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4 Exercises You Aren’t Doing But Should (Part 2 of 4)

The Strict Press

            The strict press or more commonly known as the standing military press is usually a severely underutilized exercise. Seated military presses, dumbbell presses, and push presses are more likely to be seen than the strict press in most gyms. I have no doubt that the reason for its underutilization is because it is an extremely difficult exercise and is taxing on the entire body.  Although more weight can be performed while seated or with the use of the legs, the standing strict press position, without the help of the legs, is what makes this lift so beneficial. In my opinion, this is probably the most frustrating lift that I do. It is extremely difficult to progress with weight and I find that my performance varies more on this lift than any other. The strict press is commonly considered to be only a shoulder exercise, but go ahead and perform a heavy set, and you will see that your entire body is incorporated.  This exercise creates tension throughout the entire body and learning how to better use tension will benefit you on every other lift that you perform. This is also a great way to improve balance and core strength. When you think about the act of lifting heavy weight overhead multiple times without falling over it is hard to deny that you are improving your balance. It really doesn’t have to be more complicated than that. The strict press is also a great supplemental lift for the bench press because of the use of triceps in the overhead lockout.



1.         Start with the barbell in the rack  positioned at a height that is about even with your collarbone.

2.         Grip slightly wider than shoulder width while making sure your wrist and elbow joints are aligned.

3.         Un-rack the bar so that the starting point is your collarbone.

4.         Find a width between your feet that is comfortable. 

4.         Squeeze your glutes to set a good base and press the bar overhead. A major point is to keep the bar in a straight path close to your face both on   the ascent and descent.

5.         Lock out arms and push head through the “window” that the upright arms create.

6.         Return to the starting position.


Some aspects of the strict press will likely vary from person to person. When choosing your grip width make sure that your wrist and elbow joints are aligned.  Aligning your wrists and elbow should lead to a grip that is around shoulder width, but the exact width will vary slightly. Be sure not to allow your forearm to look as though it is leaning either inwards or outwards as this can lead to incorrectly performed reps and injury. Also, the width between your feet will likely vary. The tighter your feet are together, the easier it is to squeeze your glutes. However, a tight stance may also cause you to feel as though you do not have the secure base that a wider stance offers.  So with regards to foot width, find a happy medium that works for you.  While pressing the bar over your head, make sure to lockout your arms and push your head through the “window” that is made between your two arms and the barbell overhead.

 I make it a point to tell my athletes/clients to pause at the top instead of at the bottom. Pausing at your collarbone is a death sentence if you’re looking to rep out heavy weight. Lastly, try to breathe when the bar is locked out overhead. Take a breath in, filling your belly up with air, and hold it until the bar is back overhead. Breathing while the bar is moving will add to the instability that is already a major challenge in this lift. So go ahead and give the strict press a try. Let me know how you like it and be sure to check out the video below for a visual demonstration of this lift. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to this site so that you stay up to date on all the new articles coming soon! Thanks and enjoy!


Bill Marnich

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