Barbell overhead press

Exercise details

  • Target muscle: Anterior Deltoid
  • Synergists: Lateral Deltoid; Clavicular (upper) Pectoralis Major; Triceps Brachii; Upper, Middle, and Lower Trapezii; Serratus Anterior
  • Mechanics: Compound
  • Force: Push

Starting position

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a barbell with a pronated (overhand) grip at upper-chest height.


  1. Exhale as you push the barbell straight upward.
  2. At the top of the movement, shrug your shoulders to raise the barbell even higher.
  3. Inhale as you reverse the motions and lower the barbell to the starting position in a controlled manner.
  4. Repeat.

Comments and tips

  • Do not lock your elbows out.
  • Use a grip that is a little wider than shoulder width.
  • To move your head out of the way of the bar, rock your body slightly forward as the bar ascends and slightly backward as the bar descends.
  • Keep your head facing forward; don’t look up.
  • Keep your elbows a little forward, not directly out to the sides.
  • Keep your wrists directly above your elbows.
  • There’s a strict variation of the barbell overhead press known as the military press in which the feet are kept close, as if at attention.

Barbell overhead press video


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