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The press, overhead press or shoulder press is a weight training exercise which focuses on the development of the shoulders. The lift is performed standing, by pressing the weight from the anterior deltoids overhead until the arms are extended. The press is primarily intended for the development of the shoulders, secondarily for the triceps and traps. Because the lift is performed standing, it also develops the abdominals, obliques, costal muscles, and back, which all stabilize the spine since the person's center of gravity is elevated and it is more difficult to balance. The press is sometimes analogized as the upper body squat.



The press is set up by taking a barbell and putting it on the anterior deltoids. This can be done by taking the barbell from a rack or by cleaning the weight from the floor (clean and press). Alternatively the movement can be performed with dumbbells, though they do not rest neatly on the deltoids. They do not have easily accessible high racks so the person needs to clean them or have a spotter assist them in getting them into the starting position (or do one-armed presses).

The press involves moving a barbell or dumbbells from the shoulder height and pushing it up above your head until your arms are fully locked out.


Other variations of the overhead press are:

  • Military press: heels together
  • Olympic press: laying back while pressing
  • Push press: using leg drive
  • Behind-the-neck press: barbell in the neck vs. on the anterior deltoids
  • Seated press pressing while seated (commonly on a bench)
  • Dumbbell press: using dumbbells.
    • One-handed press: pressing with one arm at a time
    • Arnold press: beginning a press with forearms supinated, ending with forearms pronated.
  • Sots press: pressing from the bottom of a squat position
  • Bent press: pressing the weight overhead while twisting the trunk. Also called a side press
  • Shank press: using a neutral grip while pressing the barbell overhead on a smith machine while standing with your side to the barbell

Other forms of pressing include:

See also


  • Mark Rippetoe with Lon Kilgore, Starting Strength, The Aasgaard Company Publishers, 2005, ISBN 0-9768-0540-5

External links



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