• Triangle CrossFit

The Strict Press: Importance and Execution

Updated: Jul 26, 2018

Written and demo'd by: Coach Brandon Nicholson

The shoulder press or strict press is fundamentally the primary movement in all overhead lifts. The purpose of the strict press is to isolate your shoulders by pushing weight from your torso to overhead, without using momentum by activating other joints of your body. With consistent, continuous training, the result is an increase in overhead strength and stability that will transition well to other overhead weightlifting movements.

More importantly, the overhead strength you will develop by training the strict press will translate to increased ability to move loads overhead; lifting items from the top shelf, moving equipment at work into storage, reaching and controlling that heavy serving platter from your tallest kitchen cabinet, and so much more.

Here are the points of performance for the strict press:

Set up

  1. Hip width stance: your feet should be inside the width of your shoulders.

  2. Hands just outside of shoulders: The width of your grip depends on the flexibility of your shoulders. Choose a hand position that is comfortable and allows you to rest the weight on your collar bones and the top of your shoulders.

  3. Bar rests on torso: The barbell should be in contact with your collar bones and resting on top of your shoulders.

  4. Elbows slightly forward: If your elbows are behind or directly under the bar, it will be difficult to get into the proper position to do the shoulder press.

  5. Full grip on the bar: Your thumbs should be wrapped around bar to decrease the risk of the weight slipping out of your hands while overhead. This also takes pressure off of your wrists.


  1. Maintain neutral spine and full knee extension: Squeeze your belly tight, stand up straight, keep your legs straight, and your eyes on the horizon.

  2. Heels remain in contact with the ground: Keeping your heels in contact with the ground will prevent you from using momentum throughout each repetition. This will also keep you from losing your balance and falling forward with the weight.

  3. Maintain straight bar path: Keep the bar over the middle of your foot by pressing directly overhead. Shift your head and neck to the rear (make a double chin) while pressing rather than moving the bar around your face. Once the bar passes your head, you may relax your neck by aligning your ears with your arms.

  4. Finish at full elbow extension overhead.

Are you or someone you know in need of improved shoulder and overhead strength? Come join us at Triangle CrossFit and work with a knowledgeable coach one-on-one or in a group to learn how to safely perform this essential strengthening movement!

Click here to schedule a time to meet with a coach and find a program that works for you!

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