Shoulder Exercises: Rocky Presses

Also known as the Bradford Press, Rocky Presses primarily target your shoulders, although your Triceps will get a good workout at the same time.

Rocky Presses are an ideal exercise for those starting out with lifting weights, as your back is supported by the back of the bench seat.

Rocky Presses or Bradford Press

Rocky Presses | Image:

For the purpose of this exercise, you will need a military bench press, and barbells of an appropriate weight for your level of expertise and strength.

As always, if you are unsure of your capabilities, or unsure of the exercise itself, start off with a low weight and build up to a heavier weight once you are feeling more confident. Try, if possible, to have another person present for safety reasons (use the buddy system).

How to do Rocky Presses

  1. Position yourself comfortably on the bench press, with your back up against the back of the seat and the bar at shoulder level. Hold the bar with your palms facing forward and your grip wider than shoulder width.
  2. Try to create an angle of 90 degrees between your forearm and upper arm as you lower the barbell.
  3. This will now become your starting position.
  4. Making sure that you hold the barbell in the correct position and with the correct grip, lift the bar up slowly over your head and lock your arms.
  5. While inhaling, lower the bar back down until it is positioned behind your head.
  6. While exhaling, lift the bar slowly back up to the starting position.
  7. Once again inhaling, slowly lower the bar back down until it is behind your head again.
  8. You have now completed one repetition.
  9. Repeat this movement for the required number of repetitions.

Pro Tip

We cannot stress the importance of breathing correctly while performing any kind of physical exercise, enough. Ensuring that you are breathing correctly will help you reach your fitness goals. If you aren’t breathing properly, you will find the exercise more difficult than it needs to be.

If you want to add more strain to your shoulder muscles, you can try raising the bar to a position slightly higher than your head, followed by slowly lowering it to the opposite side. This will add extra tension on your shoulders, while ensuring that your triceps’ involvement is kept to a minimum. This is a good idea if you are recovering from an injury or strain, and do not want to put added pressure on recovering muscles.


Another variation would be to alternate moves.

  1. From the starting position, as described above, hold the bar in the correct way.
  2. Lift the bar up slowly and lock your arms.
  3. Inhale while lowering the bar down to the back of your head.
  4. Exhale while raising the bar up again and lock your arms.
  5. Now exhale, and this time slowly lower the bar until it is front of your chest.
  6. Front and back are considered to be one repetition.

Yet another variation of the same exercise would be to perform it while in a standing position. This will increase the number of calories burnt.

As always, we hope you found these tips and advice on how to do Rocky Presses helpful. If you have tips of your own, we’d love to hear them in the comments below.

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