The shoulder press is one of the nine foundational movements in CrossFit. It’s also known as the strict press or the overhead press. The shoulder press is called a “strict” press because you get no assistance or transference of momentum from your lower body when moving the bar overhead. However, the core and hips are still engaged as they create stability while pressing a load overhead.

Shoulder-Press-1-Rhapsody-FitnessPoints of Performance: The Shoulder Press

Just as the squat forms the foundation for more complex movements, the shoulder press is the first step in learning and refining overhead movements like the push press and push jerk. Practice these points of performance and you’ll not only build upper body strength, but you’ll also improve your technique for more advanced movements.

Starting Position

Stand with heels directly underneath hips and the barbell in the racked position. With a full grip on the bar, hands should be just outside the shoulders with elbows slightly in front of the bar.

Press Overhead

With the core tight and engaged, press the bar up and overhead until arms come to full extension. As the barbell travels upward, move the head back and out of the way.

Overhead Position

Arms are at full extension with the body tight and core engaged.

Return to Starting Position

Bend the elbows and return to the barbell to the racked position.

A Few More Tips

  • Keeping the core tight protects your spine. Avoid any overextension or tension in your low back by pulling your rib cage down.
  • The barbell path should move vertically and overhead from the racked position. To do this, pull your chin backward as the bar moves in front of your face.
  • Unlike the starting rack position for a front squat, the set-up for the shoulder press is with the elbows only slightly in front of the bar.

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