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How to Do the Overhead Press

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Updated March 21, 2007

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How to Do the Overhead Press -- Positioning the Body
Overhead press starting position

Starting position for the overhead press

(c) Paul Rogers

The overhead press is a standard weight lifting exercise with many variations including seated, standing, with dumbbell or barbell. The standing barbell press is featured in this description.

As for all exercises, don’t lift too heavy to begin with and stop if pain is felt. Remember to breathe; exhale on effort.

Muscles worked: mainly the shoulder muscles, the deltoids, but other muscles such as the trapezius at the back of the neck and back, the triceps at the back of the upper arm, and the upper chest are also involved.

Body Positioning

  • Hold the barbell at the upper chest with the overhand grip. The weight should be less that what you might normally deadlift.

  • Hold heavier weights with the 'clean' grip with wrists cocked back to provide support, and slightly wider than shoulder width.

  • Feet should be about shoulder width apart.

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