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in: Barbell, Health & Sports, Strength, Visual Guides

February 11, 2013 Last updated: October 20, 2019

Know Your Lifts: Overhead Press

Start. Look forward; head neutral. Grip the bar so that forearms are vertical. Bar about clavicle level. Hands don’t touch shoulders. Wrists in line with forearms. Elbows in front of the barbell. Squeeze glutes to avoid arching your back. Weight heavy in heels. Feet hip-shoulder-width apart. Chest up and expanded. Bar gripped in the base of the palms, directly over the forearms. Life. Press bar straight up. Lock elbows out. Squeeze shoulder blades while extending arms overhead until full extension is reached. Keep upper back, glutes, and abs tight. Straight line going from the bar, down through your shoulder blades, and through middle of feet. Drive through heels while pressing. Tuck chin back and press bar straight up and overhead to full extension; return head to neutral and bring torso forward once bar clears the face.

“Know Your Lifts” is an illustrated guide series that shows how to perform basic weight lifting exercises. Check out our previous guides on the High-Bar Back Squat and the Deadlift. On the docket today is another essential and beastly lift: the Overhead Press. The overhead press (or shoulder press, or strict press, or just “press”) is superior to the bench press in that it works the whole body and is a much more functional exercise (most of the time when you’re lifting things you’re on your feet, not lying on you back). It’s also feels pretty manly to hoist a heavy barbell above your head.

Thanks to Barry Schroeder and Jim Schoenberg of CrossFit Sandstorm for consulting on this post.

Know Your Lifts Series: 
High-Bar Back Squat
Overhead Press

Like this illustrated guide? Then you’re going to love our book The Illustrated Art of Manliness! Pick up a copy on Amazon.

Illustration by Ted Slampyak

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