in: Fitness, Health & Fitness, Visual Guides

• Last updated: June 1, 2021

Know Your Lifts: Overhead Press

Illustration guide showing how to do overhead press.


  • 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.

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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