By: J.V. Askem


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Feet together, like a soldier at attention. Push the bar straight
up using just arm and shoulder strength as the prime mover.
Do not lean back. Your back must remain straight.
The bar must keep moving upward. It can not stop.
Finish at a completed arms locked out position.

(Named after former American Heavyweight Champion Jim Bradford)
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Up and over, and then back again!!! Just press the bar to the top of your head.
Then slip it over and lower it behind your neck. Then press it back up and slip
it forward and down in front of your face to your original start position.

When performing any standing overhead press, it is best if the strictest form be used at all times. Now, although shown, it is not necessary to perform your presses with your feet together as illustrated. My main reason for showing this was to clarify why the lift was originally named "military" many years ago.

It is now exceptable to call any form of strict "standing" barbell press a military press (MP), but referring to any form of "seated" press as a "military" is not accurate.

Sets and reps of course are up to the individual on overhead presses. However, my preference when doing full strict military presses is to keep the reps low, in the 1 to 5 reps range, except for very light warm up sets. The reason being that your form will have a tendency to deteriorate as different muscle groups fatigue as you grind out more and more reps.


Before doing any heavy MP's one's shoulders should be warmed up thoroughly. At least one set of at least 10 reps with a light weight should precede your main pressing schedule. Another excellent warm up pressing movement for your shoulders is the Bradford press. My preference on Bradford presses is to do 1 to 2 sets of 20 reps before continuing on to MP's.


(1) 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 then add a single on each subsequent workout until you're up to 5 singles. When you can get 5 good singles with a specific weight, then increase the weight in the next workout.

(2) 5 to 6 Sets of 5 reps with a "three/ two" combination! Here you press strict for 3 reps, then you perform 2 push presses (PP's) with a knee kick, for 5 reps total. On the 5th or 6th set, 3 reps max should be performed on the MP portion of the set. Now, if you only get 1 or 2 MP's on the set, you still should finish the set, doing 3 to 4 PP's for 5 reps total. When you can get 3 MP's and 2 PP's try adding a little weight your next workout.

NOTE: For safety it is recommended that a bench seat
with a solid upright back rest be used for this exercise.
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1. Set the barbell in front of you, on racks slightly higher than your shoulders. 2. Lean forward, grasp the bar, and lift it off of the racks. NOTE: A power rack or a CBS could also be used. 3. Sit back against the bench's upright back rest. NOTE: If the back rest is higher than your head, you will have to turn your head to one side or the other when pressing, so as not to hit yourself in the chin or nose! This is a must because the bar must be pressed straight upward. 4. Finish at the completed arms locked out position. The upper part of your arms should be right beside your ears, not forward of your head.

NOTE: For safety, spotters are recommended on this exercise.
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1. Set the barbell on racks slightly above your head and behind you. With a slightly wider than shoulder grip, ease the bar up just off of the racks and lower it slowly behind your neck. NOTE: It's best to have a spotter or spotters to help you lift the bar off, because you will be lifting off blind. 2. Lower the bar and stop about even with the bottom of your ears. 3. Press straight up, but DO NOT lock out completely at the top. 4. Lower the bar to about even with the bottom of your ears again. 5. After completing the last rep, do not lower the bar all the way down, but rather just to the racks. Once again, it is recommended that a spotter or spotters assist you in placing the bar back on the racks.

Seated versions of overhead presses are much stricter because any chances of back bend and knee kick are eliminated. Thus more versatile set/ rep schemes can be used more effectively! My preference on the two illustrated above exercises is the seated press on the "front side" mainly because of safety!

Regarding the "behind the neck" press (BNP), which really should probably be termed the "behind the head" press! These can also be done standing. However, I would recommend that one start with bar on pins or stands set at about the level of your lower ear height, rather than pressing right off of the rear deltoids.

BNP's are a good standby for individuals with arm flexibility problems! Usually individuals with large arm girths favor this exercise because holding the bar on the front side is too uncomfortable for them.

BNP's if used frequently are best done with higher reps, "bodybuilding" style. Sets of 8 to 10 reps done strictly should not cause problems. Both BN and front presses also work well alternated in "super set" style with French presses for the triceps. In fact this is a good approach to use on your light pressing day! Two pressing workouts per week generally work well, usually one light and one medium to heavy.

BNP's have been known to cause shoulder problems with some individuals, and it's my belief that this is caused by one or a combination of several things! First, lowering the bar too far down with the bar too far back. Second, having too wide of a grip! And finally, squeezing a full lockout at the top when the bar is too far back. This is not the case with everyone, but if you've suffered problems with this exercise analyze the form that you've used.