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Shoulder Press Question


so ive been doing standing shoulder press for a while but i have some questions...

  1. before i push the weight up are my elbows pointing out or to the ground?

  2. should my wrist be totally unbent?

thanks for any help


Ok so to answer one, it really depends on where the weight is starting, but if its starting already shouldered at your chest, the palm of your hand should be pointing to the ceiling, your forearm and bicep should be around 45 degrees in relation to eachother and your posture should be straight.

Your legs should have a slight bend in them and at no point should you hyperextend your back.

Hope this helps.



Mark Rippetoe coaching the shoulder press:



Elbows should be pointed forward (EDIT: almost like at the end of a power clean).

Wrists: just be shure that the bar is in a straight line with forearms (so wrists are not too straight, and not too bent...hope it makes sense).

Legs/feet/abs... : I press in a strict "military" style, which means heels close togheter (toes pointing out at 45�° for balance), glutes and abs squeezed as hard as possible. This way, you'll prevent both back hyperextension and cheating (slight leg drive).


Relating to shoulder press, how does it work for building muscle, like do your shoulders get broader from it or what :S
I've heard that big rear delts make your back look wide, if your looking at it, but what about just generally broader shoulders.
Sorry OP just didnt want to start a new thread and im interested in the exercise you posted :slight_smile:


Shoulder press builds delts, no doubt about it...but since we're all slightly different one from another, there are people who get broad, full shoulders just with BB press, and other that need more isolation work (lateral raise, rear delt raise...).

Probably, to fully develope lateral delts, you need some serious lateral raises (in addition to heavy shoulder presses).


Stick to your big exercises at first before you go into raises. Bentover rows, and variable grips on t-bar rows will help you develop your rear delts. Standing shoulder press, Arnold Dumbbell Presses, and Standing Military press's will generally hit your median and front delts, your triceps and your rear delt but only minimally and is pretty much the only things that will give you solid boulder shoulders and not just mirror strength, so stay away from isolation exercises in the beginning.


Thanks mate, I always include a big compound exercise for every muscle group, isolation is usually kept to a minimum since im still heaaaaaaps skinny :slightly_smiling:
Thanks for the help.


Okay thank you guys!


alright for your 1st question the elbow position is crucial! for safty, strength/size and proper lifting mechanics start with you shoulders and traps low, lats flared out (i hope u know how 2 do it though)your elbows r gonna be on top of the flared lats in front of u while gripping the bar very tightly, if your elbows r directly under your wrist it should minimize the wrist hyperextending but also make a conscious effort 2 keep em very str8

  your body needs 2 be in perfect alignment, have ur legs and feet 2gether pointin 45 degrees out, legs SHOULD be locked str8 (not hyperextended), not even  bent, if u do so you will lose kinetic linking that starts at the floor. Your glutes (buttocks) should be locked very tight( like your holding in a case of the runs); which will keep your lower back safe from hyperextending, on a similar note keep your abs aggressively tighted while your pressing (also to keep your lower back safe)

So to summarize and wrap up;
1 keep your body strong and contracted, calves, quads, glutes, abs, hands n lats.
2 elbows restin on lats, wrist directly above the elbows.


A couple of things that have helped me.

1) Chest up, and shoulders down and back (like with bench)
2) Elbows forward and even up a bit
3) Put pressure on the pinky side of your hand as if you are trying to bend the bar in half (this helps with wrist pain for me)

That rippetoe video shows you what you need to know, and as for the lift if hits primarily the anterior delts and triceps. I prefer a push press to allow for a slightly heavier weight, and if I were trying to target my shoulders i'd go with a bradford press.


Your description is pretty good, but there are a few things that might be confusing to a beginner. Dont worry about flaring your lats. Just stick your chest up and out and pull your shoulders/traps back and down, just like bench. And you dont want your elbows directly under your wrists. This will likely pull you forward and out of the starting position. Elbows should be elevated a bit, not quite as far as a front squat position but enough to make sure the weight is resting on your chest. And this has been a big point for me. The weight should rest on your chest, you shouldn't be supporting the weight with much with your arms and shoulders in the starting position. This will also make push press easier. Lastly, you can put one foot forward a bit if it makes things more comfortable for you.

All in all a pretty good description though.


thanks great feedback guys...video was a big help!


thanx dankid, on my descripyion for the "lats out method", im very big on recommmending they be out: reason being is that it neurologically preps the lifter to actually "pull" the bar down, (as if in a lat pull down machine).

also. pulling causes the shoulder 2 remain very stable and seated rather than "floating"
with the conventional chest up, rest on chest method, ill usually c the shoulder float up every time (VERY HAZARDOUS) I can c why u dont recommend the "wrist under elbow method" if u place the bar on the chest or AC then itll definitly throw off ur balance.

my method is that the elbows be placed approx. 8"? forward of the body befor the press begins. (exactly the way the olympic lifters can the "clean") pay close attention 2 those. another note i should add is that if u keep ur glutes and quads tightened up hard enuf your body will automatically "center" this is however only valid for the strict military press. as 4 the push press and push jerk, i love those 2 death, i wouldnt recommend em 4 a beginner though, just 4 the "seasoned", due 2 the Ground force reaction it feeds 2 the body (or whatever physics calls it).

BTW the foot forward may feel a lil easier but youll feel its much more "spine and strength friendly" to "squeeze inner thighs 2gether" and like i said befor keep glutes, hams, quads, abs, even calves and tibia tight. hope this clears up my methodology though.

      Ps "lats out" is a real hard thing 2 coach online, my tips 2 doin this would be like dankid and I  said sholders and traps down or (i beleive its called) Scapular depression, (been outta school 2 long now) if u could look at a kinesiology or sports med. site, or here at T-Nation they might b able 2 show u how 2 "lat spread" or scapular depress. hope this helps, if any ?s let me know.