What muscles does the barbell overhead press?

The barbell overhead press is also called shoulder press as it mainly targets the shoulders, but also the upper back and triceps. When performed in standing position (the seated version also exists) it helps develop the core and leg stability.

How to do a barbell overhead press?

Stand upright, core engaged, face looking forward and feet flat on the floor (hip or shoulder-width apart).

Hold the barbell with a pronated grip (slightly wider than your shoulders) and keep your wrists as rigid as you can. The barbell is slightly higher than your upper chest but slightly lower than your collarbones. Your elbows are right under your hands and close to your body.

From here, extend your elbows and press the bar overhead. Your elbows should be aligned with your ears and the barbell should finish above your head, not in front of it. Return to the starting position in a controlled movement.

Video demo:

Pro tips:

  • You shouldn’t be able to see the barbell once you’ve pressed it. Your wrists should be in line with your shoulders.

How to tell if you’re doing it right:

You’re not swinging and stay grounded on the floor.