How The Seated Barbell Press Improves Overhead Power

seated barbell press

Improve overhead pressing with the seated barbell press.

We would all love to beef up our overhead pressing power and what better exercise than the seated barbell press to help make that happen. A great exercise for building strength and overhead pushing power, this exercise is what you need to see great gains on those upper body days. A perfect exercise to work your shoulders, or the right one to add to a full body workout, the benefits of the seated barbell press are hard. We’ll dive into this and much more so you can see just how great this overhead pressing movement is.

Why this exercise truly matters is for both functionality and sport specific movements. Many sports especially rely on those strong shoulders to add stability and give you better strength for that respective sport. Functionally, we use our shoulders every day and while we may not be overhead pressing objects on a daily basis, having the muscles and tools to build upon can benefit you greatly.

Let’s jump into the seated barbell press and see what makes this exercise so great. From what it is, to what muscles get worked, the many benefits, and how to perform it, we will also share some variations and the best exercises to pair it with. By the end, you will have all the knowledge you need to better tackle those shoulder and upper body days to only see great results for that overhead pressing power.

seated barbell press

What Is The Seated Barbell Press?

The seated barbell press is a great compound exercise to build muscle and strength. As a seriously effective muscle builder, this exercise is not for those with limited shoulder mobility for it will only continue to build deltoid development, but in this case, in the wrong way. A beginner level exercise, this is the perfect compound movement to add to your upper body and shoulder day routine and greatly increase strength for all things shoulder gains. Overall, what you will find is a great exercise to advance all pushing power, overhead strength, and great shoulder development (1).

Muscle Worked

For the seated barbell press, the muscles that are primarily worked are your shoulders. It is important to stretch pre- and post-workout for your shoulders are sensitive joints and you don’t want any pain to interfere with getting a great workout. Other muscles that will feel work done are your traps and triceps, giving you a great burn in these muscles as an added bonus.

seated barbell press

Benefits Of The Seated Barbell Press

The benefits of this exercise are hard to ignore for it can seriously work for strength while building overall better shoulder development. With the right approach to all things gains, and better working to tackle stability, this exercise is one to give you the best when looking to optimize your shoulder day routine.

Benefits of the seated barbell press include:

  • Increased shoulder strength: Increase shoulder strength by working those muscles to grow with a seriously effective muscle builder.
  • Better overall shoulder development: As a result of the added growth, your shoulders will round out and have a more full look and feel, thus aiding in better overall shoulder development.
  • Wrist stability and grip: Build wrist stability and grip by allowing yourself to be challenged with the movement of this exercise (2).
  • Extra work done in your triceps and traps: Get some extra work done for your traps and triceps as these are secondary muscles worked.
  • Enhance overhead pressing power: Boost your overhead pressing power with this effective pressing movement to give you the best when it comes to all things pressing and power (3).
  • Boost shoulder stability: By strengthening your shoulders, you work to build better stability for other movements, either functional or sport specific (4).
  • Many variations: This exercise has plenty of variations to challenge you and diversify your workout.

How To Perform It

Here are the steps for performing the seated barbell press:

  1. Set your desired amount of weight on the barbell after you position it to about shoulder height.
  2. Sitting on the bench, make sure your feet are firmly planted and your core is engaged. When ready, lift the bar off the rack.
  3. As you begin the movement, lower the bar gently until the bar is in front of your face. To begin the lift portion, drive the barbell overhead, giving a good squeeze at the top.
  4. Continue with the movement for additional reps or re-rack the bar for a break before continuing.
  5. Repeat the exercise for your desired number of sets and reps.


Seated Barbell Press Variations

While the seated barbell press is a great exercise, we wanted to also share some alternatives to shake up your workout and add nice variety to whatever you need. Challenging your muscles differently and working with similar exercises can only enhance your growth and keep your workouts from going stale.

Variations of the seated barbell press include:

  • Z Press
  • Thrusters
  • Pin Press
  • Overhead Press With Resistance Bands
  • Seated Dumbbell Press
  • Seated Kettlebell Press
  • Arnold Press

Best Exercises To Pair With The Seated Barbell Press

When it comes to building those boulder shoulders, there are some great exercises to pair with during your shoulder routine. Building our shoulders can seem challenging but it is important we find the right stability and strength in our shoulders to maximize our gains and keep us physically healthy. Working with the Arnold press or Viking press are awesome ways to boost growth, as well as more simple shoulder exercises like the front raise, lateral raise, and upright row.

Wrap Up

The seated barbell press is a great shoulder building exercise to boost all things gains. With many benefits and variations, you can get so much out of this effective muscle building exercise for whatever you seek. Give this exercise a try and see what it can do for you today.

Let us know what you think in the comments below. Also, be sure to follow Generation Iron on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. 

*Images courtesy of Envato


  1. Waller, M.; et al. (2009). “Overhead Pressing Power/Strength Movements”. (source)
  2. Lee, J.; et al. (2016). “The Effect of Wrist Position on Grip Endurance and Grip Strength”. (source)
  3. Sarabia, J.; et al. (2017). “The effects of training with loads that maximize power output and individualized repetitions vs. traditional power training”. (source)
  4. Williams, M.; et al. (2020). “Activity of Shoulder Stabilizers and Prime Movers During an Unstable Overhead Press”. (source)
Austin Letorney
Austin Letorney is a writer, actor, and fitness enthusiast. As a former rower, he has shifted his focus to sharing his knowledge of the fitness world and strength sports with others.