Muscular man lifting barbell on blue bench in gym


Written By Elsie Velazquez Cert. Personal Trainer Prescription Fitness


Before I get into specifics of the military press, let me define it and give a little history as to how it got its name.  A military press is named after the way soldiers raise their rifles over their head as part of their physical training.  It is a variation of the shoulder press but requires using very strict form.

Muscles used:

The military press targets the deltoid muscles in the shoulders as well as the triceps.  Other upper bodies that come into play are the upper pecs, the lateral deltoid, and the middle and lower back. In addition, it works the core and legs, because the lifter both to help stabilize the weight.  In addition, your biceps and trapezius muscles also act as stabilizers.


The military press can be done either by sitting or standing.  It provides a good workout for using in developing the upper body, specifically the shoulder muscles.  Performing the military press while standing uses more supporting muscles than the seated version.  That being said, the seated version would be the way to go if you are a beginner.  The standing version also brings more of your torso muscles into play.  Therefore, the standing version will provide a more complete upper body workout.

Proper Form:

As I stated above, using strict form while performing the military press is crucial.  Proper form will ensure that you get the full benefit of the exercise while helping to avoid injury.  I suggest a light warm up of cardio before getting started.  To perform a standing barbell military press, your feet should be shoulder-width apart.  Hold the bar in front of your upper chest with your elbows pointing down and your palms facing away from your body. Exhale as you press the barbell over your head.  Extend your arms and lift the bar as high as you can, but stop before locking elbows.  Keep your wrists directly above your elbows throughout of the exercise. Inhale as you slowly lower the bar to the starting position. Perform 12 repetitions using a weight that make your final reps challenging.


·         Split Stance

You can change the barbell version’s focus a bit by using a split stance. Slide one leg forward a bit and flex your front knee as you assume the starting position, then perform the exercise as you normally would. By doing this, you will put more focus on the upper pectoral muscles but will take off the lateral deltoids.

·         Cable Machine

Do a standing military press with a cable machine by attaching a bar to a low double pulley cable. Using a split stance, employ the same technique as a standard press. The cable version works the same muscles as the barbell military press.

In summation, the military press is an excellent exercise to incorporate into your shoulder workout!  Have fun!


About the author : jhaase

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