• Exercise 101: Military Press Using Free Weights

    large image for military press
    Name of Exercise—Free weight military press
    Type of Exercise—Multi-joint
    Muscles Used—Shoulders and arms

    Starting Position

    • Sit down on a vertical shoulder press bench.
    • Lean your back against the bench, keeping your feet on the floor with your buttocks, back, shoulders, and head on the bench during the entire exercise (this position is known as five-point contact).
    • Grasp the bar with an overhand grip, with hands slightly more than shoulder-width apart.
    • Push the bar upward until your elbows are fully extended and the bar is over your head.
    • Use a spotter if necessary, and have the spotter help lift the bar.

    Downward Movement

    • Slowly lower the bar toward your head and extend your neck forward so that the bar can pass behind your head.
    • Inhale while lowering the weight toward your shoulders.
    • Keep your wrists directly above your elbows.
    • Maintain five-point contact during the movement.

    Upward Movement

    • Push the bar upward until your elbows are fully extended and the bar is over your head.
    • Exhale while pushing the weight upward.
    • Maintain five-point contact.
    • Use the spotter for assistance, if necessary.

    Trainer Tip

    As you press the bar overhead, remember to move your head forward to ensure proper positioning of the arms upon completion of the motion. The goal is to have your arms in line with your ears once your arms are fully extended.

    Repetitions, Sets, and Weight:

    The number of repetitions (reps) and sets you should do depends on your strength goals. In general, muscle strength works to increase basic function of the muscle and is the typical workout choice. Muscle endurance is important to people who participate in endurance activities such as running or biking, and muscle power is beneficial for athletes who need to use sudden quick movements (eg, sprinting, basketball, football). Beginners should begin with a basic routine and gradually move toward a strength, endurance, or power routine.
    Beginner: 1 set of 8 to 10 reps
    Muscle Strength: 1 to 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps
    Muscle Endurance: 1 to 3 sets of 15 to 20 reps
    Muscle Power: 1 to 3 sets of 3 to 5 reps
    Use a weight that is heavy enough to perform the desired number of reps and sets for your skill level using good form. Once you are able to perform more reps and sets than is outlined in your category, try to increase the weight you lift by 5% to 10%. Your strength goals may change as you progress.


    American College of Sports Medicine http://www.acsm.org

    American Council on Exercise http://www.acefitness.org/


    Canadian Society of Exercise Physiology www.csep.ca/

    Healthy Living Unit http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/pau-uap/fitness/


    Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning. 2nd ed. Human Kinetics; 2000.

    News and Publications. American College of Sports Medicine Website. Available at: http://www.acsm.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Brochures2&Template=/CM/ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentID=8144 . Accessed January 17, 2008.

  • LiveWell personal health survey

    How healthy are you really? Find out – free.Learn more

    It's time to stop guessing. If you want to make some changes but just aren't sure how, the free personal health survey from LiveWell is a great place to start.

  • HeartSHAPE Spotlight

    At risk for a heart attack? Learn more

    Fight heart disease and prevent heart attacks. HeartSHAPE® is a painless, non-invasive test that checks pictures of your heart for early-stage coronary disease.

  • Calories and Energy Needs

    Calorie NeedsLearn more

    How many calories do you need to eat each day to maintain your weight and fuel your physical activity? Enter a few of your stats into this calculator to find out.

  • Ideal Body Weight

    Ideal Body WeightLearn more

    Using body mass index as a reference, this calculator determines your ideal body weight range. All you need to do is enter your height.

  • Body Mass Index

    Body Mass IndexLearn more

    This tool considers your height and weight to assess your weight status.

  • Can we help answer your questions?

    Wellmont Nurse Connection is your resource for valuable health information any time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Speak to a Nurse any time, day or night, at (423) 723-6877 or toll-free at 1-877-230-NURSE.