Using the Overhead Press for Complete Upper Body StrengthThe Overhead press until 1972 was actively recognized as one of the main activities in Weightlifting competitions. Professional bodybuilders and weightlifters were seen competitively arching their backs to press heavier weights overhead. This tendency made scoring of athletes a difficult task for the presiding judges which resulted in the Overhead press being completely removed from competitions altogether.

Bench press vs Overhead press what is the best?

Bench press exercise when mass building is priority

In the fitness industry today, some fitness enthusiasts and pro weight lifters in their training routines have found the bench press to be a more suitable exercise. However there are many who still believe in the lift to be a more effective exercise in strength training to provide more upper body strength in the individual allowing the it to be recognized as one of the main exercises within the StrongLifts 5X5 training workout.

What is the overhead press?

Strongman Overhead Press

It is traditionally observed as the lift in which you press of the bar from the front of the shoulders and move it overhead until both elbows become fully extended. The knees and hips should be maintained in a fixed position throughout the entire movement, if not the individual will find themselves doing the Push Press exercise. Given the level of difficulty, beginners are often recommended to have a professional trainer or experienced weightlifter on spot to assist them in achieving the correct technique.

Beginners who are unable to press the bar overhead are recommended to lower the barbell on the chest and placing it on the floor. Unlike the Bench press exercise the individual is never subjected to the possibility of injury by finding themselves stuck under the barbell.

Maintain  your balance

As with any other exercise requiring the use of a barbell individuals will occasionally find themselves having a difficult time maintaining a proper balance while performing the exercise. Trainers have as a result scheduled beginners in their strength training to initially focus on achieving the proper technique by using a weightless barbell and over time adding weights respectively allowing slow but steady progress.

Choose the appropriate weight

Although bodybuilders and professional weightlifters have been able to traditionally lift much heavier weights with the Bench press, the Overhead press has several additional benefits to the Bench press such as, providing the individual with a full body workout by targeting the trunk and leg muscles as the weight is placed on the shoulders, while targeting the arms and upper-chest muscles as the weighted barbell is pressed overhead.

This exercise has been used to stimulate growth within the Abdominal muscles additionally with the upper and lower back muscles as these targeted muscle tissues are used to stabilize the weight during the exercise. The upper-chest triceps and shoulders are used to press the weight overhead thus building the proper physique of the professional bodybuilder.

Alternate Bench Press and Overhead Press?

Many fitness enthusiasts and professional trainer have found that by alternatively training using the Bench press with the Overhead press they have been able to minimize the possibility of injury which often occurs through poorly trained muscle groups.

How to do the Overhead Press


  1. Maintaining the proper technique is key to gaining a complete and effective workout and should be observed as the individual should begin the exercise standing positioning both feet at shoulder-width apart to effect a good balance.
  2. The barbell should be firmly gripped with both hands close to the wrist at the base of the palm and at shoulder-width apart ensuring the hands are never allowed to touch the shoulders.
  3. The individual should inhale deeply as the weight is raised positioning the elbows in front of the barbell while looking to either side ensuring the upper-arms are not parallel with the ground.
  4. The bar should be pressed overhead in a straight line moving the torso and quickly tilting the head backward during the press.
  5. The torso should be shifted forward when the bar reaches to the height of the forehead as the individual continues to press the weight overhead. With the weight overhead, the chin should be in a position of almost touching the chest.
  6. At this point the individual should squeeze the back, shoulders and traps while locking both elbows completing the exercise.

Some of the popular press exercises used by many of the professional bodybuilders and weight lifters in the fitness industry today for complete upper-body strength include, the Military Press, the Dumbbell overhead press, the Push Press and the Jerk.

Author's Bio: 

Grant Donovan is a successful entrepreneur and expert in many disciplines including aviation, automotive, political, anti-aging and life coaching to name a few. But it is his passion for health, nutrition and fitness that he attributes as the leading factor for his success. All of which led him to create to share his large breadth of knowledge with the everyday man, and empower them to make the changes that will help lead to their success. He believes a life in balance of mind, body and soul is a life well lived and only when achieved can one unlock their true potential. At age 60, Grant serves as a living example of why staying healthy not only helps you live longer, but the improved quality of life, will allow you to push past boundaries and reach new heights you never knew were possible. With his inspirational personal journey of achievement he has motivated over 350,000+ subscribers to make a positive change in their life and guide them on their pursuit of happiness.