Exercise of the Month- Military Press

Primary Movers: Focuses on the Deltoids, Triceps and Abdominals.


  • Stand with feet placed shoulder width apart and the barbell racked level with the collarbone.
  • Place edges of the thumbs at the edge of the rough inner section of the barbell and spread hands out. Ensure they are an even distance with the thumbs wrapped around the barbell.
  • Face the knuckles towards the ceiling maintaining a straight wrist
  • Brace the abdomen, roll the shoulders back and elongate the spine.
  • Press the barbell overhead in a vertical position until the elbows are completely straight.
  • Lower the bar back down in line with the collarbone and repeat.


  • The elbows should be fully extended at the end of the movement.
  • Bend the knees when the weight becomes challenging.
  • Control the speed of the movement when bringing the bar back down towards the upper chest.

To avoid injury:

  • Only load weight onto the bar which is comfortable or is slightly heavier than you have achieved previously.
  • Ensure safety bars are stationed at the appropriate height for protection in case you are unable to rack the weight or need to drop it.
  • Make sure there is somebody to provide assistance in case the weight becomes too challenging to continue.
  • Warm up performing Military Press’s with light weight and increase until you reach the weight you are hoping to achieve. This will warm up the relevant muscles, which is crucial for this exercise.

Why you should include the Military Press in your workout:

Military Press is classed as a staple exercise. This means it is a fundamental part of any resistance based routine. It is a compound exercise which means it works multiple muscles at once.  This reduces the amount of time training as performing a number of exercises to target individual muscles can be time consuming. It is a functional exercise as it mimics movements performed in everyday situations. It is also essential for those who enjoy performing pull-ups regularly, to train the opposite muscle groups (shoulders) in a vertical pushing exercise to ensure muscular balance.

Adaptations when Military Pressing:

  • Number of repetition depending on strength goal:
Goal Repetitions Sets Rest Period
Strength 1-6 5 – 8 2 ½- 5 minutes
Strength and Size 8-12 3 60-90 seconds
Endurance 12 and above 2 – 3 30 seconds


  • Tempo of repetitions:

The speed which you perform you repetitions can also make a difference to the overall outcome. Generally performing repetitions at a slow and controlled pace applies greater force within the muscle which overtime can lead to greater muscular gains.

  • Varying your style of sets:
  • Supersets – performing different variations (dumbbell, barbell, resistance band) of Military Press during rest periods.
  • Pyramid Sets – Increasing or decreasing the weight with each consecutive set, ensuring rest is taken between.
  • Strip Sets – Continually reducing the weight loaded when exhaustion is reached. Unlike Pyramid Sets, there are no rest periods.

Health Benefits of the Military Press:

  • Increases upper body, shoulder and triceps strength.
  • Excellent for increasing lean muscle mass and fat metabolism.
  • Know to be an excellent assistance exercise for an array of sports.
  • Increases functional strength for everyday and sporting movements.

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