Is Your Shoulder Press Form Wrong?

shoulder press form

The shoulder press is a classic multi-joint exercise.

But most of us are using incorrect shoulder press form.


Over 60% of the men and women I’ve trained in the last decade make this mistake when pressing the bar overhead.

Worse still, most folks have no idea they are making this mistake.

Okay, perhaps I’m being my typically harsh self when I call it a “mistake..” it’s more of a lapse in judgement.

But ironing out this one common technique flaw will see your results soar when it comes to training your shoulders for a stronger, more defined pair of cannonball deltoids.

shoulder press form

The Pressing Issue

The shoulder press is a fantastic exercise for gaining strength and adding size to your frame.

Nail the technique, and you will notice a significant improvement in your results.

The big lapse in judgement I am speaking of here is grip placement.

As guys, we are naturally programmed to lift the bar with our “bench press grip” – i.e. hands placed out wide in the last third of each side of the bar.

This is holding back your results.

Instead, bring your grip in slightly so that you are inside your “bench press grip” but still outside shoulder-width.

This new placement will allow you to hit the muscle fibers within the front deltoids – our primary muscle on front-based pressing movements – with a much better angle to stimulate gains in both size and strength.

The wider grip most people are taking switches the focus to our outer delts – the lateral head – and diminishes involvement for the front delts.

Which is fine.

Except there are far superior exercises for isolating the lateral head of the shoulder if we want to, whereas military pressing is by far the best exercise for developing stronger front delts.

So it makes sense to play to it’s strengths.

shoulder press form

Shoulder Press Form Correction

So, you may be wondering “Well, Russ, how wide is too wide?”

Use my Rule of Thumb technique to get the right grip.

In the bottom position of the press, you should be able to reach out with your thumb and touch – or at  least get near to – your shoulders. If you can’t, you’re a little too wide.

If you can hit the technique described above, your forearms should be vertical in the bottom position. That’s perfect for overhead pressing movements.

If you come inside shoulder-width you’ll notice that the focus of the lift shifts massively to triceps – again, this is something we do not want, as there are far superior options for hitting triceps should we choose to do that.

Find the sweet spot in the middle.

shoulder press

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