Performing an overhead press

Performing an overhead press

The overhead press is great for building muscles in your shoulders, chest and arms but it also works the rest of the body.

Sometimes called the shoulder press, if you perform standing variations, you will also train your glutes, quads and hamstrings.

The press helps with training for any sport whereby force has to be transmitted from the ground through your hands.

Because you stand, rather than sitting or learning against any object like a bench press, it helps to develop your core.

How to perform an overhead press

Start with a squat rack and a bar. The bar should be set at the same height as your collarbone. Too high and you'll be on your toes.

Grip the bar with your hands, holding the bar slightly wider than the width of your shoulders. Your elbows should be bent and your hands at shoulder height. Your forearms should form a straight, vertical line.

Place the bar on the heel of your palm. This will help you to push the bar up. 

Stand with your legs shoulder width apart and look straight in front of you, with your chest up and out. Pull in your shoulder blades.

Now, press the bar over your head in a straight line. Without arching your back (use your core!), lean slightly back so you can push the bar past your head. Then get back under the bar again. Don't push the bar in front or behind you. The key to getting the form correct is to keep it in a straight vertical line.

As you perform the lift, keep your core and glutes engaged and your elbows in. 



The Author

Laura Briggs

Laura is a fitness writer who loves running, strength training, Pilates and Yoga. When she's got time to herself you might find her knitting, or in the kitchen trying out an elaborate recipe - healthy of course!.


Sean S.
28 February 2017

Sean S.

I would say the overhead press is an underrated exercise. it also looks pretty impressive!

Jim R.
18 February 2017

Jim R.

neat step by step guide, thank you - form is so important in this kind of thing. Get it wrong, get injured, lose training.

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