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Bored Of Military Presses? Military Press Alternatives

Isaac Syred
Writer and expert4 years ago
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The military press is a tried and tested exercise to build the shoulders and total upper body strength. It’s the go-to for shoulder development — with good reason. Not only does it work the shoulders it’s an amazing exercise for stabilising the core in key lifts 

You should always switch up your routine and exercise selection to avoid going stale and hitting a plateau. In the article below, we will be outlining just a few of the many shoulder exercises you can utilise to mimic the military press or otherwise compliment it in the gym. Give them a go and see what they bring to your workout.  

How to Military Press 

The military press is a simple and effective exercise. 
  1. You simply take the barbell from the rack, with your hands holding the bar at shoulder level. 
  2.  Engage your core to keep your body stable and press the weight overhead. It’s that simple.  


Arnold Press 

How to: 

  1. Sit on a bench and hold the dumbbells up at shoulder height - your palms should be facing towards you and not away as they are in a dumbbell press.  
  2. Press the dumbbells upwards and over your head whilst rotating your palms so that by the end of the press your palms are facing forwards.  
  3. The key to performing the Arnold press is correct rotation throughout the whole movement. Do not complete a full rotation of the palms at the start of the lift, but only when you’ve achieved full lockout.  

Recommend sets and reps: 

3 sets of 12 - 15 at a weight lighter than you would dumbbell press.  

Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press 

How to: 

  1. Sit on a bench and hold the dumbbells up at shoulder height with a pronated grip facing away from you.  
  2. Keep your feet flat on the ground for stability.  
  3. Press the dumbbells directly overhead in a controlled manner, being careful not to ‘knock’ the dumbbells together at the top end of the movement.  
  4. Lower the dumbbells back to shoulder level to complete the rep.  

Recommend sets and reps: 

4 sets of 6 - 8  

Machine Shoulder Press 

How to: 

  1. Sit in the machine and take hold of the handles.  
  2. Brace your core and plant your feet as you would any other shoulder movement.  
  3. Keep your back flat against the machine and press the handles overhead.  
  4. Return them to shoulder position to complete the rep.  

Recommend sets and reps: 

3 sets of 12 - 15 

Front Plate Raise 

How to: 

  1. With a firm grip on the sides, hold a plate you’re comfortable with and outstretch your arms directly in front of you.  
  2. Your arms must remain outstretched for the entire movement.  
  3. Lower the weight to your torso in a controlled manner and raise it again to shoulder level.  

Recommend sets and reps: 

3 sets of 20 reps - ensure the weight is light enough to perform multiple reps.  

Lateral Raise 

How to: 

  1. Hold a dumbbell in each hand by the top of your thighs and lean forward very slightly.  
  2. With your elbows slightly bent, use your deltoids to raise the weights wide and high to your sides - imagine you are stretching a band apart.  
  3. Once you hit shoulder level, return to the weights to the starting position to complete the rep.  

Recommend sets and reps: 

2 - 3 sets of 10 - 12  

Take-Home Message 

Almost all of the main shoulder movements involve pressing a weight overhead - there’s no getting around it. Lifting heavy objects skywards results in strong shoulders and it’s always been that way. You can switch up your routine by using dumbbells and machines to achieve this movement and finish up with some lateral or plate raises to really put the finishing touches on your workout.

You’ll find that the heavier you go with these pressing movements, the more crucial it is to perform those accessories that keep your shoulders healthy. So, the next time you need to switch up your shoulder workouts, follow the blueprint set out in this article and reap the benefits.  

Isaac Syred
Writer and expert
View Isaac Syred's profile

Isaac is a brand communications apprentice with a passion for all things fitness. He has always had a passion for football, playing at a high youth level and enjoying 4 years of competitive kickboxing. Over recent years Isaac has dedicated himself to continually improving in the gym, enjoying both functional fitness and bodybuilding styles of workouts. He strongly believes that you should always have balance and likes to spend his time at the weekends socialising with his friends.