How to Master the Military Press

Military press is not a classic exercise like squats or dead lifts, but adding it to your routine will make your workout different and more challenging.
How to Master the Military Press

Last update: 20 October, 2018

This exercise is a favorite among those who want to work on their chest, shoulders and arms to make them bigger and more toned. Since military press also works your legs and core, it’s considered a very complete exercise that you should definitely add to your workout routine. Keep reading to learn more about it!

What is a military press and what muscles does it work?

The military press is one of the best gym exercises to gain strength and muscle mass in the upper body. However, it’s considered a compound exercise in which other areas of the body are involved: legs and core work in an isometric way. And of course, arms and shoulders are the ones lifting all the weight over your head.

These are movements that will result in strong shoulders and better performance in your workouts. Take for example the bench military press.

Military press exercises

The main muscles involved in this exercise are in the upper body: shoulders (which do most of the work), the deltoid musclesthe trapezoid and the serratus anterior muscles. The triceps and pectoralis major will also take part in this movement.

Common mistakes and tips for doing a military press

It’s essential that you pay attention to what your body tells you when you’re doing any type of exercise, including the military press. If you have an aching muscle that is not involved in the movement, you’re probably doing something wrong. Watch yourself in front of a mirror, as your trainer helps you with your technique.

It’s important that you keep your head and back straight throughout the entire movement. Look ahead of you and focus on one point so that you don’t move your neck or hurt it.

Be careful with the amount of weight that you’re lifting. It’s a very common mistake to use more weight than you can carry, which results in muscle pain or injury. Start with a small weight and remember that you’re ‘competing’ against yourself and not against your gym mates.

The correct technique for doing a military press

The first step is to stand up straight, with your legs slightly apart. Don’t do it while sitting down because your lower back won’t withstand the pressure and you won’t work the muscles that you should.

Some people choose to do a military press in the squat rack, where there’s a barbell in the upper part. You may choose to do it like this, as long as you adjust the barbell to the height of your shoulders, so that you’re able to complete the exercise correctly.

Choosing how much weight to lift

You should use the other barbell exercises that you do, as a guide. Don’t try to ‘show off’ at the gym; you’ll have plenty of time to do that in the future! For the moment, focus on your technique and if you have to start with no weights at all (using only the barbell), it’ll only be for a few days. Then, you can gradually increase the weight. That’s the best way to get amazing results!

In order to lift the bar, your grip must start from the shoulders or a little wider than that. Your fists should face forward.

Lifting the barbell

Now it’s time to lift the barbell: do it with your arms raised and slightly towards the back, but without surpassing the outline of your head. You’ll have to move your chin a little to the back, so that you don’t hit it with the barbell. A small swing motion with your back may be useful for this.

Having your elbows facing forwards will help you to complete the exercise. Try to hold the position for a few seconds before flexing your arms, and slowly coming back to the start.

When you finish your first repetition, the barbell should fall on your shoulders so the arms help you to stabilize your body. By doing this, you’ll avoid getting tired too quickly!

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.