Budget – selectorized machines cost more.
  2. The weight you need – stacks offer less.
  3. Your routine – drop, super and low-rep sets.

Let’s unpack each.

1. Your budget

With one or two exceptions, you can’t get a selectorized unit for less than $3K.

2. Your shoulder strength

You can pack more weight onto the plate-loaded machines, and less of that weight is “lost.”

There is a difference between how plates feel on a machine, and the resistance is not totally uniform.

But the difference is less significant than on the selectorized machines.

Most of these transfer only half of the weight stack to actual resistance (more on that in a minute).

What it means for you

It means that the stronger among you will max out the stacks.

To be specific:

  • If you lift over 110 lbs on a military press, you’ll have to get the upgraded 310 lbs stack (if you’re going with our pick, the Pro Clubline).
  • If you press over 155 lbs, you’ll have to go with plates.
  1. Your program

Do you do low-rep sets, supersets, and drop sets?

Even if you are freakishly strong and your 1RM* is higher than the listed capacity, you still might get enough weight out of stacks (if you’re not doing low-rep-high-weight stuff).

In other words – weight stacks aren’t for powerlifters.

If you’re doing supersets and drop sets, weight plates can’t match the convenience of popping a pin into the stack.

*1RM –  One Rep Maximum

2 – Size of the machine

(0 to 9 points in our ratings)

With the exception of a few units, the footprint of most shoulder machines is 20+ square feet.

The absolute space is one side of the sizing coin. You can see that compared in the graph below.

The other side is the footprint shape and, more importantly, the space you’ll need to actually use the machine.

More of a factor for the plate-loaded machines

With weight stacks, you hardly need any space beyond the footprint to use the machine.

With weight plates, you’ll need at least 1.8 feet on either side to load/unload.

3 – Biomechanical accuracy for shoulder exercises

(reflected in more than one rating)

Biomechanical accuracy is a fancy way of saying that a machine targets your shoulder well and does it in a way that’s safe for all muscle groups involved.

The few boxes to check here are:

  1. Adjustability of the seat

    It should give you enough range to find a good starting position, execute the move properly and not max out at the top (we’ll unpack that in a second).
  2. Path of the lift on machine shoulder presses – it should feel natural, whether it’s converging or straight.

    The emphasis should stay on your delts throughout the lift, without moving to the chest or back.

Most machines have a converging path, which mimics the dumbbell shoulder press.

Those with straight paths mimic a classic barbell overhead press.

  1. Position, shape, and size of the handles

    In both neutral and pronated grip (arms to the side), a good shoulder press machine will allow you to line up the kinetic chains properly (shoulder-elbow-hands), especially at the starting point.

That statement should be true regardless of your size and body type.

Bottom line –  a good shoulder press machine allows you to get these points right. The best ones help you do it.

4 – Build quality of a good shoulder press machine (robustness and finish)

(reflected in a few rated factors)

Build quality has two aspects – the structural build and the finishes.

The former is the more important for home gyms.

Structural build – gauge and cross-section of the frame

Most of the better shoulder press machines are built using 11-gauge steel (all our top picks).

It’s the cross-section of the frame that separates them.

The cheaper units, like the Titan press, measure 4 square inches across, and the more substantial ones are 6-9 square inches.

How cross-section translates to capacity

As a rule of thumb, you gain about 150 lbs in weight capacity per every square inch of the cross-section.

It’s a non-factor for the weight-stack machines because all the good ones are built on a solid frame.

And the “burden” never goes as high as with the plate-loaded units.

Finish and attention to detail

Expectation management is key here.

Don’t expect commercial-grade finishes in the home-gym price range.

It ain’t happening.

If appearances are important to you, there’s a good chance you won’t like a basic machine like the Titan Press.

Go for something a bit finer, like the Body-Solid units (Body-Solid leverage press and Body-Solid S2MP-2 Pro Clubline).

If you’re after that top-tier feel, only one machine here will be good enough – the Cybex Ion.

The reality is though, in a home gym the level of abuse the machine will experience is really limited, so the finish doesn’t need to be bullet proof.

5 – Padding of the seat, backrest, and shoulder pads

(reflected in a few ratings)

You’ll want high-density foam and good PU leather on the padding.

You’ll also want the padding to be generous enough for comfort without getting in the way or limiting the tactile feedback.

Putting this into numbers is almost impossible because few machines have detailed padding specs.

The important part

Our 5 top picks get this right.

Even the cheapest machine on the list (Titan) has a generous back pad. It measures about 175 square inches in surface and just over 380 cubic inches of high-density foam.

If you’re going outside the list, read the reviews and search specifically for problems with the seat, back pad, or shoulder pads.

