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Barbell Press: Technique, Tips, and Benefits

As the name suggests, barbell shoulder presses are a version of dumbbell shoulder pushes performed using a barbell instead of a dumbbell. The barbell press is also known as the military press or overhead press. During the exercise, you will be able to regulate your emotions better and steady them, thanks to this modification.

The barbell press engages multiple muscles in the upper body, specifically the shoulders, chest, triceps, and upper back. When performing standing, it is also necessary to activate the core to maintain balance and stability for the body. Moreover, the effort required to push is sometimes created in the lower body, particularly when working with big weights. 

The barbell shoulder press is widely considered one of the most effective exercises in the Iron Temple for developing strength in this body region. Shoulder presses are compound lifts that require a lot of weight and claim to remodel your upper body by giving you more width and size. Yet, to enjoy all of the advantages of this lift, it is necessary to perform it in the correct form. Below, we have explained how to perform the shoulder press and a few other exercises. 

Barbell press: Technique, tips, and benefits

How to perform a barbell press

Let me take you through how to conduct this exercise step-by-step. Begin with an empty barbell and progressively increase the weight as your strength improves.

  • Maintain your erect stance and grab the barbell with both hands. Raise it till it rests on your collarbones, then keep it there. It is the point from which we will begin. Take a deep inhale.
  • As you breathe out, bring the barbell up and over your head. Put your arms in a straight line and push your shoulder blades together.
  • Slowly return it to where it was before you start lowering it.

It seems and is quite straightforward, and in fact, it is! On the other hand, if you are starting, there is a good probability that you may mess up a few times and risk getting hurt. Shoulder injuries are no joke. When you have problems with your shoulder, your entire upper body is negatively affected.

Benefits of doing the barbell press

Let's have a look at some of the advantages that this easy exercise offers:

Builds strength for everyday activities

The overhead press is a functional exercise, which means that it simulates motions that people perform in their everyday lives, such as placing heavy objects on a shelf. Regularly engaging in this exercise will assist in making motions involving lifting and pushing more simpler.

Improves posture

This exercise focuses on the shoulders and upper back, which allows it to improve posture and develop the muscles in those areas. As a result, it can eliminate several ailments, including back pain.

Builds and sculpts the shoulders

The visual benefits are the most readily apparent reason to carry out this activity. The barbell press is an excellent exercise for shaping your shoulders, traps, and upper back, and it should be included in your workout routine. In addition, it places additional tension on your core, strengthening it while you act.

Even though it is simple, the barbell press is an efficient exercise for developing the upper body. You do not need to be concerned about injuring yourself if the activity is carried out correctly in its form and tempo. Always warm up with light weights and increase to bigger ones when you can handle them comfortably. Include this in your upcoming upper body and push day, and make sure to stretch out thoroughly afterwards. 

How to Do a Barbell Shoulder Press: Proper Form, Variations, and Common Mistakes

How to Do a Barbell Shoulder Press

While using a power rack, position the barbell directly in front of your shoulders. Standing on your toes or bending to an awkwardly low position shouldn't be necessary to remove the bar from the rack.

Maintain a standing position with your feet about the width of a shoulder apart, your hips and knees completely extended, but without locking your knees. The barbell should be held in a front rack position, with the elbows pointed forward and the hands spaced shoulder-width apart. This position allows the barbell to rest on the front of the shoulders. It is the point from which you will begin.

  1. Pull your abdominal muscles toward your spine as you exhale, pinch your shoulder blades together, and press the barbell overhead.
  2. Keep pressing until your arms are completely locked out of position. It would help if you had the sensation of trying to fit your head through the "window" created by your arms when you perform this movement.
  3. Engage the muscles in your back, and as you inhale, return the barbell to the front-rack position as you are doing so with control.
  4. Do additional repetitions following these procedures, or finish the workout by putting the bar back on the power rack. 

Benefits of the Barbell Shoulder Press

This exercise focuses on the deltoids, the trapezius muscles, and the smaller, deeper muscles that contribute to the formation of your shoulders. In addition, you'll be working your triceps, biceps, back, and core muscles, which will help increase your full body strength. 

Because of its straightforward nature, the barbell shoulder press is an effective exercise that individuals of varying degrees of physical ability can perform. In addition, as a result of research, it has been discovered that this particular exercise helps increase trunk and spine movement in female athletes, a unique benefit to this population. 

Your upper body and core will strengthen as you perform the barbell shoulder press, which may improve your posture.

Reducing aches and pains, particularly in the back and neck, is one of the potential benefits of improving one's posture. 

Shoulder presses with a barbell are another form of exercise that has a practical application. For example, they assist in developing the necessary strength to carry out day-to-day actions, such as lifting a larger object overhead to place it on a higher-up shelf. 

Other Variations of a Barbell Shoulder Press

You can adjust the barbell shoulder press so that it is easier or more difficult for you to perform based on your current level of fitness and any restrictions you may have.

Dumbbell Shoulder Press

Those individuals who cannot yet lift the weight of the barbell, typically 45 pounds in most gyms, or who experience pain in their shoulders when pressing upward with a barbell have a terrific choice available to them in the form of using dumbbells instead of a barbell.

Holding the weights at shoulder height with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart is the proper starting position for a dumbbell shoulder press. In pressing barbells overhead, ensure that the back is kept in a neutral position and that the core is engaged. Once the arms have reached their full extension, bring the weights back up to shoulder level. 

Single-Arm Dumbbell Shoulder Press

If working out with two dumbbells is still too difficult for you, or if you have a neck injury or limited spine movement, working out with just one dumbbell is more effective. Go out each step exactly as you would with two sets of dumbbells, except you should only push with one arm at a time. 

Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press

This particular form of shoulder press will put your core stability and spinal mobility to the ultimate test. To perform this exercise correctly, sit on a weight bench and raise a pair of dumbbells to your shoulders. The weights should be pressed until the arms are straight before being returned to the shoulder area. 

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Landmine Press

Those with injuries that prevent them from pressing directly upward can benefit greatly from the landmine press, which is an excellent modification. This variation repositions your body in a new direction, relieving significant pressure from the sensitive structures in your shoulders.

To perform this exercise, your barbell must be angled and stable, with one end resting on the ground. Next, place your feet so that they are shoulder-width apart and stand in front of the opposite end. (You can also practice this variation while kneeling if that's more comfortable.)

You should have two hands on the barbell and keep it hovering in front of your chest. Your palms should be facing upward as you do this. It would help to press the barbell at an angle, not squarely overhead, as most people do. Next, push the barbell up and out. Finally, repeat the last step while lowering the barbell to chest height. 

Push Press

If you want to seriously increase the weight you can lift over your head, you must train your lower body. For example, if you perform the push press by creating momentum with your hips, you can press a significantly greater weight above your head.

In this variation, rather than simply pressing the weight high, the exercise begins with the legs slightly bent, followed by a push through the feet to straighten the legs as you press the weight overhead. Then, after the hips have reached their entire range of motion, you press the bar overhead before returning it to the beginning position. 

Push Jerk

The push jerk is an even more effective method of building strength than the push press. It is a common exercise in CrossFit and Olympic weightlifting programs, and it involves a significant hip extension similar to that of the push press. In addition, it contains a secondary "dip" in which the lifter receives the barbell.

It would help if you were standing with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, the bar directly in front of your shoulders, and your hands slightly broader than your shoulders. To perform a dip, lower yourself by bending your knees slightly. Then, quickly extend your knees and elbows while pressing the bar overhead. Finally, return to the starting position by bending your knees and "grabbing" the bar in its top position.

Then, bring the bar above your head and lock your elbows while straightening your knees to achieve a fully erect standing position. If you want to perform further repetitions, bring the bar back to the front of your shoulders; however, if you want to stop the exercise, place the bar on a rack or bring it down to the floor. 

Clean and Press

Your strength training will be taken to a whole new level if you combine the barbell shoulder press and the power clean, referred to as a clean press. This technique will simultaneously improve your power, speed, and coordination with your body's overall movement. 

Maintain a stance with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and the barbell held directly in front of your shins. Pulling the bar up to your chest as quickly as possible requires you to push your hips back and drive through your heels. Moving into the overhead press position, the next step is to shrug your shoulders, point your elbow forward, and push through your heels again. 

Kettlebell Press

Swap out your barbell for a pair of kettlebells if you want to improve your stability (as well as your vertical leap), as this will allow you to lift more weight. To begin, place two kettlebells in the front rack to rest on your upper arms and forearms with your elbows pointed forward. It is the starting position (not out to the sides).

Take a few deep breaths, tighten your abdominal muscles, and press the kettlebells overhead. Maintain a position where your arms are near your head, as though your biceps gently touch your ear. To begin the next repetition or to bring this exercise to a close, return the bells to the starting position at the front rack. 

How to Do Barbell Shoulder Presses (Form & Benefits)


The shoulder press is a compound exercise that demands a lot of different complicated and moving pieces to be performed correctly. However, this recipe usually has various benefits, and the shoulder press is no exception. 


Shoulder presses will benefit your upper body's looks and upper body's strength if you include them in your workout regimen. It goes without saying.

This exercise is excellent for improving strength because you can lift a significant amount of weight with a barbell. Yet even though the barbell makes it possible to lift more weight, using lighter loads will allow you to focus more on building muscle.

Because of this, the shoulder press is an excellent workout for those training for other sports requiring power and strength.

As an illustration, Olympic weightlifting necessitates a powerful overhead stance to perform snatches and jerks. The overhead press is one of the fundamental movement patterns we utilise in our day-to-day lives, so it's a good exercise even if you need to be specific training for something. In addition, the shoulder press is a great exercise that provides essential and extensive carryover benefits. 


Strengthening the shoulder region is an excellent way to reduce the risk of sustaining an injury to the shoulder joints, which are themselves susceptible to injury. The shoulder joints are responsible for various activities, including managing eccentric movements when lifting and holding things over our heads.

Enhancing the mechanics of any one of these acts contributes to increased injury resilience across the board.

Also, because it helps strengthen the core and other parts of the upper body, the shoulder press is a good exercise for improving posture. Enhancing one's posture is another fantastic strategy to lessen the possibility of experiencing aches and pains in later years. 

How to Perform The Standing Barbell Shoulder Press

Now that we have a better understanding of the characteristics that define a shoulder press as a shoulder press let's look at the requirements needed to complete one.

Before beginning, you should perform certain moves to warm up, and you'll earn extra points if you also stretch your shoulders and arms. Because of this, the appropriate muscles will receive a stronger blood flow, which will pave the way for greater gains and more efficient activity.

You'll need to adjust the rack supports to prepare for the lift so the bar isn't at an awkward height or too low of an angle.

The objective is to raise the bar without getting on your knees or toes. A nice place to rack it is around the upper chest region of your body. 

  1. When you've got the bar where you want it, you'll want to grab it with your hands about as far apart as your shoulders are. It would help if you had an overhand grip, with your hands facing away from you. Regarding the wrists' location, you want to keep a tiny bend in them so that the bar can rest comfortably in your palm, but you don't want them curved back anywhere close to 90 degrees. It is because doing so could cause discomfort. Either place your hands so that they are parallel to your shoulders or slightly outside of that line. Your forearms should be positioned such that they are facing upward in a position that is perpendicular to the ground.
  2. You will want to move on to the next step: position yourself appropriately. When you go backwards with the bar until you've just about cleared the rack, adjust your stance to one that is shoulder-width apart. You want to bring your elbows in toward your torso, and at the same time, you want to push them forward ever-so-slightly. The bar will rest comfortably on your chest and front shoulders.
  3. Bend your upper back just a little, bringing your head back just a little, and let the barbell's weight centre over your midfoot as you do so. When you press the weight up, the bar can clear your chin if you do this first. If, on the other hand, you have a history of back issues, you should look into other positions besides arching your upper back.
  4. When in the appropriate position, you should contact your core muscles and glutes to prepare for the climb. First, raise your chest and take a few deep breaths while keeping your body in the ideal position relative to the bar. Next, put upward pressure on the bar to get it off your chest and shoulders.
  5. As soon as the bar is clear of your head, press your body behind it and raise your arms exactly above your head. It will complete one rep. To get better at the overhead barbell press, you will need to be able to rapidly lock out your elbows over your head after explosively completing the first half of the activity.
  6. You must reverse the movement to return it to its original position. On the other hand, this also requires you to bring your head back to prevent the bar from hitting you as it comes down. Refrain from compensating for this by permitting the bar to come extremely far forward, as doing so will save energy. The more direct you make the course of the bar down during the workout, the more benefit you will derive from it. It should be a couple of inches away from your nose at the furthest point.
  7. Continue until you have completed the required repetitions once you have returned to the starting position.

The Overhead Press

How to perform an overhead press

When you head to the gym, you should familiarise yourself with the purpose of each action and the pattern it follows so that you can perform any exercise that requires weights.

According to Rader, an overhead press is only a movement in which resistance is pushed above the head of the person performing the exercise. It can be accomplished in a variety of ways, including the following:

Both hands at the same time, one hand at a time, a single barbell held by both hands simultaneously, one hand at a time, one free weight held in each hand (a free weight being an object not attached to a piece of equipment).

Grip and hold

Go up to the bar and grab it with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and your palms facing away from your body to do the standing barbell press. Then proceed with the following steps:

  1. Remove the bar from the rack, then take a few steps back. You should be holding the bar in your hands such that it is resting just around your collarbone.
  2. To begin the exercise, pull your head back, brace your core, pinch your butts to activate your glutes, and drive the bar toward the ceiling.
  3. As soon as the bar reaches your forehead, you should bring your head back to the neutral position while simultaneously bringing your arms fully overhead. At the top of the press, check to see that your abdominal and gluteal muscles are still contracted and that your lower back is not arched.
  4. In doing so, lean your head back to make room for the bar as you slowly lower it back to your shoulders.

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Keep your elbows in

You should maintain a position where the elbows are either immediately underneath the wrists or slightly more inward.

This angle will allow for the maximum amount of force to be produced. If the elbows flare out to the side, you lose the leverage you need to push from. If the elbows flare out to the side, you lose. 

Use your abs and glutes too.

It is also recommended that you keep your glutes and abdominal muscles engaged the entire time you are performing the activity.

With this pillar of support, you can go forward with your efforts. If you lose this stability, the bar will wobble, and the weight you can push will decrease. 

Benefits of the overhead press

Using the overhead press as part of your training program can benefit you. Doing overhead presses can lead to an increase in the:

  • The magnitude of the shoulder muscles and their strength
  • The power of the triceps muscles as well as their size
  • The size and strength of the trapezius muscle and the size and strength of the core muscles when completing the exercise while standing, such as your obliques, transverse abdominal muscles, lower back, and spinal stabilisers. The execution of other exercises, such as the bench press

Common mistakes

When performing an exercise like the overhead press, using the correct form to maximise the movement's effectiveness and protect yourself from injury is critical.

Because of these individual differences in bone structure and body shape, the right form may look different on different people.

When executing an overhead press, here are five frequent faults that should be avoided at all costs:

1. Your stance/feet positioning is off.

It is essential to ensure that your stance is broad enough to provide your body with stability while lifting, which means that your feet should be no closer together than hip-width apart.

You should also check that your feet are assisting in anchoring your body and maintaining alignment of your glutes and hips with the rest of your upper body. If your feet are not in a tripod position, it hinders the rest of your body from being stable. This imbalance could cause harm when other body parts are compelled to overcompensate for the instability caused by your feet. 

2. Incorrect arm/shoulder form.

As you lift weights, your elbows should be pointing toward the front of the body, and they should lock at the peak of the press so that you may get the most out of your workout. Shoulder pain is a common complication of flared elbows.

Because your wrists and elbows support the weight and course of the barbell, your triceps should also be aligned with your wrists.

Having enough momentum to lift acceptably or comfortably may not be easy when the wrists and elbows are not properly aligned.

You also want to avoid shrugging your shoulders to safeguard your rotator cuff muscles. 

3. You're pressing the weight in an incorrect path.

A variety of potential problems can arise if the barbell is not raised appropriately. You risk losing your equilibrium if you lift it too far in front of or behind you, which is a highly risky move.

If you lift too far forward, you will also engage a distinct group of muscles known as the anterior deltoids, making it more difficult to increase the weight and leading you to skip reps. Similarly, an improper workout for your posterior deltoids might result from lifting too far in the back.

If you want to be sure that your form is correct, you may either have a coach monitor you from the side or videotape the lift so that you can look back on it afterwards. As you check the lift, you will want to position your body to form a line when viewed from the side. 

4. Your neck and back are not lined up correctly.

When you lift something, you shouldn't have your lower back arched or hyperextended in any way. Your upper back should only have a very slight arch, while your chest should be lifted while maintaining a neutral position in your lower back. Squeezing your glutes helps to prevent your back from rounding.

Your neck may initially have to move to be able to lift the barbell in a vertical direction; nevertheless, when the barbell has been lifted, you should extend it slightly forward to prevent your spine from becoming overly arched. 

5. You're lifting a weight that is too heavy for you.

It would help if you never attempted to lift more weight than your body can comfortably support. For example, if you try lifting a barbell that is too heavy for you to handle, you risk harming yourself since your technique may be improper. 


Even though the barbell shoulder press is a challenging exercise, there are many reasons why lifters should continue to perform it. Not only will it assist you in filling out your shirts, but it will also assist you in maintaining the health of your shoulders throughout a longer period. The shoulder push, on the other hand, will only get you a portion of the way there. Your diet will be the most crucial sticking point in your training if you want to ensure your gains are constant and efficient.

If you do not consume sufficient high-quality, whole meals, you will not see the outcomes you need to see. Because protein is the fundamental component of skeletal muscle, its consumption will be of utmost significance; hence, using a high-quality protein powder as a dietary supplement is always strongly recommended.

You will get a chiselled physique if you follow the appropriate exercise program and put the appropriate foods on your dinner plate. Your shoulders will also be chiselled if you do this. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can the barbell press help lose weight?

The barbell press builds strength and muscle, but it may indirectly help you lose weight. Lean muscular mass from barbell presses boosts metabolism. This increases resting calorie expenditure. Compound exercises like the barbell press boost heart rate and cardiovascular health, helping you lose weight.

Can I mix barbell presses with other exercises?

The barbell press can be used in a complete upper-body workout. Barbell rows, push-ups, lateral lifts, and tricep dips are good complements. By using varied movements, you may strengthen and balance different muscle groups.

Do barbell presses require a spotter?

A spotter isn't necessary, although it might help when lifting high weights or pushing your boundaries. A spotter can help you finish a repetition or safely return the barbell to the starting position. Use safety racks or a Smith machine if you don't have a spotter.

Is the barbell press adaptable?

Barbell presses can be customised for different fitness levels. Beginners can use lesser weights or dumbbells instead of a barbell to focus on technique. Add weight and try variants like the incline or decline barbell press as you improve. To ensure safe progression and proper changes, see a fitness specialist.

How do I properly perform the barbell press?

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart to perform the barbell press and your knees slightly bent. Hold the barbell with an overhand grip, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Lift the barbell to your shoulders, resting it on your chest. Press the barbell upward by extending your arms fully, and then slowly lower it back to the starting position with control. Keep your core engaged, maintain a straight back, and exhale as you press the barbell up.

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