The barbell shoulder press is one the best exercises you can do for building wider-looking, more powerful shoulders. The problem, however, is that many exercisers often perform the lift incorrectly and set themselves up for an injury. While at first glance the shoulder press seems quite simple, there is quite a bit of technique that will go a long way in making sure you are not only keeping your shoulders safe, but also getting in a great shoulder workout. Barbell shoulder presses can be done in both a seated and standing position. Seated will help in protecting the back a bit more, while standing will require some extra assistance from the core muscles. For beginners, I would suggest first starting with dumbbells before advancing on to the barbell. As you progress, mix in both barbell and dumbbell shoulder presses as part of a well-rounded shoulder routine.
Barbell Shoulder Press Technique TipsAssuming a standing position inside of a power rack with the bar placed at shoulder height:
- Grip the barbell just inside your normal bench press grip. Instead of flaring the elbows out, concentrate on bringing the elbows forward. This is not only easier on the shoulder joint, but it also sets the stage for the action of the shoulders as you press up.
- As you begin the press, the bar will clear your face as you’ll push your elbows out and back.
- Once the bar clears your head, push your shoulders back, move your head slightly forward and lock-out the bar directly over the top of your head.
- If someone were to watch your press from the side, the actual path of the bar is straight up and down. Your elbows and the head will move a bit and change position…the elbows start in then flare out as you come to the top and the head moves forward once the bar is past.
- As you lower the bar, reverse the above steps by moving your head slightly back and bringing your elbows in as the bar passes your face.