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Seated Barbell Shoulder Press 101 Video Tutorial

Gym Main Variation Strength


Seated Barbell Shoulder Press
Seated Barbell Shoulder Press

Exercise Synopsis

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The Seated Barbell Shoulder Press is a compound strength-training exercise designed to target the muscles of the shoulders while engaging secondary muscle groups such as the traps and triceps. Executed in a seated position, individuals lift a barbell from shoulder height to overhead, pressing it vertically. This movement places emphasis on developing the deltoid muscles, contributing to shoulder strength and definition. The seated position provides stability, reducing the risk of lower back strain common in standing variations. With the barbell as the required equipment, this exercise allows for progressive resistance, enabling individuals to adjust the weight according to their fitness levels. Incorporating the Seated Barbell Shoulder Press into a workout routine promotes balanced shoulder development and enhances overall upper body strength.

How to Perform

  1. Set the barbell to a position just below shoulder height while standing, and load your preferred weight onto the bar, ensuring it is secured in place before starting the exercise.

  2. Position an adjustable bench beneath the bar in an upright configuration, providing a stable and supportive foundation for the seated Barbell Shoulder Press.

  3. Sit down on the bench and grasp the barbell with a pronated grip, making necessary adjustments to hand placement based on comfort and individual biomechanics.

  4. Inhale deeply, brace your core, and tuck your chin, creating a stable base for the lift. Lower the barbell in a controlled manner until it reaches the top of your chest, allowing for a full range of motion and effective engagement of the shoulder muscles.

  5. Exhale forcefully as you press the barbell back up to a lockout position, fully extending the arms. This phase of the movement activates the shoulder muscles, emphasizing strength and development.

  6. Repeat the Seated Barbell Shoulder Press for the desired number of repetitions, maintaining proper form and controlled movements throughout each phase of the exercise.


  1. Stand tall and maintain an extended posture at the top of the Seated Barbell Shoulder Press, focusing on achieving a full range of motion without the need to overly retract or pack the shoulders down and back.

  2. Allow the elbows to naturally rotate and point outward when reaching the apex of the movement, but ensure a controlled tucking of the elbows close to the ribcage at the bottom to optimize shoulder engagement.

  3. Pay attention to wrist control, actively preventing the bar from rolling into extension. Visualize "rolling your knuckles toward the ceiling" to enhance stability and maintain proper form during the exercise.

  4. Engage your core by bracing your abdominal muscles as you press the bar, avoiding excessive leaning backward and promoting stability throughout the movement.

  5. Visualize an elevated gaze as if looking out a window at the top of the lift, ensuring that your ears align with your biceps. This encourages proper head and neck positioning, minimizing unnecessary strain.

  6. If you experience discomfort in the shoulders during the exercise, consider experimenting with a wider grip or exploring alternative vertical pressing progressions suggested on relevant fitness resources to find a grip width that suits your individual comfort and biomechanics.

How Not to Perform

  1. Avoid Leaning Back Excessively:

    Steer clear of leaning back excessively during the Seated Barbell Shoulder Press. Maintaining an upright position ensures the primary focus remains on the shoulders, preventing unnecessary strain on the lower back.

  2. Refrain from Using Momentum:

    Avoid using momentum to lift the barbell. Jerky or rapid movements compromise the effectiveness of the exercise and increase the risk of injuries. Emphasize a controlled and deliberate pace throughout the entire range of motion.

  3. Do Not Neglect Wrist Control:

    Refrain from neglecting wrist control. Prevent the barbell from rolling into extension, as this can place undue stress on the wrists and detract from targeted shoulder engagement. Maintain a firm grip with proper knuckle alignment.

  4. Steer Clear of Overarching the Neck:

    Avoid overarching the neck during the press. Maintain a neutral head position, and do not crane the neck forward excessively. This prevents unnecessary strain on the cervical spine and ensures optimal shoulder muscle activation.

  5. Prevent Elbows from Flaring Out:

    Steer clear of allowing the elbows to flare out excessively during the upward phase of the press. Ensure controlled movement and keep the elbows in alignment with the wrists to effectively target the shoulders and minimize stress on the triceps.

  6. Avoid Neglecting Core Engagement:

    Refrain from neglecting core engagement. Brace your abs throughout the exercise to provide stability and prevent excessive leaning or swaying. A stable core enhances overall form and maximizes the effectiveness of the shoulder press.

  7. Do Not Rush the Descent Phase:

    Prevent rushing through the descent phase of the exercise. Lower the barbell in a controlled manner to maximize muscle engagement and reduce the risk of injuries. Resist the temptation to let gravity take over.

  8. Avoid Excessive Grip Width:

    Steer clear of using an excessively wide or narrow grip on the barbell. Find a grip width that suits your comfort and biomechanics to optimize shoulder targeting and prevent unnecessary strain on the joints.


Variations of fitness exercises refer to different ways of performing a specific exercise or movement to target various muscle groups, intensities, or goals. These variations aim to challenge the body differently, prevent plateaus, and cater to individuals with varying fitness levels.


Alternative exercises in fitness refer to different movements or activities that target similar muscle groups or serve the same training purpose as the primary exercise. These alternative exercises can be used as substitutes when the original exercise is unavailable or challenging to perform due to various reasons such as equipment limitations, injuries, or personal preferences.