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Known to be called a shoulder press or strict press or a combination of both, the military press is a movement that has resisted the effects of time.

It was one of the very first exercises introduced to the event of Olympic weightlifting back in the year 1924.

While it has seen a change in how you do a press, (lifting from behind you and your shoulders to lifting in front of you, off the chest) it is still a show of strength and an exercise you, or any athlete, can truly benefit from.

How to do a Military Press

Stand with your feet together, hence the military press name. Heels together like you’re standing to attention.

This will be more difficult than the regular overhead press were feet apart. You will recruit more muscles to perform the military press.

Start with the barbell resting on your upper chest.

From this position, with your hands placed just a bit wider than shoulder-width, press the weight up.

The barbell should come up straight and slightly backward, going over your head. Lock-in your elbows to complete the lift.

Once you have completed the lift, gently bring the barbell back down to the start position.

That completes one rep.

You can do this exercise either seated or standing, the key is to isolate all other muscles from the lift.

This means you press only with your shoulders, contrary to a jerk, where your legs are involved in the lift.

Muscles Worked During a Military Press

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The military press works more muscles than you might think. While the shoulder muscles and arm muscles are obvious, there are some hidden muscles that you work for stabilization that you might not have known about.

Deltoids are the main shoulder muscle you work when doing a military press. The press only works the medial and anterior deltoids (the middle and front).

The back or posterior deltoid works when you pull something towards you, which is not the case in this exercise.

Triceps are worked too, as they are the muscles working to straighten your elbows. These are the muscles under your biceps on the upper part of your arm.

Research done by The Journal of Strength and Conditioning shows that a standing press works the triceps more than doing the exercise in the seated position or with dumbbells.

Your chest is also active during a military press. The chest muscle is divided into two parts.

While the lower part works during a bench press, the upper part, called the clavicular head, can help you raise weights over your head, as you do in a military press.

Core muscles aren’t the obvious muscle group you’d mention when talking about military press muscles worked. However, they are the key muscle group keeping you stable while you press in the standing position.

Your abs will stop you from leaning too far left or right and also stop you leaning too far back while lifting, which can cause damage to your lower spine.

Benefits of the Military Press

It may seem obvious that a military press benefits those who want strong shoulders, but there is more to the exercise than just that.

Hypertrophy & shoulder muscle strength is the main benefit of doing this exercise and that is always beneficial, regardless of what sport you do.

Overhead performance can lead to better shoulder health and the ability to perform better.

Certain skills, sports, techniques, and other sporting movements all require arm movement which starts at the shoulder. Having good shoulder strength will help you master such skill-based movements.

Shoulder health is important. You may think that such an event as the 100m sprint, for example, doesn’t require shoulder strength.

But you would be wrong, as sprinters use their arms to help build momentum and speed when running. Doing a military press can help with injury prevention to the shoulder.

Its application to sports of all sorts is incredible. As I mentioned before, most, if not all sports, involve shoulder movements. Therefore, having strong shoulders can benefit everyone.

Military Press

Who Should do Military Press in Their Workout?

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Any athlete will benefit from doing military press as part of a well-balanced workout.

For strongman competitors or powerlifters, the military press works the muscles you might use in other exercises throughout the competition, even if you don’t strictly press during said competition.

The military press muscles worked will help with Olympic lifters too. Strong shoulders will help you stay balanced when doing the snatch or a jerk.

Plus, the stabilization obtained while doing the military press will also help with all the Olympic lifts, despite the military press not being one of them.

Competitive athletes in all areas of sport can also benefit from having stronger shoulders.

Many skill-based movements require shoulder movement, from running, shooting a basketball, hitting a tennis ball or jumping up to header a ball.

Incorporating the military press into a part of a balanced strength and conditioning program will definitely help you during competitions.

But what if I don’t do any competitive sport and just like to stay in shape? Then the military press is also for you.

By doing the exercise correctly, you can help with posture issues, prevent injury from repetitive movements with low loads and help you with daily movements such as walking or bending over to pick something you dropped.

The Best Bar for the Job

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While they may all seem the same, not all barbells are the same.

They are different in weight, length, diameter and which style of weights they are suitable for.

So, what is the best bar for the job?

How can you be certain you are getting a quality deal? Well, to help you out, here I list two of the best bars for a military press, however, if you can’t get your hands on these, always use Olympic lifting barbells if you can.

The XMark Lumberjack 7’ Olympic Bar

The XMark Lumberjack 7’ Olympic Bar on Amazon is one of the best barbells you will find for the job. It has a balance between flexibility and rigidity that makes it an ideal bar for any form of lifting, including snatches, cleans, deadlifts and squats.

Being a 7-feet long bar and weighing in at 45 pounds, it is the closest to what you might find in your local gym and it is classed as an Olympic bar.

It is a sturdy bar, capable of holding world champion caliber weights without any issue and ideal for military pressing.

It can be bought with a variety of different weight sizes too, starting at 45lbs all the way up to 365lbs. These are all Texas Star weights, with a five-point grip.

They are rubber coated, with recycled rubber, to protect the metal cast weights. They are easy to handle and to place on your bar without any worry.

They are rubber coated, with recycled rubber, to protect the metal cast weights. They are easy to handle and to place on your bar without any worry.

Regardless of which package you choose, just the bar or the heavier combos, you will receive excellent value for money, as you are getting a high-quality bar that will suit all your weightlifting needs.


  • Variety of weights, ideal for any level of lifting.
  • Reasonably priced.
  • Olympic Bar.


  • No collars included.

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The Rogue Bar 2.0

The Rogue Bar 2.0 is a high-quality product, offering you the chance to feel like a professional weightlifter.

The 20KG bar is made from black coated zinc with bright zinc sleeves. It uses self-lubricating bushing made from composite, which is often found in high-tech aerospace equipment and military vehicles.

This is the bar that will change what we know to be a barbell. It is a revolution in sports equipment.

his is the bar that will change what we know to be a barbell. It is a revolution in sports equipment.

The bar is just over 7-feet long with a 28.5MM diameter, which all complies to Olympic standards.

With a lifelong guarantee, this Rogue bar will make you feel like you are lifting the world, no matter how much weight you load it with.


  • Made from ultra-strong material
  • Olympic standards in size, weight, and diameter
  • Reputable brand
  • Feel like a pro


  • Very expensive

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Now you know how to do to a correct military press, how it benefits you and military press muscles worked, you can hit the gym with confidence.

Improve your shoulder strength to improve yourself, be it in day to day life or to have a competitive edge over other athletes in your sport.

Always make sure you lift weights correctly and safely. Don’t push your limits without help and/or supervision, as this could cause serious injuries. Have fun and become better!