Few exercises compare to the military shoulder press when working simultaneously on multiple major muscle groups. This exercise goes by multiple names and has many variations, focusing more on one muscle or a group of specific muscles. Here’s how to do a military shoulder press with perfect form.
Executing a military shoulder press with perfect form is a six-step process involving:
- the correct positioning of your body,
- the ascent where the weight is pushed above your head, and
- the descent where the weight is lowered back to the shoulders.
The military press and its numerous variations have several potential benefits to your overall physique when added to your daily exercise routine.
However, to enjoy all the benefits of this exercise, you must ensure that you execute it with perfect form.
Adopting perfect form will ensure the best possible results while helping to prevent injury.
Also, see Best Compound Shoulder Exercises for Bigger Shoulders and Front Delts Workout for more tips.
See the table below if you are in a hurry to see the equipment we recommend for these workouts.
- 1 How to Do a Standing Military Press With Perfect Form
- 2 Types of Military Shoulder Press
- 3 Muscles Worked During Military Press
- 4 Frequently Asked Questions on Standing Military Press
- 5 Conclusion
How to Do a Standing Military Press With Perfect Form
This exercise has three main steps to execute the military press with perfect form, each made up of a few smaller movements.
Get set up correctly so you can position your body to ensure you do the military press at the highest possible weight.
The ascent is the next step where you push the weight above your head.
Lastly, the descent is where the weight is lowered back to the shoulders, allowing you to prepare for the reps to follow.
The setup involves the following steps:
- Rack the bar and position it at the correct height. The correct height is around the top of your breastbone.
- The next step involves gripping the bar, and you should adopt a grip around shoulder-width apart with your palms facing away from you. The bar should be held low in your hands, and your wrists should be sufficiently bent for the bar to sit at the base of your palm.
- Positioning the bar comes next. Keep your elbows close to your body while ensuring they remain just before the bar. Let the bar rest on top of your shoulders and your upper chest. A slight backward lean should be adopted, but do not arch your back too much.
- The next step is to unpack the bar. To perform this properly, place your feet directly underneath the bar, take a deep breath, raise your chest, push your elbows in front of the bar, and lift the bar off the rack.
- Next, you’ll want to take a single step back with each foot. When stepping back, plant each foot firmly before moving to the next one. The aim is to move sufficiently to allow you to be clear of the rack and no further.
- The last stage of the setup involves correctly positioning your feet. The feet should be just outside shoulder width to ensure you can stably support the weight while pressing the bar upward.
Once setup is complete, you are ready for the ascent step of the military shoulder press:
- Ensure that the bar moves only in a vertical direction and you only extend your upper back slightly. The elbows begin their position just in front of the bar and end directly beneath it, the hips and legs remain motionless, and the head remains in line with the back.
- To begin, take in a deep breath and brace your core. Squeeze your glute muscles, raise your chest upwards, tuck in your elbows, and push the bar towards the ceiling. Ensure that your head remains in line with your back, and push your torso underneath the barbell as soon as it passes your forehead.
You are ready to begin the descent when you lock your elbows above your head.
This is essentially the reverse of the ascent.
Now, lower the bar down towards the chest while you lean your head and upper back slightly backward to let the bar pass in front of your face.
This allows you to lower the bar until it rests on your upper chest and shoulders.
See our top three favorite barbells you can use for your exercises. Also, see our post on How To Barbell Shoulder Press.
Types of Military Shoulder Press
There are several variations of the military shoulder press.
Each of these variations ensures that you can focus on a different part of the muscles involved while ensuring the best possible results for your muscle growth and development.
The standard military press is also known as the overhead and shoulder press.
There is a slight difference between the military press in its original form and the standard shoulder press.
Still, in contemporary society, the terms are generally considered interchangeable.
The seated military press is the same as the standing version.
The only difference is that you perform this exercise sitting on a bench.
The dumbbell military press is also extremely similar to the standing military press.
The difference is that you do it using dumbbells instead of barbells.
The single-arm military press is a far less common variation of the exercise.
Naturally, this version will require a careful technique to ensure no injuries occur.
Here are some great workout benches you can use to do the seated military press. Also, check out our post on How to Do a Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press for more tips.
Muscles Worked During Military Press
The military press is one of few exercises that effectively work for several major muscle groups simultaneously.
Primarily, the military press works on the deltoids, triceps, and upper pectorals.
The shoulders are generally the primary muscle used when performing a military press.
This refers to the deltoids, specifically this muscle’s anterior head. The military press strengthens all of the muscles around the shoulder.
The middle deltoids perform most of the movement while the anterior and posterior deltoids assist and stabilize the shoulder joint.
The triceps will help with the extension of the elbows during any of the pressing movements associated with the military press.
In later stages of the overhead press, the triceps become more involved in the lockout of the elbows.
The upper pectorals play the role of helping the shoulders as well as the triceps to push the weight up and overhead.
This is particularly true during the initial phase of the military press. Remember that the more you lean backward, the more you use your upper pecs.
The scapular stabilizers are also used largely during the military press.
These stabilizing muscles assist in creating the tension required to support the upper pecs, triceps, and deltoids.
If the shoulders are sufficiently stabilized, it will be easier to hold the barbell or dumbbell overhead while minimizing the chances of injury.
The upper body is not the only beneficiary of the military press. You are standing upright with your feet in contact with the ground.
This means that while you are pressing the weight above your head, the muscles around your core, knees, hips, and ankles must all work together to give stability, helping them grow stronger.
So, while the military press involves your deltoids, triceps, upper chest, and traps, it simultaneously involves the abs, biceps, lower back, Serratus anterior, Latissimus dorsi, and glutes.
See our post, The Muscle Groups You Should Pair With Shoulders, for more tips on building shoulder muscles.
Check out our top three recommended adjustable dumbells if you wish to do the variations that use dumbbells.
Frequently Asked Questions on Standing Military Press
What Muscles Are Worked During a Military Shoulder Press?
The military shoulder press works your deltoids, triceps, upper chest, and trapezius muscles. This exercise also works the abdominals, biceps, lower back, Serratus anterior, Latissimus dorsi, and glutes.
What Is the Difference Between the Military Shoulder Press, the Shoulder Press, and the Overhead Press?
These three exercise terms are often used interchangeably in the exercise world. While the exercises in their original form and true sense are somewhat different in form and execution, most people think of them as the same.
Essentially, the original military press involved keeping your feet closer together, causing more imbalance that employed more muscles to keep you completely stable.
What Are the Different Types of Military Press?
Several types of shoulder press exist, including the military shoulder press, seated shoulder press, and dumbbell shoulder press.
I hope you have learned how to do a military shoulder press with perfect form.
While the military shoulder press is an extremely effective exercise that every gym-goer should add to their exercise regimen, you must adopt the correct form.
Adopting the correct form will ensure you gain the best possible results from the exercise while preventing any injuries.
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Last update on 2023-09-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API