How To Do Shoulder Overhead Press

By: Chris Freytag, CPT

Chris Freytag demonstrating a Shoulder Overhead Press

Shoulder Overhead Press is an upper body move that uses dumbbells to help strengthen both your shoulders and your biceps for strong, beautiful arms!

If you learn how to do Shoulder Overhead Press you have one of the most tried and true standard strength training moves for strong, sculpted shoulders.

As you practice this exercise, start with lighter weights until you learn how to do a proper range of motion and use good form. In addition, be sure you are keeping your shoulders down while you push the weights up.

Once you think your form is good, start to add more weight. Eventually, you will want to use enough weight so that by the time you get to your 11th or 12th repetition, you are struggling to push that last time up! It should be hard.

This can be tricky – especially for women. One of the most misunderstood parts of weight training for women is how much weight they should use.

Many women are afraid if they use too much weight they will end up with big, bulky muscles. Not true.

Big bulky muscles come through lots of training, lots of calories and usually excess hormones. If you are eating healthy, keeping your body fat in check, and getting a well-rounded exercise program, using heavy weights will only help you succeed more quickly.

If you are lifting weights and it feels easy, you can be sure you are not really making any change in your body.

The Shoulder Overhead Press can be incorporated into your weekly strength routine in multiple ways.  Try it as a move on its own set in between a set of lunges and push-ups.

Or try the Stationary Lunge with Shoulder Press for a little multi-tasking that will help shoot your heart rate up to boot! Then check out our workout 7 Moves to Sculpt Your Back and Shoulders for another great workout plan!


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    How To Do A Shoulder Overhead Press

    Here are the steps to performing the Shoulder Overhead Press:

    1) Start with feet hip distance apart. Bring elbows out to the side creating a goal post position with arms, dumbbells are at the side of the head, and abdominals are tight.

    2) Press dumbbells slowly up until arms are straight. Slowly return to starting position with control. Repeat for desired number of reps.

    What Muscles Does Shoulder Overhead Press Work?

    Shoulder overhead press is a move that strengthens and sculpts your shoulder muscles! For strong, shapely shoulders you should try shoulder overhead press!

    Benefits of Shoulder Overhead Press

    There are many reasons you should incorporate shoulder overhead press into your workouts. Here are just a few:

    Strengthens Shoulders

    Shoulder overhead press is a great upper body move! This exercise will strengthen your shoulder muscle focusing especially on the medial deltoid, which is the part of the shoulder that can give it that beautiful shape!

    Strengthens Biceps

    Part of the pushing motion of the shoulder press involves the biceps as well. Shoulder overhead press does a great job of shaping not only your shoulder but sculpting your entire arm, particularly your biceps.

    Strengthens Core

    Shoulder overhead press focuses on your shoulders but for proper lifting technique, you need to pull your abs in and tighten your overall core in order to stand tall and steady.

    How Many Calories Does a Shoulder Overhead Press Burn?

    People often ask how many calories they are burning in their workouts. Most exercises will generally burn about 100 calories for every 10 minutes you are working at higher intensity.

    Bottom line – the harder you work, the more calories you burn. Shoulder overhead press builds muscle in your body, which makes for a better metabolism and higher calorie burn all day long.

    Other Exercises Similar to Shoulder Overhead Press

    If you like the shoulder overhead press and the results you get from it, here are a few more exercises you might want to try.

    How To Do Lateral Raise

    How To Do Shoulder Front Raise

    How To Do Chest Fly

    Incorporating Shoulder Overhead Press Into Your Workouts

    Shoulder overhead press is a great exercise to practice any time on its own. However, you could also incorporate it into other workouts to mix them up.

    Here are some ideas to make that happen.

    Use Shoulder Overhead Press In An Upper Body Challenge

    Love it or hate it, arm day works! Working all your upper body muscles can make for one intense training session. Use this workout as your arm day challenge.

    You’ll sculpt and shape your upper body. Keep working at it consistently and you’ll see a change in the shape of your upper body!

    Arm Day Workout: Try each exercise below for the number of repetitions listed with just a few seconds in between to rest.

    10 Overhead Shoulder Press

    10 Shoulder Lateral Raise

    10 Push Ups

    10 Renegade Rows

    10 Bicep Curl

    10 Tricep Extension

    Repeat one more time

    Use Shoulder Overhead Press in Your Full Body Strength Workout

    Even though arm day is powerful, getting a full body workout in one fell swoop is also a great idea. Not only do you make the most of your time, but you get your heart rate up as well.

    Take one workout and get it all done at once. This next workout gets it all done and includes shoulder overhead press as well as a bunch of other basic strength moves you’ll love.

    Full Body Strength Workout: Warm up for about 2-3 minutes then do between 10-15 of each of the following moves:

    Squat To Bicep Curl

    Shoulder Overhead Press

    Side To Side Squat Swing

    Plank To Upright Row

    Tricep Dips

    Plie V Raise

    Single Arm Row (10 each arm)

    Russian Twist

    Use Shoulder Overhead Press in a HIIT Workout

    You can easily incorporate shoulder overhead press into a HIIT workout that skyrockets the heart rate and targets the upper and lower body both! Check this out:

    HIIT Workout: Do each of the following moves for 30 seconds with no rest between moves. After completing all 4 moves, take a 30-second break and repeat. Go through the sequence 4 times.

    Squat Jumps

    Shoulder Overhead Press

    Split Jumps

    Plie V Raise


    Repeat 3 times

    Here are 3 more workouts to sculpt and shape your shoulders and upper body!

    5 Moves For Sexy Sculpted Shoulders

    Prenatal Arm Workout For Fit Pregnancy

    Anti-Aging Arm Routine

    Targets: shoulders, biceps, back


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