How to military press correctly. The secret is to use your whole body. Just like in the hollow position, you have to tuck your pelvis forward and squeeze your glutes hard. The harder you can squeeze, the more force you can use from the ground, through your statically flexed quads, through the glutes and up towards the upper body and the bar itself.
When your whole body is rock solid from flexing, no force dissipates and you are instantly stronger, without gaining an ounce of muscle.
This is a video demonstration I shot back in 2008. Observe the technique and pay special attention to the side view. Look at the pelvis and glutes and also the path of the barbell.
Barbell Military Press – pressing a barbell from the standing position above your head. Check out after 0:47 how after the bar passes my head, I shift my torso forward. This is essential so that you can utilize the muscles of your upper back to help with the movement.
Another thing that you mustn’t forget is to always grip super hard, whenever you are doing pressing exercises. This ensures that no force is lost throughout your body when trying to lift the bar.
Note the tucked in pelvis and the torso shifting forward once the bar gets above head level. The key to the exercise is to keep the weight above your center of gravity – the middle of the foot.
Military Press Checklist
- Flex the legs hard. The reason for this is that when the thighs are tight and hard, the force is transferred directly to the ground without loss.
- Press the ground through the heels. The heels are the natural continuation of the lower leg bones.
- Tuck your pelvis in. This means slightly tilting the pelvis towards the front.
- Squeeze the glutes. This makes a huge difference in strength by making all working muscles contract harder.
- Flex your abs like in the hollow position. Simply brace yourself like for a punch and you are good to go.
- Keep your forearms vertical. This tips seems obvious but here goes – direct force transfer when pressing up is achieved best by having the forearms point forward and stay vertical. Otherwise you lose strength.
- Grip super hard. This along with the glute squeeze makes you stronger.
- Press the bar up. Finally time for action.
- Shift your torso forward a bit once the bar passes above your head. The reason for this is that you want the bar to only move vertically, not horizontally. So instead of moving the bar above your head, shift the torso below the bar.
Notice how Steve Reeve’s forearms stay relatively vertical to better transfer force to the barbell. Vertical elbows press directly up without loss of strength.
Initial Milestones for the Military Press
As I mentioned in the Strength and Size Full Body Workout, shooting for 10 reps with 120lbs/55 kg is a good starting point. Once you hit that, you can say you’ve got some good initial strength.
If you are able to military press more than 200lbs/90 kg overhead, you’ve arrived in mad strong land. To keep yourself progressing, I recommend switching between low and high reps when progress stops. Check out this video (click the link and watch video number 2 – scroll down a bit. It explains how to train for size and definition with higher and lower reps.
9 thoughts on “How to Military Press Correctly For Wide Shoulders and a Strong Upperbody”
So when you say 55kg is a good starting point are you including the weight of the bar in that figure?
yes the weight of the bar (20kg) is included.
Sounds like a lot of the wisdom Pavel talks about. I would love to get a big barbell to practise this with to work up to full RoM handstand presses.
Pavel’s advice is spot on. But for full ROM handstands or any other feat, the best thing is to practice the movement itself.
Hi Yavor, I have spent a lot of time on your site now and love the resources. I was having some trouble with the Military Press and your advice helped me! Thanks for the detailed descriptions and the video.
p.s .I am nowhere near mad strong land! But it gives me something to shoot for.
i had a difficult time with the military press when I began training 8 years ago. So I’ve listed most of what I learned here. I still need to update the page though – it’s nearly 2 years old…
p.s. once again – your transformation is fantastic!
What workouts will get me shoulders like dwight Howard
I’ve found my military press has never increased in poundages the way I have done with other exercises. Maybe it’s my technique. Do you suggest flexing the upper back when pressing?
Darren, it’s not technique. It just goes up slow. Flexing the lats will only aid in the first couple fo inches. You need stronger arms and shoulders for the press. Try adding overhead dumbbell triceps extensions. However, flexing the glutes and gripping tightly WIll help.
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