Hail to the Dinosaurs!
The military press is a majestic lift.
The lifter tightens his belt, chalks his hand and
approaches the bar.
He stands over it, eyes closed, concentrating
He opens his eyes, gets into position, sets
himself, and cleans the bar to his chest.
He stands tall and straight -- and then drives
the bar off his shoulders. There's no leg kick,
no hip thrust, no body drive and no back bend.
It's nothing but arm and shoulder power.
He hits the sticking point and drives twice as
hard as before. It's man against iron, and for
a second, no one knows who will win.
He pushes through -- and suddenly, the bar is
up and over his head. He holds it high, arms
locked, every muscle straining, as the crowd
And it's not just a magnificent lift. It's a
terrific muscle builder.
Back in the day, John Grimek was the best built
man in the entire world -- and one of the best
pressers in the world. He owed much of his upper
body, arm and shoulder development to the
military press. He set American and unofficial
World records in the press -- and you can see
why when you look at his photos. He had
cannonballs on top of his shoulders.
He also had triceps that looked like they
were carved from solid marble -- or that
he had borrowed them from a bronze
Grimek had a favorite assistance exercise for the
military press. So did most other lifters. Here are
the seven top assistance exercises for the press:
1. The Seated Military Press
A favorite exercise of John Grimek. Nuff said.
Do them strict. That's the whole point of the
2. The Two Dumbbell Press
All of the York lifters liked heavy dumbbell pressing.
Frank Spellman thought dumbbell presses were
the best way to bring up the press. He won the
Olympic gold medal in 1948, so that's gold medal
See Dinosaur Dumbbell Training and my Dinosaur
Dumbbell Training DVD for detailed instruction and
tons of useful training tips on dumbbell work:
3. The Incline press
This came into vogue in the 50's, and helped many
top lifters improve their press.
I used to do lots of pressing on an 80 degree
incline, and built some serious shoulder strength
doing it. I did the exercise in the power rack, and
set the pins so I could start from the bottom
position. I worked up to 320 pounds, which is
a lot of iron.
4. The Two Dumbbell Alternate Press
Also known as the see-saw press. Another John
Grimek favorite. He learned the exercise from
5. Handstand pushups
A favorite of many top pressers, including Sig
Klein, who set a professional World record in
the press, and Tony Terlazzo, who won the
Olympic gold medal in 1936. Even the big
men did them -- Paul Anderson and Doug
Hepburn both did plenty of handstand
See Dinosaur Bodyweight Training for tips
and progressions on handstand pushups:
6. Overhead lockouts in the power rack
The secret weapon of the York champions,
including John Grimek and John Davis. The
latter won six World championships and two
Olympic gold medals. See my power rack
training DVD for more ideas about how to
do heavy rack work for pressing power.
7. The bench press
John Davis, Doug Hepburn and Paul Anderson
all used the bench press to build strength and
power for the military press. Once again, nuff
Of course, you have to do strict benches to
have any carry-over to the military press. No
You now have seven terrific assistance exercises
to help build a world class military press. Have
fun with them -- and set some PR's in the press!
As always, thanks for reading and have a great
day. If you train today, make it a good one.
Yours in strength,
P.S. For more information about building a world
class military press, see The Dinosaur Training
Military Press and Shoulder Power Course. It's
available in your choice of hard-copy, PDF or
See the section for PDF courses at our
P.S. My other books and courses are right
here at Dino Headquarters -- along with links
to all of our Kindle e-books:
P.S. 3. Thought for the Day: "When you train,
train like a champion. Give every workout
everything you have." -- Brooks Kubik