- Grip the bar so that forearms are vertical.
- Look forward; head neutral.
- Bar gripped in the base of the palms, directly over the forearms.
- Chest up and expanded.
- Feet hip-shoulders-width apart.
- 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.
- Press the bar straight up.
- 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.
- 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.
“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.
Illustration by Ted Slampyak