The overhead press is one of the most challenging yet effective workouts that focus on building a strong upper body. In fact, you will definitely find it in weight training programs or home workout that focus on upper body muscle conditioning. 

If you too have been planning to keep your upper body in shape and strong, you should definitely try overhead press. Also known as shoulder press, the overhead press can be done anywhere ‚Äď be it a gym or your home. You only need a few types of equipment such as a barbell, kettlebell, or dumbbell. There is not much difference between barbell overhead press and dumbbell overhead press.¬†

In this article, we have shared a few important things about overhead press you should know before including it in your fitness routine. Read on: 

Which Muscles are Worked During Overhead Press?

While everyone knows that an overhead shoulder press is good for the upper body, not many are aware of the muscles that actually get worked during this workout. Below, we have listed the muscles and body parts that get benefit from overhead press exercise based on the variations you try: 

Muscles worked during seated overhead press:

  • Pectorals (Chest)
  • Triceps (Arms)
  • Deltoids (Shoulders)
  • Trapezius (Upper Back)

Muscles worked during standing overhead press:

  • Pectorals (Chest)
  • Triceps (Arms)
  • Deltoids (Shoulders)
  • Trapezius (Upper Back)
  • Core Muscles

How To Perform Overhead Press Exercise?

Performing overhead press is simple but simple does not mean it’s easy. You ought to have some experience in weight lifting. In addition, it is also very important to perform overhead press after learning it from a professional. This helps in ensuring that you are following the correct posture and technique and there are low chances of any serious injury. 

Below is a step-by-step guide on performing standing overhead press with a barbell. Read it and then you can try other variations as per your requirements: 

Step 1: Stand straight with your body tight and rigid. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart. 

Step 2: Hold the barbell just above your upper chest with hands’ grip around shoulder-width apart. 

Step 3: Inhale and push the weight towards the ceiling. While doing so make sure your wrists and elbows follow the straight path up and while coming down. It is important to note that when you are pushing the weights up and down during a barbell overhead press, you must engage your glutes and core muscles as well. 

Step 4: Extend your elbows overhead unless they are locked. 

Step 5: Pause for a while and bring the barbell down as you exhale. 

Step 6: Repeat. 

For a kettlebell or dumbbell overhead press, you have to follow the same instructions. Just change the weight. 

In case you are performing seated overhead press, you have to begin the exercise by sitting straight on the bench press. Your feet should again be shoulder-width apart. Grab the barbell or dumbbell from the squat rack and follow the same instructions that we discussed above. 

Top Variations of Overhead Press 

If you thought that the position and weights are the way to add a new twist to shoulder press, here’s a surprise for you. There are multiple other variations that are even more advanced and effective than the overhead press. Some of these are: 

  • Military Press: It is quite difficult to perform this overhead press. In military press, you have to keep your feet together when pushing the weights up and down. Other than that, the technique is mostly the same as the overhead press.¬†
  • Push Press: In this overhead press variation, you have to start with the bar on your chest and quarter squat as you drive back up. The squatting momentum helps in thrusting the bar upwards with greater force.¬†
  • Thruster: This variation is similar to push press but instead of a quarter squat, you need to do a full squat. It is a great workout to challenge your whole body.¬†

Tips To Perfect Overhead Shoulder Press 

Performing overhead shoulder press in the right way is crucial to avoid excessive strain or any injury in the muscles. Here are some tips and techniques from experts that you should keep in mind while doing barbell overhead shoulder press or any other variation: 

  • Grip Position: It is recommended that you should hold the bar at a distance no more than shoulder-wide. If the grip is either closer or far away from this, you will feel weak and won‚Äôt be able to lift the weight properly.¬†
  • Mobile Wrists: Whether you are doing standing or seated overhead dumbbell press, it is essential to have mobile wrists. This ensures you are able to initiate a strong push. Moreover, better mobility also helps in allowing you to avoid injuries.¬†
  • Head Position: Keep your head straight but as you push the weights upwards, (during barbell overhead shoulder press) slightly tilt is backward to avoid hitting your chin or nose.¬†
  • Chest Position: Don‚Äôt shrug or loosen your chest during the overhead press. A strong and straight position of the chest will help in better and smoother movements so that all the joints and muscles in the upper body are involved in the workout. This is essential even when you are performing seated overhead dumbbell press.¬†

Benefits of Overhead Press 

Knowing the benefits of overhead press helps in motivating you to perform the workout regularly. Some of the most effective and popular ones are: 

  • Boosts core strength: One of the most essential things you should do while performing overhead press is to engage your core. This results in conditioning these muscles and eventually strengthening them.¬†
  • Increases shoulder muscles: As an upper body workout, toning and increasing your shoulder muscles is one of the core benefits of the overhead press. It impacts your deltoids and gives you stronger, ‚Äúboulder‚ÄĚ shoulders.¬†
  • Improved lockout power: Developing upper body strength also increases your natural power capacity. It further helps you in performing other workouts such as overhead squats, Olympic lifts, and overhead carriers.¬†

Other than these, you can also notice differences in performing day-to-day activities. With increased upper body power, you can lift heavier objects with ease and also reduce your chances of injuries. It also boosts your performance in sports such as swimming, tennis, baseball, and many others. 


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December 21, 2021

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