To continue our series of half rack beginner’s guides, we’re following up with one of the most effective upper body workouts you can add to your arsenal—the military press. In this blog, we’ll teach you how to perform this challenging but highly rewarding exercise.  

The barbell military press is a compound exercise that’s proven to strengthen your shoulder deltoids, triceps, upper back, and core all in one. By mastering the military press, you can build strength and muscle mass, reduce your risk of injury, and improve your posture and stability. Whether you're a fitness beginner or a highly competitive athlete, the military press is a highly versatile and effective workout that can become a staple in your routine. 

Master the Military Press at Asphalt Green

Setting Up for a Barbell Military Press on the Half Rack 

As with any exercise that uses the half rack, preparation will be key to your success. To begin, adjust the J-Cups to a height that aligns with your shoulders, allowing about 1-2 inches of clearance. Then, set the safety bars at an appropriate level to ensure safety during the exercise.

Once you feel comfortable with your barbell height, load the barbell with an appropriate weight for your fitness level, secure the plates with collars, and double check that the weight is evenly distributed on each side. If possible, find a workout partner to spot you for added safety. 

The Military Press: Step-by-Step Guide 

Step 1: Start Strong  

Position yourself under the barbell, allowing it to rest on the front of your shoulders. Grip the bar with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, stacking your elbows underneath your wrists. Brace your core, lift the bar off the J-Cups, and take a step or two back to clear the rack. 

 Step 2: Press to Sucess  

Initiate the movement by driving the barbell straight overhead. While doing so, keep your core tight and avoid leaning backward or arching your lower back. As the bar reaches the top, fully extend your arms. 

Step 3: Lower With Control 

Lower the barbell in a controlled manner and return to the starting position. Allow your elbows to slightly bend, maintaining tension in your shoulders and triceps throughout the movement. 

Step 4: Succeed and Repeat  

Repeat the movement for your desired number of reps. Once your set is complete, carefully rack the barbell back on the J-Cups.  

Enhance Your Workout: Additional Exercises for Upper Body Strength 

Combining the military press with just one or two more compound exercises can help you build a stellar upper body routine. Consider adding these exercises to elevate your upper body strength: 

  • Pull-Ups: This classic bodyweight exercise targets all the largest muscles in your back, including the latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, and traps. In addition, pull-ups activate your biceps as you propel your bodyweight upward toward the bar. Whether you're a beginner using assistance or an advanced lifter adding weight, pull-ups are one of the most versatile exercises and provide a scalable challenge for any fitness enthusiast.  
  • Lateral Raises: If you still have some shoulder energy left after the military press, lateral raises are a great complementary exercise. Lateral raises target the side deltoids by lifting dumbbells or other resistance laterally away from your body. Like the military press, lateral raises can help you build muscle while improving your posture and stability.

Ready to Elevate Your Workout? 

Now that you’re ready to master the military press on the half-rack, all that’s left to do is hit the gym!  If you're eager for more guidance or want to explore additional exercises, our expert personal trainers are here to help. Book a session at our Upper East Side or Battery Park City campus for personalized support tailored to your fitness goals. 

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In the coming weeks, stay tuned for more half-rack guides to polish your routine!