Seated Barbell Shoulder Press Video Guide

Exercise Profile

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

Exercise Instructions

  1. Adjust the barbell to just below shoulder height while standing then load the desired weight onto the bar.
  2. Place an adjustable bench beneath the bar in an upright position.
  3. Sit down on the bench and unrack the bar using a pronated grip.
  4. Inhale, brace, tuck the chin, then lower the bar to the top of your chest.
  5. Exhale and press the bar back to lockout.
  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. Brace your abs as you press, you shouldn’t be leaning back excessively.
  5. Imagine you’re trying to look out a window at the top, your ears should be in line with your biceps.
  6. 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.

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21 Comments+ Post Comment

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Posted Mon, 10/20/2014 - 16:53


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Posted Sat, 11/09/2013 - 11:56

What is a good alternative for this exercise? I had rotator cuff surgery a year ago and my Dr. said I should never do these.

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Posted Fri, 05/24/2013 - 01:06

im looking to get mass, not really the " cut " look. but im looking to get mass how can I do that.. do I do more weight less reps or less weight more reps?

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Posted Thu, 03/21/2013 - 17:15

Steve or anyone!

Is there any supplements on chest dips? What can I do instead of that?


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Posted Wed, 03/20/2013 - 04:01

I have to say, as much as I like this exercise, it can easily lead to a shoulder injury if you are pushing those last reps in your last set. Which Is why now I prefer to do Arnold presses because its easier on the joints.

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Posted Wed, 01/02/2013 - 20:31

I have kinda bad shoulders, I've also heard that this exercise can be harmful to your shoulders? I'm wondering if I should stay away from these or not?

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Posted Thu, 01/24/2013 - 21:07

Zach; i heard the same thing. Any alternatives out there?

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Posted Thu, 12/27/2012 - 22:58


Hey man, check the reflection.

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Posted Sat, 12/08/2012 - 11:04

Not sure how you guys can consider yourself expert in weight lifting. The guy in this video has nothing supporting his back.

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Posted Thu, 12/27/2012 - 22:56

In reply to your comment, John, the guy in the video does have something supporting his back. He is against the back support of the bench. Check his reflection in the mirror.

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Posted Sat, 09/22/2012 - 17:29

So why would one do this, as opposed to a military press? It's a bit against my weight lifting religion to do sitting what I can do standing, but if there's a good reason to do this version instead (assuming there are no pathologies that would argue one way or the other), I'd love to hear it.

Steven's picture
Posted Wed, 09/26/2012 - 16:20

There really is no right nor wrong choice. Seated variations provide some extra stability, but it all comes down to personal preference.

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Posted Sun, 12/23/2012 - 22:25

The standing overhead press uses more muscle groups than the seated version. You have to use your abs and legs more to keep your balance, the military version is with your feet together, which makes keeping your balance even harder.

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Posted Wed, 09/10/2014 - 20:28

Not enough height in my basement. Otherwise the military press it is.

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Posted Sun, 09/09/2012 - 15:43

What are floor dumbbell presses?

Joey's picture
Posted Fri, 09/21/2012 - 11:05
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Posted Tue, 08/28/2012 - 23:12

What's the difference between this one and Military Press?

Steven's picture
Posted Thu, 08/30/2012 - 15:25

The standing variation is called a military press.

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Posted Fri, 08/10/2012 - 19:23

Could i use a smith machine for this workout?

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Posted Sat, 05/19/2012 - 10:17
Ricky G.

If im not a be begginer what would be the right amount of reps per set. What will be the adquate weight? I've been working out for 4 years now and I really want to get to that next level. Thanks for your help!

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Posted Wed, 07/11/2012 - 11:54
Sam L.

Best thing to do is just start light, see what you can do and then adjust your workout from there. Keep a journal of your workouts for a while (if not always) so that you can look back and see what you did last time. Take notes when you're working out and write down if it was too light, just right or too heavy. Having a workout partner to spot you and help you through those last few reps that you just can't quite obtain is a great help too. AND DON'T neglect your legs! :-)