Shoulder Press

What is the shoulder press?

The shoulder press is an overhead press during which a barbell is pushed up from the front of the shoulders to above the head until arms are straight.

The shoulder press (also called the overhead press) can be performed as a free weight exercise or by using a shoulder press machine.

Which muscles does the shoulder press use?

The overhead press uses the shoulders (deltoids), upper back (trapezius) and triceps.

By using free weights rather than the machine, you exercise more of the shoulder and upper back area as your fixator muscles have to stabilise the movement.

As a free weight exercise, this press works the entire body, more so than the bench press.

The overhead press also bring legs into play to stabilise the movement along with abs and back – these all work as fixator muscles.

The clean and press

The shoulder press can be used alongside the deadlift in a lift called the ‘clean and press’.

The clean is performed by deadlifting the barbell from the ground, lifting it high using an upright row action, then catching it at your shoulders.

The clean and press has the added motion of pressing the barbell from the shoulders. This is the shoulder press part of the lift.

The clean and press is an excellent all-over body workout, using all the muscles in the body.


clean and jerk press

Benefits of the shoulder press

While the bench press works your front shoulders (anterior delitoids) more than your back shoulders (posterior deltoids), the overhead press or shoulder press works front and back shoulders equally.

Shoulders, traps and triceps become stronger from this exercise to create all round great shoulder, upper arm and back development.

The overhead press is an excellent weight lifting exercise for balancing out the muscle development of the bicep and front shoulder (anterior deltoid) from heavy training on the bench press.

This press is also an excellent exercise to combine with the lat pulldown, which works in a siimlar yet opposite way. The lat pull down causes the exerciser to pull the weight down in front of the chest, instead of pressing it straight up from the shoulder.

These two exercises work perfectly together to develop a great shoulder physique.

Read more about the shoulder press:

Types of shoulder press

Shoulder press technique

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