Barbell Military Press - Correct Technique Step by Step

The barbell military press is one of the best exercises for your shoulders. The barbell military press improves the most vital indicators of the shoulders and increases their volume.

While the barbell military press is considered one of the basic exercises for developing the upper body, not knowing the technique can be dangerous.

Beginners often make several mistakes when doing the military press: the most common are in the grip and when raising the bar. If this is not corrected, it can lead to injury and pain in the lower back.

This article describes the correct barbell military press technique and common mistakes a beginner should avoid.

Barbell Military Press – What is it?

The barbell military press is considered one of the basic multi-joint exercises. It is one of the most effective exercises for the shoulders and is never lacking in barbell disciplines like CrossFit and bodybuilding.

Learning to perform this exercise correctly is essential to building upper body muscles.

With the correct technique of military press, it is possible to achieve muscular hypertrophy of the deltoids, the entire area of ​​the shoulder muscles, and secondarily the core is worked.

Standing Barbell Military Press – Correct Step-by-Step Technique

The barbell military press is considered a challenging exercise for a beginner. Improving the neuromuscular connection is essential to avoid falling into common mistakes.

While learning the correct technique of the barbell military press takes time and dedication, the results will be worth it.

To avoid injury, a particular focus should be placed on the grip and the starting and ending position of the exercise. The following describes the barbell military press technique:

  1. Starting position
  1. Grip

The grip in the military barbell press should always be with the palm. As indicated in the figure, it is essential to place the bar at the bottom of the palm rather than trying to support its weight with the force of your fingers.

This barbell military press technique error is the leading cause of wrist pain and significantly increases the risk of joint injury. The thumb should cover the bar, not overlap it. The support of the bar should be in the part so that the bar’s weight is on the “meaty” part of the shoulder.

If you want to work the lower deltoid more, you should make a narrow grip; on the contrary, if you’re going to work the middle and outer part of the deltoid, the grasp should be comprehensive.

  1. How to raise the bar?

To learn how to lift the bar, it is best to practice the movement without weight. One of the keys is at the lowest point of the trajectory. When going up in the barbell military press, the elbows should form a line perpendicular to the ground.

The wrists should not rotate forward or backward. When adding the weight, the bar should rest on the wrist without enough pressure to cause you to deviate in the trajectory. If you can’t hold the bar this way, the weight is too high.

The legs should rest firmly on the floor in the proper barbell military press technique. The knees must not bend. The abdominal muscles are the ones that must provide stability, so they must be tensioned.

This will protect your spine and lower back from possible injury. During the movement, pay attention to your breathing. Ideally, inhale air at the lowest point of the trajectory and exhale at the top.

  1. How to end the movement?

The upper part of the movement is where the work of the shoulders shines. And in fact, this is where beginners tend to make the most mistakes. In the barbell military press technique, you must use the deltoid muscle. As seen in the image, you must bring your shoulders up with complete control of the movement.

This detail in technique will help the trapezius muscles work better, but it will significantly reduce the load on the shoulder joint. If you can’t do this, practice the weightless technique until it comes off. Otherwise, it can be a potential cause of shoulder injuries sooner or later.

Common mistakes in beginners

The barbell military press technique can be challenging to start with. However, you should not worry. It is a matter of practice and dedication until it comes out. The most common beginner mistakes and how to correct them are described below:

  1. Bring the bar behind the head

Carrying the bar behind the head in the military press is strictly prohibited. An error in the technique of the exercise practically ensures a shoulder injury. When performing a barbell military press in this manner, the shoulder joint receives an excessive and hazardous load.

  1. Leg push

The leg push means that you are doing the bar’s inspiration; although it can be used lightly to start it, it is not what you should aim for. Incorrect barbell military press technique, the load must be supported by the upper body muscles, not the legs.

  1. Body tilt

The body tilt is one of the most common mistakes in the barbell military press. In particular, when loads start to increase. Depending on the percentage of bodyweight you are trying to do, a slight degree of body tilt may be necessary.

However, it would help if you did not continue to increase the angle as the lift continues. If the lean of the body increases during the ride, what you are doing is an incline press, not a strict barbell military press.

What are the best methods to correct these common mistakes? There are four things you can do:

  • Drop the weight
  • Record a video to fix yourself
  • Practice seated dumbbell military press
  • Ask a coach for assistance

Why is it one of the best exercises for the shoulders?

The barbell military press is a complete exercise for power and functional ability. If you know how to do this exercise over time, you will achieve a more upright and muscular posture.

You can do a barbell military press in a classic shoulder volume routine. However, it can also be part of a full-body workout.

Suppose you have decided to achieve muscle growth in the body’s upper body. The military barbell press should not be missing from your routines.

Dumbbell Military Press Yes or no?

Replacing the barbell bench press with the dumbbell military press is possible. However, it is not the best for a beginner. The reason: using dumbbells makes it more difficult to achieve stability. Just as errors in the correct position of the wrists are more frequent.

If you still decide to do the military dumbbell press, you should use dumbbells with a significantly lower weight. Excessive weight gain will undoubtedly lead to errors in technique.

The slightest change in the trajectory of movement or a slight rotation of the shoulder can cause a rupture of the soft tissues of the shoulder, which puts an end to strength training for at least a couple of years. Focusing on the military barbell press technique is essential to avoid dislocations and sports injuries.


The barbell military press is an essential exercise for the shoulders and back. This exercise works for the deltoid muscles, the trapezius, and the middle zone.

The correct standing military press technique can be divided into four steps. In the grip and the final position is where most mistakes are made.

Performing the military press correctly is essential so that wrist injuries, dislocations, and lower back injuries do not occur.

The military press should never be performed behind the head. This technique variant is one of the leading causes of sports shoulder injuries.

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