Military Press

Muscle groups and purpose of Military Press

Military press, which can also be called Overhead Press, is a classic shoulder exercise that trains all three parts of your shoulders but mainly the front. The exercise is also a good triceps exercise because you straighten the elbow joint. Your abdominal muscles, which stabilize the body, also work mainly when you perform it standing up. The video in this article shows a seated military press, but the exercise is performed even better standing.

Training Details For Military Press

  • Primary Muscle
    Front Delt
  • Secondary Muscle
    Middle Delt, Triceps, Inner Abs
  • Equipment
  • Level


Choose a barbell with the appropriate weight. Remember that the mood of the day and pace are much more important than lifting heavy. Grab the bar a little wider than shoulder-width apart with an overhand grip and tilt your wrists slightly backward. Lift the bar and place it at the top of your chest. Your elbows should lie somewhat broader than your shoulders to angle your arms slightly away from your body. Pull back the shoulders, squeeze the shoulder blades and push out the chest. By tensing your butt, the core is stabilized, and you get a straight back, which we want.

Slowly push the bar up against the ceiling in a completely vertical motion. Do not push the bar forward or backward, but straight up. When the bar is on its way up, you swing the body, mainly the head, slightly backward, but as soon as the bar has passed your nose, the body should be in a complete upright position. Perform the same movement on the way back down. Your body should be straight from the side, with your head slightly in front of your arms in the top position.

Do not forget to hold the bar firmly on the way down.

Do not use your legs to support the bar. Your legs should be straight throughout the exercise and your stance should be slightly wider than your shoulders.

Do not use too much weight. As soon as your body feels that it cannot handle the weight, you will start to lean back or use your legs to push up the bar. You then lose contact with the right muscles, and the exercise becomes not as efficient.

Look straight ahead during the entire exercise, do not follow the bar upwards with your eyes.

This exercise can also be performed in a Smith Machine with a fixed barbell. The machine will help you push the bar up completely vertically.
Some rigid people may feel some discomfort in the shoulders of this exercise. For them, it is important to start stretching their shoulders (see mobility exercises).

The exercise can be done sitting:

Tips for Military Press

  • Grab the bar slightly wider than shoulder width
  • Your elbows should be slightly wider than your shoulders, your arms  should be slightly angled out from your body
  • Your feet should be shoulder-width apart
  • The body weight should be in the middle of your foot
  • Tense your torso and buttocks for stability and a straight back
  • Pull back the shoulders and pull your shoulder blades together, push the chest forward
  • Lift the bar slowly upwards. Lower the weight in a calm and slow manner, always with tension in the muscle you are exercising. 
  • Move your head back when the bar passes and then forward again
  • In the top position, your body should be straight from the side with your head slightly in front of your arms
  • Do not use your legs to support the bar
  • Exhale on the way up and inhale on the way down 
  • If the exercise is done standing up, you will exercise the torso and abdomen more

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