6 – Weight capacity of a seated shoulder press machine

(0 to 18 points in our ratings)

For simplicity, I’m including a graph with the theoretical weight capacities of our top-rated machines.

If you know what you’re looking at, that might be enough.

Here’s a touch of theory for reference

An intermediate male lifter will need a capacity of 0.6 to 1 multiple of their body weight.

For advanced lifters, that range is 1-1.25.

Let’s simplify that

If you weigh 100+ pounds and are an intermediate-to-advanced lifter, you might max out a weight-stack machine.

Even the more expensive ones.

The size of the stacks is typically in the 200-300 lbs range with a 2:1 ratio, meaning that you get 100-150 of resistance on a machine shoulder press.

Enough for some, not for all

If you’re an average strong guy doing 8-12 reps, that might be enough.

It might not be if you’re doing one-rep sets.

Weight-capacity comparison of the top shoulder and multi-press machines

7 – Versatility of the machine (for the shoulder muscles and beyond)

(0 to x points in our ratings)

For clarity, I’d split the versatility analysis into two aspects:

  1. Versatility for shoulder exercises
  2. Versatility for other muscle groups

Here’s what I mean…

Versatile for shoulder exercises (beyond the press)

A shoulder press can be made versatile by adding an extra fly station that allows you to isolate the deltoid.

And I mean isolate….because it locks the other parts of the arms in place and “forces” you to lift from the shoulder only.

That’s why most people can/should only do light flies.

If you’ve never done a machine shoulder fly, prepare for a burn unlike any other.

The isolation is hard to emulate with dumbbells because when the going gets tough, you start to shrug and bring in the rhomboids…

…maybe that elbow goes out, and you bring the back in.

It’s how we’re wired.

You can’t do that on a machine.

Versatile beyond the deltoid muscles

What I have in mind here are machines like the Body Solid Multi press that allow you to do flat and incline bench presses. 

Personally, I believe if you can get versatility for your money then you should.

Unilateral movement

Moving the two arms independently is an overrated feature.

You don’t do it with barbells, and you don’t really need it on a machine.

In other words – it’s a nice-to-have, absolutely not a must-have…unless you have a shoulder-joint imbalance that needs correcting.

8 – Load-to-resistance ratio on a machine shoulder press

(0 to 6 points in our ratings)

Most of the better shoulder machines with weight stacks have a 2:1 ratio.

That means you pop a pin into the 150-lb hole and get 75 lbs of resistance.

It’s the physics behind the pulleys.

You can see how it works in the image below.

1-to-1 vs 2-to-1 vs 3-to-1 vs 4-to-1 pulley cable ratio

9 – Warranty on the frame, parts, and upholstery of the shoulder press

(0 to 16 points in our ratings)

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again – the warranty is an overlooked factor.

It should be considered as an indication of quality more than anything else.

The 4 warranty rules of thumb I stick by:
  1. Warranty on the frame is more important than parts, cables, and upholstery.
  2. If you’re paying over 2K for a shoulder press machin, don’t settle for less than a lifetime warranty on the frame.
  3. If you’re paying 1K or more, expect at least a 3-year warranty. 
  4. A 1-year frame warranty is the absolute minimum in any price range. If it’s less than that, don’t buy it.

10 – Price of a shoulder press machine

(0 to 31 points in our ratings)

Expect to pay anywhere from $600 to $6000 for a good shoulder press.

On the low end of that range are basic machines like Titan and TDS built around a 4×4 mainframe.

On the high, you have your Cybex Ions and Hammer Strengths.

The sweet spot for most home gyms

For most people, 5 or 6K won’t make sense, either in terms of money or space.

The sweet spot is the 1-2K.

In that range, you can get a top-tier plate loaded or a decent selectorized unit.

Below is a reference graph comparing the prices of the top 5 shoulder press machines.

Price comparison of the 5 top-rated shoulder press machines

Best shoulder press machine – resume and key takeaways

The elbow grease our whole team put into this guide was worth it.

I’m confident that we filled a significant information gap and pinpointed a few clear winners.

Overall, budget, and selectorized picks

The Life Fitness Optima shoulder press machine is the best value for money on the current shoulder-press-machine market.

It ticks all the crucial boxes at a fair price.

Titan Press and Fly is the best shoulder machine for home gym owners working within a tight budget.

It absolutely nails the price-to-quality balance and adds a shoulder fly station into the mix.

If the options still feel foggy, skip back to the top picks table.

Keep pumping that iron…or pulling on those cables, whatever bakes your cake,

StrongHomeGym team

Photo of author
Hi! My name is Steve Hoyles. I’m a personal trainer, gym owner and fitness copywriter. Since graduating with my Sports Science degree in 2004 I’ve worked in the fitness industry, helping thousands of people reach their health and fitness goals. My writing has been read by millions of people in over 200 countries.

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