How to Do Military Presses with Perfect Form (Stay Safe)

By Mark / last month
Military presses are a great exercise, but only if done with the correct form.

The military press is a fantastic muscle-building exercise. But the key to success is getting your form right. Lean how to do military presses the right way and get the best results.

Work Out Like a Soldier and Get Super Fit

They say shoulders make the man. You can have huge biceps, a washboard stomach, and fabulous traps, but unless you are wearing a tight fitting shirt your clothes will cover up all that magnificence. Not so with shoulders.

A man with broad shoulders will be looked at with admiration by both males and females. One great bodybuilding exercise that will help you get well-defined shoulders is the military press. But, in order to achieve this, you will need to do the military press with perfect form.

The military press is an excellent exercise for building shoulder muscles. It can be done seated or standing. The seated version focuses primarily on the shoulder muscles (anterior and lateral deltoids), triceps, and lower trapezius muscles. The standing version uses all of the muscles mentioned previously, but also engages your core muscles as well.

Military presses are a great exercise, but only if done with the correct form.

Military presses demand military precision in their execution.

The military press is done often in the gym, but it is frequently executed incorrectly. Performing this exercise with poor form has the tendency to either train the wrong muscles or lead to injury. If you want to perform the military press with perfect form, you must focus on hand grip, the path the bar travels, elbow and shoulder blade placement, controlling your core muscles and stance.

Hand Grip

The proper hand grip is very important when performing this exercise. An overly wide grip will place the wrong kind of stress on your shoulders. If your grip is too narrow you may not be able to lift the barbell at all, and if you do you may incur an injury. The perfect hand grip is slightly beyond shoulder width with your elbows resting directly under your wrists and with your wrists maintaining a neutral position.

Path the Bar Travels

Once you have correctly positioned your hands, it’s time to get ready to lift the barbell. The starting point is at the base of the neck, but depending on your particular body composition, you can begin with the bar under your chin. You’ll know if you are positioned correctly if the bar would hit you on the chin if you failed to tilt your head slightly backward. When you raise the bar, it should almost graze your nose.

Once you get to the top of this lift, you have two ways to complete it. Either you can position the barbell so it goes backward slightly and creates a gap formed by your arms and then lock your elbows, or you can keep a completely vertical path until you get to the top of the lift.

Elbow and Shoulder Blade Placement

As previously stated, when you first position your hands your elbows should be in a neutral position underneath your wrists. On the way to the top of the lift, your elbows should flare out slightly until you reach the top where they should be pointing horizontally. On the descent, your elbows should slowly rotate so they will return to the starting position.

During the concentric phase of the lift (moving upward), your shoulder blades should rotate upwards. If you have the proper hand grip and elbow placement this movement should feel natural. During the eccentric phase of the lift (moving downward), you should squeeze your shoulder blades together.

Controlling Core Muscles

With the seated military press, the core muscles aren’t engaged as much as with the standing military press. With the standing military press, after you’ve correctly positioned your hands and elbows, you must stabilize the abdominal muscles by pulling them slightly inward and you must squeeze your gluteal muscles. This will help you with proper balance when you start to lift the weight. A good trick is to imagine yourself pushing your feet into the ground, this will further help you to properly stabilize yourself.


You can place your feet in slightly varying positions, but the best option is with them placed shoulder width apart. Another option is to place either the left or right foot slightly in front, instead of having them parallel to one another. The latter option provides some lifters with a greater feeling of stability, enabling them to perform the exercise without issues.

Perform Perfect Presses

If you really want to stand out among others, you should perform the military press. This compound exercise, when performed correctly, will help you get the broad-shouldered look you seek. If you adhere to proper form by having the correct hand grip, elbow and shoulder placement, and stance, you will be turning heads everywhere you go.

About the author


Hello, I'm Mark. I'm a bodybuilding champion and have been active in the industry for over 10 years. I created this website to provide fellow bodybuilders with useful information to help them achieve their dream physique.