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In Weight Lifting, what is the Military Press?

By Nychole Price
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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The military press, also known as a shoulder press, exercises the lateral head of the deltoids. The military press is so named because it was an exercise primarily used by military soldiers. During physical training, the soldiers would hold their rifles above their head and press them upwards.

The military press can be done on a weight lifting machine or with free weights. This type of weight lifting machine can be adjusted to accommodate any body type. Adjust the weight bar so that it is level with the top of the shoulders. Adjust the bar stops on the weight lifting machine about six inches (15.24 cm) below the top of the shoulder. In the case of muscular failure, the bar won't drop to the ground.

Add the weights to the ends of the bar and secure them in place with end stops. These will prevent the weights from falling off the bar, should you tilt one end higher than the other. Adjust the height of the seat so that your thighs are parallel to the floor. Sit down and grasp the bar so that your hands are shoulder-width apart.

Lift the bar upwards enough that it is released from the machine stops. Lower the bar down in front of your chest so that it is even with the top of your shoulders. Next, slowly press the bar upwards until your arms are at a full extension, making sure not to lock them. Lower the bar back down until it is level with the top of your shoulders. Perform the desired amount of repetitions to complete your set, then return the bar to the machine stops.

The military press can also be performed using free weights. This makes the exercise easier to perform at home. Load the weight lifting bar with the desired amount of weight, making sure to use the end stops. Place the weight bar at your feet.

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Square off your hips and point your toes forward. Pick up the bar and hold it in front of your upper legs. Your hands should be positioned so that they are slightly more than shoulder-width apart, with your palms facing towards your body.

Inhale deeply while contracting your stomach muscles. Lift your arms, with the weight bar, above your head. Press your arms upwards so that they are fully extended. Pause at the top of the exercise, then slowly lower the bar down until it is level with the top of your shoulders. Repeat the military press until you have reached the desired number of repetitions to complete your set.

Besides exercising your deltoids, the military press is also efficient in tightening your abdominal muscles. If the abdominal muscles remain engaged throughout the exercise, it will strengthen the core of your body. This is true for most weight lifting exercises.

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