Barbell Military Press

Image of how to do the military press


Type: Strength

Main Muscle Worked: Shoulders

Equipment: Barbell or Dumbbell

Level: Beginner

What is the barbell military press?

The barbell Military Press is a shoulder exercise that focuses primarily on the deltoids, rear deltoids, and triceps. Since it is a compound exercise (meaning it uses multiple muscles), it is a great way to train your upper body. However, it also means the movement is slightly more complicated, making perfect form much more crucial to avoid injury.

Muscles Worked in the barbell military press

Muscles worked in the military press

primary: Medial and Anterior Deltoids
secondary: Upper Traps, and Scapular

Benefits of the barbell military press

Build Upper Body Mass & Strength.

One of the best and most noticeable benefits of the barbell military press you’ll surely see is a bigger and stronger upper body. The barbell military press is the best exercise for pushing the greatest amount of weight overhead by using just the upper body muscles. For progressive overload to occur you must increase stress on the muscles over time to build muscle mass. Which is why the overhead press is the best choice for building muscle because the potential for progressive strength gains is practically unlimited.

Safeguard Your Shoulders.

The barbell military press offers the benefit of improving shoulder health and protection against injuries when done correctly. Firstly, it makes the shoulder muscles stronger in general. Second, and most important, it trains the lateral deltoid, anterior deltoid  and posterior deltoid evenly, which helps maintain proper muscular balance. That being said, the posterior delts still lag behind. So I recommend doing additional shoulder exercises.

Increase Your Lockout Strength.

You Improve your lockout strength by fully extending your elbows on each and every rep. This improves your ability to power through the end of heavy repetitions that would end in an intense, drawn-out struggle to move the bar just two more inches. Lockout strength also transfers to all other exercises that involve an elbow lockout such as the dumbbell bench press.

Increase Your Bench Press.

Military press strength carries over to the barbell bench press and the dumbbell bench press. This is because the military press trains most of the muscles trained when bench pressing, but with a different focus. It focuses on the shoulders and triceps, which are assistance muscles for benching.

How to do the barbell military press

If you need a barbell one can be bought here: Barbells

Military Press

  1. 1. Once you have selected the weights, grab the barbell using a pronated (palms facing forward) grip. Make sure to grip the bar wider than shoulder width apart from each other.
  2. 2. Slightly bend the knees and place the barbell on your collar bone. Lift the barbell up keeping it lying on your chest. Take a step back and position your feet shoulder width apart from each other.
  3. 3. Once you pick up the barbell with the correct grip length, lift the bar up over your head by locking your arms. Hold at about shoulder level and slightly in front of your head. This is your starting position.
  4. 4. Lower the bar down to the collarbone slowly as you inhale.
  5. 5. Lift the bar back up to the starting position as you exhale.

Repeat for desired reps.

Mistakes commonly made in the barbell military press

Arching Back

For extra safety, you should keep your back straight at all times during the military press and do not arch your lower back excessively while raising the barbell overhead. Excessive arching in the lower back can be a clear sign that the weight you are using is too heavy. You should get a lighter weight to practice holding your back in a safe position and build up to the greater weight over time.

Pressing Too Fast

Don’t push up too fast, instead push up slowly and smoothly. You should control the motion of the weights, and do not allow them to stray too far back or forward during the press.

Lowering The Dumbbells Too Far Down

During the military press, lower the dumbbells down only to your shoulders before pressing them back up again. If you lower them more you increase the risk of straining and injuring your shoulders.

Locked Out Elbows

Locking your elbows out when you reach the top of the lift will transfer tension from your deltoids to your triceps, which are not the target of the military press.

Position of The Shoulders

For extra added stability, keep the shoulder blades back and down during the press.

Safety when performing the barbell military press

If you have a shoulder, neck, or back injury, You should talk to your doctor or physical therapist to find out whether this exercise is appropriate. It is possible to injure your shoulders when doing this exercise, especially if you are using heavy weights or bad technique. If you feel any pain during the exercise, slowly lower the weights and end the exercise. Only use a weight you can press with good form for 10 reps.

Variations of the military press

Dumbbell military press

If you need a dumbbell one can be purchased here: Dumbbells
Dumbbell military press

  1. 1. Stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart, your knees slightly bent and keep the back straight.
  2. 2. Hold a dumbbell in each hand at the shoulders with an overhand grip. Thumbs should be on the inside, knuckles facing up and arms bent.
  3. 3. Raise the weights above the head in a controlled motion while exhaling until the weights are overhead and your arms are straight. Pause at the top of the motion.
  4. 4. lower the dumbbells under control back to the starting position next to the shoulders while inhaling.

Repeat for desired reps.

Write below in the comments your opinion on the military press, if it works for you and any questions you might have.

Please follow and like us: