The military press is very popular with both bodybuilders and powerlifters. It’s a compound upper body push exercise that works your shoulders, back, triceps, biceps and chest.

  • Barbell
  • Compound

This exercise it’s very easy to injure yourself if you use too heavy a weight, so it’s strongly recommended you warm up correctly and use correct form. If you do not have correct form and choose to lift a heavy weight your lower back would be at risk. This exercise is typically performed with a barbell so you can lift a heavier load, however, can also be performed with dumbbells. The difference between the military press and power press is that with the military press you keep your legs straight, this prevents you from using the ‘bounce’ if you were to bend your legs in the lower phase. Therefore the military press is a lot harder than a power press.  

Similar Exercises to Try

Equipment Required

Muscles Worked

How to Do a Military Press

Fitness model performing a Military Press exercise
Fitness model performing a Military Press exercise
  1. To be able to lift your maximum amount of weight above your head, in the Military Press, you should ideally use a squat rack, with the barbell already near shoulder height this means it saves you having to bend over to pick it up and possibly straining your back
  2. Your feet should be roughly shoulder width apart, your hand grip should also be shoulder width apart.
  3. Move your chest under the bar, lift the bar slightly so it is free of the rack and take a step backwards
  4. Keep your legs straight (don’t bend them as that would be a different move) then push the bar upwards, above your head and lockout your arms.
  5. After you have locked out, simply bring the barbell back down to shoulder height (the slower and more controlled you can do this the more time under tension, which improves muscle growth).
  6. This would be one repetition.