Military Press (AKA Overhead Press) Video Guide

Exercise Profile

  • Strength
  • Barbell
  • Compound
  • Push (Bilateral)
  • Intermediate
  • Abs, Traps, Triceps
Shoulders Exercises Diagram Target Muscle Group

Exercise Instructions

  1. Adjust the barbell to just below shoulder height then load the desired weight onto the bar.
  2. Assume a shoulder width stance and place your hands at (or just outside of) shoulder width with a pronated grip on the bar.
  3. Step underneath the bar and unrack it while keeping the spine in a neutral position.
  4. Take two steps back, inhale, brace, tuck the chin, then press the bar to lockout overhead.
  5. Exhale once the bar gets to lockout and reverse the movement slowly while controlling the bar back to your chest.
  6. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Exercise Tips

  1. Reach tall at the top and don’t worry about keeping the shoulders packed down and back.
  2. Allow the elbows to rotate and point outward at the top of the movement but tuck them tight to the ribcage at the bottom.
  3. Fight to control the bar from rolling your wrists into extension and think about “rolling your knuckles toward the ceiling.”
  4. Keep momentum out of the movement and don’t add any additional leg drive by flexing and extending the knees.
  5. Squeeze your glutes and brace your abs as you press. You shouldn’t be leaning back excessively as you press.
  6. Imagine you’re trying to look out a window at the top, your ears should be in line with your biceps.
  7. If your shoulders are bothering you during the movement, consider experimenting with a wider grip or utilizing some of the vertical pressing progressions listed on the site.
  8. You can use a staggered stance to prevent the lower back from arching excessively but if you still can’t control the anterior core then consider using a half kneeling regression shown on the site.

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30 Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Wed, 07/13/2016 - 23:32

For two years now have had a pacemaker / defibulator. So the old school military press could damage it. Si can't I use a military press machine?

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Posted Tue, 05/27/2014 - 08:46

dont seem to be able to get motivated anymore constantly tired workout at home need someone to give me a kick up the arse

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Posted Wed, 05/21/2014 - 14:42

I hurt my rotator cuff about four years ago. I reinjured it doing the military press about two to three years ago. Is there another exercise that I can do that would be safe for me?

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Posted Wed, 03/26/2014 - 17:39

I wonder if I could do this with dumbbells?

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Posted Mon, 02/15/2016 - 04:46

yes you can

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Posted Sat, 05/04/2013 - 11:31

Power clean or military press? Is it ok to mix the two in same work out?

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Posted Tue, 04/02/2013 - 08:26


Is there an alternative to this exercise, like using dumbells for example? I'm female and I've found that the men at gym tend to hog the bar bells.

mnsjason's picture
Posted Thu, 04/04/2013 - 17:07

You can certainly sub dumbbells for the barbell, so no worries. Simply perform the same movement, and you should be just fine.

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Posted Fri, 05/10/2013 - 10:11

you can also do something called the alternate Russian press, two dumb bells, one in each hand, starting position is with both hands up in the air straight above your head, don't lock elbows, lower one down, keep elbow out front with arm about a 30* in front as well, press back up, lower the other side, repeat, you can do this seated, however standing is harder which means, better for you!! good luck

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Posted Mon, 04/01/2013 - 23:04

I've seen tutorials that say to lock out your shoulders and arms at the top of the movement to maximize hypertrophy.

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Posted Fri, 03/29/2013 - 09:14

Do i increase the weight on the military press like I do the squats,and deadlifts?

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Posted Fri, 01/18/2013 - 12:02
dharmendra singh


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Posted Sat, 12/22/2012 - 00:11

This one made me really sore.

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Posted Fri, 12/07/2012 - 05:06

Whats the difference b/w Smith press machine and military press if i go with military press is it ok or i have to do both exercise.

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Posted Sat, 11/03/2012 - 11:13

This workout works like magic. Awesome

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Posted Wed, 10/17/2012 - 13:56
Satya Prakash


This exercise and Smith Machine Shoulder Press look same. Is there any difference. Can I use only one. Which one is better if I use only one?

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Posted Thu, 11/22/2012 - 08:03

Try to avoid the Smith Machine as it forces you into an unnatural movement.

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Posted Thu, 11/22/2012 - 13:18

While getting used to the way the exercise feels seated at the smith machine would be fine but the use of free weight will add an extra element to the work because you have to stabilize the weight. While stabilizing the weight all the muscles stay engaged and it will really rip up your shoulders.

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Posted Wed, 11/28/2012 - 00:38
Satya Prakash

Thank you all for the reply.
Yes, I saw that getting experience in Smith machine is easy and safe as I can use the safety bar there. After Smith machine I use free weight with less weight and do more repetition to pump my shoulder more.

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Posted Wed, 07/24/2013 - 13:05

I think this exercise could might as well be a substitute for the Smith machine exercise.

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Posted Thu, 10/11/2012 - 15:22

Awesome exercise! A must for shoulders!

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Posted Fri, 07/20/2012 - 00:26

Can it be done sitting down?

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Posted Thu, 05/10/2012 - 20:56

Can you use an EZ barbell instead?

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Posted Thu, 05/10/2012 - 17:03

Can you use an EZ barbell for this instead of the Olympic?

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Posted Wed, 07/17/2013 - 17:53

Should be able to, its still a bar and your still pressing upward. The wide grip you have to take shouldnt affect it anyway.

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Posted Mon, 04/30/2012 - 09:51

Even with man flu when shoulders day comes round you gotta smash it. NEXT

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Posted Tue, 04/17/2012 - 06:52

Can dumbells be used in this exercise

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Posted Tue, 03/13/2012 - 14:43
mohit soni

nice one

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Posted Tue, 03/13/2012 - 10:14

rocking exercise....

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Posted Sat, 02/18/2012 - 11:13

This is the KING of shoulder exercises. If you're not mixing this exercises in with your routines you're missing out on mass