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High Inclines for Shoulders


Hi i was just wondering about the angle on a bench for a shoulder workout.

I find 90 degree straight up military press awkward and difficult to progress on. Recently i have been doing them on about 70 degree or so (APPROX) with dumbells and find it much more comfortable to do. I had a rotar cuff injury a few years ago and it does bother me a little still.

My question is does this angle hit the chest a little to much for a shoulder workout?
Usually train shoulders on friday and incline bench on a monday.

I realise that the idea is to experiment i just wanted to make sure this isnt a daft thing to do! :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


I've heard that the incline press used to be used as assistance for the Clean and Press in Olympic lifting- so it definitely hits your shoulders hard.

However, remember that the military press is a very difficult and technical press and takes a long time to progress. Try getting some fractional plates so you can progress more easily. Bring the weight down and work on your technique. If your shoulder/ rotator cuff still hurts, then by all means go back to the dumbbells.

If you can though, try to stick to the barbell military press- its probably one of the best exercises for shoulders out there.


Most strong benchers and bodybuilders with the best shoulders do high incline front presses or top half BTN presses (one or two do them with more ROM)...

Coan, Hoornstra, Levrone (for example): BTN Presses (Coan and Hoornstra go till their elbows are 90 deg roughly).

Ronnie, McGrath, Ruehl, Warren etc: High Incline seated front presses

Seated militaries are virtually never done with the seat at 90 deg. If it's one of those mil press benches with a short back-rest, then people usually slide forward on the seat some to get the angle right.

Press through your legs as well, don't forget that.

As for standing military, that exercise is really not too popular (talked about more recently due to 5/3/1, but really... Not that many successful trainees in bbing or pling do them from what I've seen)... Lighter weights, difficult progression... Second or third rate shoulder exercise/bench assistance at best considering the many other options, unless you're an olympic lifter...

Some love 'em though, they sure look bad-ass and all...


To give some idea of poundages used by the top guys... Both Coan and Hoornstra go over 405 lbs on the BTN (top half) press, Hoornstra actually does 495 for 1-2 or so. Levrone used more ROM in a non-counterweighted smith for 4pps I think...

Seated front Presses on the other hand are usually done to chin level at least and most strong pressers do 315 for 8-12, up to 405 for reps...


It's the standard angle for seated shoulder work... You'll be fine. 90 degrees would be retarded... There'd be no way to keep the pressure on your upper back then.


^Yeah but the standing press is a much better exercise all around, as it works the entire body pretty much. for balance. Seated press seems pointless to me- like doing squats in the smith or something.


That's perfect article logic.

Why do I need to work my entire body (and end up using less weight and making progression more difficult, and besides, all the rest of the body does is some stabilizing... It's not like a strict mil press actually does anything for your legs for example... Even a push press... It's too little weight and too little ROM for them...
The whole "works everything" theory is a fallacy... Just because a muscle contracts to help you stabilize doesn't mean it's going to get stronger and bigger) when my goal is to increase the size and strength of my front delts? I already do plenty of other stuff to take care of other muscle groups and balance after all.

And even seated you can still get a similar effect if you push through your legs, or even lift your ass off the seat and basically just push through your feet and upper back...

You can get "core" work out of so many other big exercises, weighted pull-ups, deadlifts, squats, front squats, etcetc. Even heavy cheat curls or standing french presses...

Got to ask yourself what you are trying to accomplish with an exercise...


And if seated work seems pointless to you... I take it that the vast, vast majority of people in powerlifting and bodybuilding who have made really major progress are doing it all wrong?


C'mon son...



Thanks guys. Will carry on with the shoulder pressing at an angle then. I tried benching incline yesterday and still progressed so it seems to be ok.

BB overhead pressing is not good for me. Makes my shoulder joint feel very weird. Not much i can do about that though as I was told it may feel like this the rest of my life.....not painful. When doing bb press it felt really weak within the joint and loose. NOT going to risk it for some extra 'balance'.


Yeah I will agree, use some angle. Once I worked this out, I haven't looked back. Personally, I find it friendlier on my spine ... never the less, I still do military presses just because I enjoy the movement.


stop being a dumbass. It's not perfect article logic, it's perfect logic. Always do anything standing that you could do seated, especially for a BEGINNER. Doing something standing means you have to work harder, working harder means you get better results. A "similar" effect by pushing through your feet on a seated press? lifting your ass off the seat of a seated press? Then it's not a seated press anymore! What you just mentioned is practically a written guide on how to injure your back doing seated presses.

Additionally, seated exercises put more compression forces on the spine as you take your entire legs out of the equation. You are a moron, please stop telling stuff like this to beginners who will probably believe you.


Cheers. I'm hard pressed to think of any powerlifter who uses seated press as a primary assistance exercise.

Bodybuilders yes...and they tend to put too much weight on the bar and lower it to their foreheads...not reaching behind their head in order to "activate the front delts"

Edit: I have seen the Derek Poundstone seated press vid- but I'm pretty sure he does that because most of his pressing is done standing with a log, and this helps take some stress off of the lower back.


All of the biggest guys in my gym do some kind of seated press with a slight angle, exactly as CC described. The question as to "working harder" and "better results" requires clarification of goals, there are almost never absolutes in weightlifting. If the goal is better activation of the shoulder musculature, the seated press with leg drive and a slight angle is a good option. If the goal is achieving full body tension and building a big, strict millitary press, well, you obviously need to stand. Don't let your "perfect logic" get in the way of exercises that work well.


Did I not just list Coan, Hoornstra and co?
There is a guy in the pl forum who made a "600lb raw bench" thread... What's he do? Seated Overhead Press, 315x8 or so after all his other pressing of the day... He reps 600 on the bench, raw...

Where on earth did you get that from ?

He is a strongman competitor, of course he will have to do his event training etc standing...

Again: Almost all the greatest benchers in powerlifting who actually do press overhead, use seated BTN or seated front presses as their main overhead press.

You can do what you want, ultimately, I take it you're on some 5x5 routine. That's fine. But don't make up nonsense here about powerlifters avoiding seated overhead work.

The OP wanted to know about the angle of the seat... On seated presses. So there.


^ my experience of "bodybuilders" at gyms/ ronnie coleman videos, haha.


Well excuse you...

Just for 2 examples. I'm not going to dig them all out.

You do have a bit of an attitude for someone who has zero experience himself, don't you think?


Wait a sec... you're doing high angle presses with dumbbells?

Maybe give a read to this well-written and fairly-detailed article talking about the overhead press (even though The Other C.C. has a disdain for "article logic").
It has some other exercise options to consider, particularly the neutral-grip dumbbell press.

Also, I think comments like this...

and this...

deserve much more attention that they're getting.

What, specifically, have you done to address the problem you have with your shoulders? Plus, what is the exact diagnosed problem?

I find it hard to believe that you're just settling for the doctors telling you, "Yeah, uh, it's gonna be like that forever. Sucks to be you, dude."

Have you done rehab or corrective programming? Tried anything to let you perform a basic bodily movement like raising your arms overhead without pain?


It seems my question has led to some disagreement.......So even though it hurts my shoulders and find it difficult to progress on I should use it because its a (slightly) better exercise? I dont have a problem with something 'uncomfortable' but i lift for fun and im not doing anything that may bother tendons and joints in a very bad way.

What about the db use aswel? Wont this help strengthen stabiliser joints aswel?