Press Exercise

Press is a great exercise to build the shoulders. It also requires the core muscles to contract hard during the Press to keep the upper body stable and to support the lower back.

There is secondary emphasis on the triceps and upper back muscles. The Press builds strength, coordination and balance.

Press Progression & Mobility

  • Take a grip that is slightly wider than shoulder width on a barbell set on a Power Rack. Keep your hands open, elbows high and parallel to the floor. The bar must be sitting on your shoulders, near your throat.
  • Take two steps back. Position your feet shoulder width apart, slightly angled outward. Hands must remain open but lower the position of your elbows for a straighter, cleaner press. Bar should be in line with your hips and heels.
  • Tighten your core and your glutes to stabilise the upper body; move your head away from the line of the press. Take a deep breath then press straight up. As you press, move your head through the “window” or your fully extended arms.
  • At the top position, the bar must be in line with your shoulders, hips and heels.
  • As you bring the bar down to your shoulders, move your head out of the way and keep your elbows slightly elevated. Repeat the exercise until you have completed the targeted number of repetitions.

Faults, Form and Technique

A common fault in the Press is holding on to the bar which pulls your elbows down.

When you press with your elbows pointing down the tendency would be to push the bar forward and up like a curved pattern.

This places more strain on the shoulders because the farther the bar is from the mid- line the heavier it gets.

Arching the back at the start of the Press will force you to exaggerate the distance between the bar and your head as it goes through the “window”. This places more pressure on your lower back.

Variations: Clean and Press, Hang Clean and Press

What muscles does the press work?

The press exercise (aka. Shoulder Press) works the shoulders, primarily the anterior (front) and medial (middle) heads of the shoulder muscles.

Is press a good exercise?

Press is a good exercise for beginners to advanced exercises for overall strength building. And depending on your lifting technique (fast or slow) and weight, it can be good for building muscle too.

How do you press properly?

To press properly, begin with a strong stance with knees slightly bent, then press the barbell vertically until it’s raised overhead. Lower and repeat the movement for your desired number of repetitions.

What can I do instead of a press?

Instead of a press, a couple of alternatives include dumbbell press, hammer strength shoulder press, smith machine shoulder press or a lighter alternative is dumbbell lateral raises.

Does press build muscle?

Press builds muscle if you repeat the exercise regularly and overload the muscles each time by continually increasing the weight on the bar.

Lifting and lowering the barbell slowly increases TUT (Time Under Tension), which can be a useful technique to build the shoulder muscles.

Employ the TUT technique as well as heavy lifting to mix up your routine which also assists with muscle building.

What is press good for?

Press is good for building overall body strength and stability as almost every muscle is engaged during the exercise to enable you to lift the barbell overhead and lower again for each repetition.

How To Do Press (Shoulder Press)