T Nation

The Military Press

Hey, guys…I was checking out some Olympia pics today. It reminded me that Kevin Levrone had some of the most UNBELIEVABLE delts in the buisness!

Now…it seems like all the “Big Boys” do Military Presses, especially to hit the anterior delts (this ain’t just in “Flex”…it’s on most of these guys tapes. They tend to use other movements for the lateral and posterior heads).Question:

1)Do you guys use MP’s in order to put some serious beef on your anterior delts AND if so…standing or sitting?

2)IF sitting, it seems like many sit at about an 80 degree angle to hit the anterior head. Anybody sit straight up?

3)What do you guys thinks about MP’s in general?


I re-incorporated MPs into my workouts about two years ago after a looooong time without them, and was rewarded with a spurt of growth. I had been avoiding them because I didn’t want too many pressing exercises and I also didn’t want to overtrain my front delts. I’m still a bit worried about the overtraining aspect, and therefore cycle them in and out of my workouts, but I definitely think that they’re a necessary core exercise.

As for the type of presses, I do 'em all. Barbell, dumbell, standing, seated, push-press, slight angle variations, Smith machine half-presses, whatever I can dream up. The only movement I DON’T do is behind the neck press, as it always ends up pinching a nerve in my back if I go over about 100 lbs.

Great Great exercise. At my gym we dont have a proper military press rack so what i have to do is clean the weight (170 pounds) off the floor and then sit down and then start the exercise. Since i am probably the only one that does the exercise at my gym i doubt they will get a proper rack. Ever since i started doing this exercise about 2 years ago my overall shoulder strength and size has increased dramatically.

I love standing military presses. I haven’t done them since my shoulder injury but i sure miss them. I would never do them sitting, done standing it is a more of a complete exercise.

I don’t see how you can sit straight and do a military press unless you’re talking about behind the neck presses, in which case I can’t help you. My shoulder hurts just by thinking about those.

Recently, in light of some shoulder problems, I tried to convince myself that I was one of the lucky ones who could have good delts without training them directly. Along with back and traps, they USED to be one of my best bodyparts. Only three weeks ago was I able to go back to pain-free training of them directly with overhead pressing…man, did I miss them! I can’t remember the last time that I did a regular ol’ barbell military press from in front, as I’ve always gotten better results from BTN, dumbell, push, and Arnold presses. These exercises just feel more natural, and I feel that BTN press keeps more of the load on the middle delts. I think the most natural position for presses is that which your body assumes without back support; I do my BTN presses in a power rack on a regular old bench.

I do them as part of the clean, squat and press exercise. I do a double squat–the first is a front squat and then move into a front press drop the weight to my shoulders and do a rear squat. Coming back up, I do a rear press. It ain’t easy, but it has added to my shoulder girdle…

Hey…I think that it’s interesting how people have such varied experiences with Behind the Neck Presses…whether good or bad, it seems like the operative words are “be careful…”(Parillo really likes Behind The Necks, by the way…)

Char…I like the idea of variation…do you do one as sort of your “core” or “base” exercise? Ray and Levrone seem to favor the stand-up Barbell Presses…with some SERIOUS weight!

Restless…yea…I’ve seen some weird “sitting straight up” attempts…but it seems like without support, your weight will be limited, and your back will hate you!

Thanks, guys! Keep the thoughts and ideas coming!

standing MP’s is one of the greatest upper body movements of all time in my book !!

I think standing DB press is the best of the military press variations; I feel it stresses the shoulders more and triceps less than other variations, and it’s also a tremendous core workout.

I use them every once in a while just as a test of strength. I think they probably do more harm than good, especially the way most people do them. My shoulders really never grew until I stopped doing the bodybuiilding press and started doing variations of the olympic lifts coupled with different types of lateral movements.

I cycle through all the variations - my favorites being push presses (clean grip), seated BTN presses (wide grip) and one arm db presses (stand, seat, push, whatever). I find that the one arm variety really allows me to focus more on the movement and ensure proper ROM and pain free lifting. I almost always have some sort of direct shoulder pressing movement in my routine.

“Restless…yea…I’ve seen some weird “sitting straight up” attempts…but it seems like without support, your weight will be limited, and your back will hate you!”

Musafa, your weight will only be limited if you are used to do them sitting down, otherwise your back and abs will be up to it. It’s like using a belt, you only need one if you use it regularly. I vote for standing. Just progress slowly and you’ll see you’ll be able to use a lot more weight than you think.

I like to do standing military presses on chest and back day. I replace a typical “chest” movement with them, paired with a chinning movement. It has worked wonders for me, and people I’ve helped have all responded well to cutting back on benching for a short while. I have to agree with Jason on the push press, they’re awesome.

I think that doing military presses sitting down is better than standing. With standing,you are actually able to incoporate help from other muscles other than your delts. If you really want to isolate your delts try doing military presses sitting down.

You mentioned the way most people do them is incorrect, could you elaborate on how to do them correctly? Thanks.

“Char…I like the idea of variation…do you do one as sort of your “core” or “base” exercise?”

Nope. I use them all, the only “rule” being that I try not to repeat the more similar movements consecutively.

Just as a side note, I also do a lot of lateral raise work. (Heh, heh, “side” note. Get it?) I really like Poliquin’s old routine.

While I looooove MP’s, I also loooove that Hammer Strength seater shoulder press machine - ‘cept I sit into the seat, not facing out. Hits more of the rear delts that way. Anywhoos’, I sit in a way so that I don’t arch my low back too much. That’s much more of a concern for me.

However, it's been awhile since I've performed MPs'. Been working with cleans and DB clean and presses instead.

I usually do MP sitting down. I also cannot do BTN- if I do I always end up straining my rotators. I also sit at an 80 degree angle- I don’t see how you can sit straight when pressing to the front. I also use DB, Arnold press, and machine press. Interestingly, I can use more total weight with DB’s then a BB. I guess this is because with DBs, you can sit straight up, or maybe because the DB press is just a more comfortable movement for me. Regardless, I have recently incorporated a seperate day for delts- mostly compound movements, while performing isolation movements (laterals, rear delt raises etc)on chest day. Seems to be working well so far.

Most people here probably do them correctly but the typical person I see doing them in a gym leans way back turning the movement into more of an incline press, arches way back putting awkward stress on the spine, and bounces the bar off either the chest or the traps stressing the rotator cuff. I’ve seen quite a few people hurt themselves doing the behind the neck variety and it’s very rare that I see someone perform them slowly with the elbows out and up and really concentrating on the delts.

To do a seated military without a “proper” rack, just straddle a standard benchpress bench, facing the upright supports. Lift [and separate :wink: ]