How To: Seated Press

Why Keep It Strict?

The seated press is a great overhead accessory exercise for building pure shoulder strength – if you “keep it strict,” by avoiding layback, you work the pressing muscles directly.

So, what’s a layback? Most of us learn the standing press first as a very strict exercise, then progress to the “Press 2.0” – check out this video if the press is new to you. As a lifter gets more advanced at pressing, a layback is often introduced, which is most apparent in the Olympic press.

The problem with the Press 2.0 and/or using a layback to start the press is that it takes away the actual pure pressing the shoulder muscles are doing. Therefore, we use the seated press as a supplemental exercise because it removes the hips and the layback from the equation.

Strict, Yucky, Hard Overhead Press

Don’t these sound fun? You’ll thank us later. And if you haven’t tried the pin press yet, you really should!

Set up the seated press using the safety pins, instead of the j-hook on your squat rack. It’s easier to roll the bar into the correct position, which should be in line with your breast bone, or about 1-2 inches below your pressing start position.

Take the same grip as you would for your traditional overhead press, get the bar as close to your body as you can and unrack from the safety pins. Dig your feet into the floor and without laying back, press the bar up to the lockout.


If you do feel yourself laying back or falling backwards, you can place bumper plates in front of your feet, giving yourself something to push against. As you press the bar up, think about keeping your shoulders underneath the barbell. Get your shoulders underneath the barbell as quickly as you can.


If you have a lower body injury that’s prohibiting you from performing standing exercises, the seated press might be a perfect replacement for the time being. If you’re looking to program this as a supplemental exercise, the seated press fits well in a 4 day split schedule, following the main bench press.

Check out the full video above for more programming tips!



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