How to Do Overhead Press: Muscles Worked & Proper Form

Overhead press exercise

Muscles Worked in the Overhead Press

Muscles worked in overhead press exercise

Primary muscles worked:

Secondary muscles worked:

How to Overhead Press

  1. Grip the bar slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
  2. Inhale, lightly brace your core, and unrack the bar.
  3. Let the bar rest against your front delts while you take a step back from the rack.
  4. Press the bar up to straight arms, while exhaling.
  5. Inhale at the top, or while lowering the bar with control back to your shoulders.
  6. Repeat for reps.


The overhead press is a classic upper-body exercise, and previously a competitive event in Olympic weightlifting. You can get into the pressing position by either cleaning the bar off the floor or by lifting it out from a rack as described above.

In order to do a strict press you should not use your legs, but instead, keep them still during the entire lift. When you use your legs to help push the bar up, it is usually called push press, and when you both use your legs on the way up and also dip your legs to catch the bar on straight arms, it is called a ”jerk”.

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Looking For an Overhead Press Training Program?

Good, we have them.

How about Press Pasodoble, an upper body program that will give you boulders for shoulders?

Or maybe Russian Pressing Ladder, that will challenge you with an uncomplicated but tough progression?