Military Press (Barbell Shoulder Press)

A classic compound movement that is also the most effective overall shoulder exercise you can do. Primary muscles involved are the deltoids. Secondary muscles used are the triceps, traps, forearms, and a little bit of upper chest.


Shoulder presses should be performed in front of the neck. This is important!Shoulder presses behind the neck put undo stress on the shoulder’s joints, tendons and ligaments.

Your grip on the bar should be determined in the following manner: As you press the bar up, when your upper arms are parallel to the floor your forearms should be perpendicular.

With your grip determined, press the bar up with explosive power. Lower the bar twice as slowly as you raised it.

Max-OT Tip:
To add extra intensity to this movement do not lock your triceps out at the top of the movement. You’re training shoulders and not triceps. Past a certain point most of the muscular load is shifted to the triceps and away from the shoulders. You want to stop your ascent right before this happens. This keeps more overload directed at the shoulders.

Make sure you don’t lean too far back during military presses. This will take overload away from the shoulders and direct it more to the upper chest. You want to keep your back straight. To help keep it straight you can use a seated bench with a back rest or you can use a regular flat bench and have your training partner allow you to use his knee for support.

Shoulder presses can be done seated or standing. If you do the standing don’t waste energy and strength cleaning the bar to your shoulders. Use a squat rack so you can walk under the bar.

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