What is a Press in Weightlifting


If you’re new to weightlifting, you may have heard the term “press” thrown around without fully understanding what it means. Simply put, a weightlifting press refers to lifting a weight overhead from shoulder height.

There are several variations of the press, including the strict press, push press, and jerk, each with its own unique techniques and benefits.

Inserting presses into your workout routine can help improve your upper body strength and overall fitness.

By understanding the different variations and techniques of the press, you can tailor your workouts to meet your specific goals and needs.

What is A Press?

A press is a weightlifting exercise that involves lifting a barbell or dumbbell from the shoulders to an overhead position. This exercise is performed by extending the arms and pushing the weight upwards until the arms are fully extended. The press is commonly used in weightlifting competitions and is a fundamental exercise in strength training.

To perform a press, you start by gripping the barbell or dumbbell with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. You then lift the weight up to your shoulders and hold it there.

From this position, you push the weight upwards until your arms are fully extended. You then lower the weight to your shoulders and repeat the exercise for your required number of repetitions.

The press can be performed in various ways, including strict press, push press, and jerk. The strict press is performed without any assistance from the legs, while the push press and jerk involve using the legs to generate additional power and momentum.

In summary, the press is a fundamental weightlifting exercise that requires lifting a weight from the shoulders to an overhead position. It has a variety of ways and is an essential exercise for developing the upper body strength and power.

Types of Presses

There are three main types of presses: bench, overhead, and incline presses.

Bench Press

The bench press targets the muscles in your chest, shoulders, and triceps. To perform the exercise, lie on a bench with your feet flat on the floor and hold the bar with both hands shoulder-width apart.

Lower the bar to your chest, take a breath, then push it back up to the starting position. This is also performable with a barbell or dumbbell, and variations include the incline bench press and decline bench press.

Overhead Press

The overhead press, also called the military press, is a compound exercise that builds up the shoulders, triceps, and upper back. To do this, you stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold the bar with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.

Lift the bar to your shoulders and press it overhead until your arms are fully extended. After that, lower the bar back to your shoulders and repeat.

Incline Press

The incline press targets the upper chest and shoulders. To perform the exercise, lie on an incline bench with your feet flush on the floor and hold the bar with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.


Lower the bar to your upper chest and press it back to the starting position. The incline press can also be performed with dumbbells or a machine.

These three types of presses are essential exercises that can help you build upper body strength and muscle mass. Incorporate them into your weightlifting routine for maximum results.

Muscles Worked During a Press

When performing a press in weightlifting, you engage several muscle groups in your upper body. The primary muscles worked during a press are:

  • Deltoids: The deltoids, or shoulder muscles, lift the weight overhead.
  • Triceps: The triceps muscles on the back of the upper arm assist the deltoids in extending the arms.
  • Pectoralis Major: The pectoralis major, or chest muscles, help stabilize the shoulder joint during the press.

In addition to these primary muscles, several other muscles in the upper body also play a role in the press:

  • Trapezius: The trapezius muscles in the upper back help stabilize the shoulder blades during the press.
  • Rhomboids: The rhomboid muscles, located between the shoulder blades, also help stabilize the shoulder blades.
  • Biceps: The biceps muscles lies on the anterior segment of the upper arm and assist the triceps in extending the arms.

Benefits of Pressing

Pressing while weightlifting does bring some benefits to you. Here are some you can expect:

Increased Upper Body Strength

Pressing is a compound exercise that engages multiple muscle groups in the upper body, including the chest, shoulders, triceps, and upper back.

By performing pressing movements regularly, you can increase your upper body strength, which will help you lift heavier weights and improve your overall athletic performance.

Improved Posture

Pressing exercises require you to maintain proper form and posture throughout the movement. This means keeping your chest up, shoulders back, and core tight.

By practicing this posture during pressing exercises, you can improve your overall posture, reducing the risk of injury and improving your overall quality of life.

Enhanced Athletic Performance

Pressing exercises are essential for athletes who need to generate power and explosiveness in their upper body. By improving your upper body strength and posture through pressing movements, you can enhance your athletic performance in sports such as basketball, football, and volleyball.

Pressing is essential for anyone looking to improve their upper body strength, posture, and athletic performance. You can achieve these benefits by incorporating pressing movements into your workout routine.

How to Properly Perform a Press

While bench pressing, the top priority is always safety. Here is how to properly perform a press.

Set-Up and Grip

To properly perform a press, start by setting up with your feet shoulder-width apart and your toes pointing forward. Hold the bar with your arms shoulder-width apart, keeping your wrists straight and your elbows pointing down. Ensure the bar rests on the meaty part of your shoulders, and your chest is up.

Breathing Technique

Before you lift the bar, take a deep breath and hold it. This will help you maintain core stability and keep your body tight throughout the lift. Exhale forcefully as you press the bar overhead, and then take another deep breath before lowering the bar back down to your shoulders.



To execute the press, push the bar up and overhead in a straight line, keeping your elbows locked out at the top. As you press the bar, focus on keeping your core tight and your body straight.

Avoid leaning back or arching your back excessively, as this can stress your lower back unnecessarily. Gently lower the bar back down to your shoulders with control, and repeat for the desired reps.

To properly perform a press in weightlifting, start by setting up with a shoulder-width grip and taking a deep breath. Push the bar overhead straight, focusing on core stability and avoiding excessive back arching. Lower the bar slowly back to your shoulders with control, and repeat for the desired reps.

Common Mistakes When Pressing

Here are some common mistakes that rookies make while pressing.

Arching the Back

When pressing, arching your back to lift more weight is common. However, this puts unnecessary strain on your lower back and can lead to injury. Core engaged and back straight: that’s how you move.

Not Using Full Range of Motion

Another common mistake is not using the full range of motion during the press. This can limit your gains and lead to muscle imbalances. Make sure to lower the barbell all the way down to your chest and extend your arms fully at the top of the movement.

Lifting Too Heavy

Lifting too heavy is a surefire way to compromise your form and increase your risk of injury. Start with a bearable weight and focus on proper technique. Only increase the weight as you grow stronger.

Remember, proper form is key. Avoid these common mistakes, and you can maximize your gains and minimize your risk of injury.


The press is a compound exercise that targets multiple muscle groups, including the shoulders, triceps, and chest. There are several variations of the press, such as the overhead press, bench press, and incline press, each with its unique benefits and challenges.

Understanding what a press is in weightlifting is crucial to improving your technique and performance. You can enhance your strength, power, and explosiveness by mastering the different types of presses.

Proper form and technique are essential to performing the press safely and effectively. Be sure to maintain a neutral spine, engage your core, and use a full range of motion.

Remember, the press is just one aspect of weightlifting, and it should be incorporated into a well-rounded training program that includes other exercises, such as squats, deadlifts, and rows. By following these tips and practicing consistently, you can take your weightlifting to the next level and achieve your fitness goals.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a press in weightlifting?

A press is a weightlifting exercise that involves lifting a barbell or dumbbell from shoulder level to an overhead position. In weightlifting, there are three types of presses: strict press, push press and push jerk.

The strict press involves lifting the weight with only the strength of your upper body, while the push press and push jerk involve using your legs to help lift the weight.

What muscles does the press work?

The press primarily works the shoulders, triceps, and upper back muscles. It also engages the core muscles to help stabilize your body during the lift.

What are the benefits of doing presses?

Presses are an excellent exercise for building upper body strength, particularly in the shoulders and triceps. They also help improve shoulder stability and mobility, reducing the risk of injury in other exercises.

Additionally, presses can help improve overall athletic performance, as they require strength, power, and control.

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