Muscles Used • Exercise Type • Form Instruction • Tips and Techniques • Recommended Reps • Common Variations • Substitutions • Equipment Needed
|Delts (F)||Delts (S)|
See all the exercises at the:
Weight Training Exercises Database
– Military Shoulder Press –
AKA: Overhead Press, Shoulder Press, Deltoid Press
Compound Exercise, Push Movement
Standing, grasp barbell with an overhand grip that is slightly wider than shoulder width. Position the barbell in front of the neck at about shoulder height, press bar overhead until arms are extended then lower back down to starting position.
Tips and Techniques:
Keep chest out and back straight, be careful not to overextend the back. Can be done standing or seated. Standing has the advantage of adding in some stabilizer muscles. Standing can also encourage “cheating” by tempting you to involve your lower body in the lift which can turn the exercise into a partial push press. Cheating in this way can be a positive or a negative – a positive only if used sparingly and not just as a bad habit.
This is the “big daddy” exercise of your shoulder workout and is an exercise that can be a staple in all of your routines, whether you are targeting the shoulders or just general muscle mass gain.
Meaningless Side-Note on “shoulder press” terminology… This is an exercise that commonly goes by many names – military shoulder press, military press, shoulder press, overhead press, deltoid press.
Occasionally people ask me what’s the differences between these exercises? There are none. They are all the same thing.
Sometimes I hear people saying the military press is when you are standing, the shoulder press is when you are seated or the military press is when you use a barbell and overhead presses are when you use dumbbells, etc. Huh?
I can tell you if you read much in the weight lifting world, you’ll find that the names above all refer to the same basic motion and the name used is just the author’s preference. I learned it as the military press so I tend to call it the military press. If you want to call it the overhead press, go ahead. It is a very effective exercise by any name.
Recommended Reps For Muscle Building:
6-12 the majority of the time, trying higher or lower reps on occasion.
- Dumbbell Military Shoulder Press
- Behind-The-Neck Military Press – As the name implies, you take the weight down behind the neck as opposed to in front. This is a controversial technique. While some lifters swear to this methods effectiveness in building powerful shoulders, many other lifters have developed severe shoulder problems due to this motion (stopping and reversing the resistance behind the shoulders can cause tremendous strain). Most would be wise to stick to keeping the weight in front. If you do go behind the neck, make sure you are using weights that you can control.
- Push Press – Starting and ending in the same basic position, this variation has you bend at the knees, hips and ankles and then straighten as you drive the weight overhead. You will be able to handle greater weight doing presses in this manner as the drive you get from your lower body will help you move past the weaknesses in your delts and triceps. It can be an effective change of pace and effective at breaking past military press plateaus.
- Machine-Based Military Press – Cable, lever and Smith machines all can give you ways to perform the military shoulder press.
The Military Press is of prime importance to your shoulder workout but if you want something different, check the aforementioned Push Press or a dumbbell exercise like the Arnold Press or just the Dumbbell Military Shoulder Press.
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