Overhead Press Exercise Guide

Reviewed by Valerie Zeller Valerie Zeller Printable version

Overhead Press is a strength exercise that works your triceps, deltoids, rear deltoids and upper pecs.

Overhead Press is a great easy move. When done correctly, it can effectively target your arms, chest, shoulders, upper body and upper chest.

It requires barbell to do.

Overhead Press

How to do Overhead Press


Standing upright with your feet at hip width, and legs straight, engage your glutes and brace your core whilst drawing your ribs in. Then make fists with your hands and take them up above your shoulders, with your elbows out to the sides and at shoulder height.

Keep your body braced whilst you press your hands up above your head until your arms are reaching straight above each shoulder. Then bend your elbows to bring your hands back to the start position and press back up to the top again, repeating for the duration of the exercise.

Common mistakes are leaning back during this exercise because your shoulders, pecs and lats maybe tight. This can put pressure in your lower back and should be avoided. Standing with your back against a wall is a way to force you to stay upright.

Illustrated Guide

Learn how to do overhead press from this step-by-step illustrations:

Overhead Press 1
Overhead Press 2
Overhead Press 3
Overhead Press 4

Muscles Worked

The muscles used for overhead press may change slightly based on the your trained range of motion and technique, but in the most general case, the muscles used for overhead press are:

Primary Muscles

  • Triceps
  • Deltoids
  • Rear Deltoids
  • Upper Pecs

Synergyst Muscles

  • Spinal Erectors

Frequently Asked Questions

What muscles does Overhead Press work?
Overhead Press works triceps, deltoids, rear deltoids, upper pecs.
What is Overhead Press good for?
Overhead Press is beneficial for conditioning, to build muscle, to gain weight, to grow and to strengthen. It works the best for arms, chest, shoulders, upper body and upper chest, as it works triceps, deltoids, rear deltoids, upper pecs. Overhead Pres is a great strength exercise for men, men over 50, women and women over 50.
Is Overhead Pres a good exercise?
Overhead Pres is a popular strength exercise for triceps, deltoids, rear deltoids, upper pecs.

Training, Progressions and Regressions

Interested in how to improve your Overhead Press faster?

Overhead Press Training and Progressions

Standards and Averages

Wonder how do others perform in Overhead Press and how should you?

Overhead Press Standards and Averages


Wonder how to work the same muscles with other exercises?

Overhead Press Alternatives


Wonder how to make Overhead Press either easier or more challenging?

Overhead Press Variations

Discover more


Type(s) Strength, Crossfit, Weightlifting
Muscles Worked Triceps Brachii, Deltoids, Erector Spinae, Lateral Deltoids, Pectoralis Major
Difficulty Level(s) Easy, Simple
Equipment Barbell
Location At Gym

Muscles Worked

Target muscle(s) Triceps, Deltoids, Rear Deltoids, Upper Pecs
Synergyst muscle(s) Spinal Erectors

Discover more