Shoulder training is key for better performance in weightlifting, powerlifting, strongman, and competitive fitness sports. When determining which exercises to perform to build strength and muscle mass specific to sport specific movements, we must first understand the unique differences between commonly performed lifts. In this article, we compare the key similarities, differences, and benefits between the Klokov Press and Military Press.
The Klokov Press and the military press are two popular shoulder strengthening exercises seen in today’s training programs. Therefore, in this article we will discuss both of these shoulder exercises and breakdown the unique differences between them to assist coaches and athletes program more effectively.
In a previous article we discussed the Klokov Press and why it is so beneficial for Olympic weightlifters and overhead athletes. In the below video the Klokov Press is demonstrated.
The military press, also called the strict overhead press, can be done standing or seated. This exercise is done to target the shoulders. The below video demonstrates how to do the standing military press with a barbell.
Klokov Press vs Military Press
Both presses are seen in most accessory programs for Olympic weightlifters, functional fitness athletes, and even general shoulder and upper back hypertrophy programs. Below, we will discuss the important differences between the Klokov Press vs Military Press to assist coaches and athletes in exercise selection purposes.
Clean and Jerk Performance
When looking at how to directly impact the clean and jerk, the military press may have the slight edge over the Klokov Press. Due to the grip placement (jerk grip for the military press, and snatch grip for the Klokov Press, the jerk grip military press may have a better translation over to the jerk. That said, the Klokov Press can still develop upper trap and posterior shoulder strength/stabilization; however may be best for targeting the snatch positioning instead.
As discussed above, the Klokov Press is a great snatch assistance exercise to build shoulder strength and overhead stability in the specific patterning necessary for snatches. Unlike the strict press (which is pressed from the front and uses a jerk grip), the Klokov Press can also build scapular control and triceps strength in the exact angles of the snatch, making it a more direct accessory exercise.
Shoulder Strength and Hypertrophy
When looking at building stronger shoulders, we can target both the anterior and lateral deltoids, upper traps, and posterior shoulder muscles. For most lifters, the military press will be a key movement for building bigger, stronger shoulders. This exercise allows lifters to use more weight and stress the bigger muscles of the shoulders.
The Klokov Press does however offer us a great way to develop the posterior shoulder muscles and upper traps, which can be hard to overload at times (upright rows, face pulls, etc). For this reason, especially with Olympic weightlifters, the Klokov Press can also be done to develop a stronger posterior shoulder unit and improve overall symmetry of the shoulders.
When we look at the reasons why a strength, power, or fitness athlete needs greater overhead stability, we must also look at the specific movement patterns and joint angles that the athletes has/is expressing instability. Depending on the movement, both the Klokov Press and the military press can be options to improve shoulder stability (stability is a product of strength when done in a controlled manner). For lifters who lack overhead stability in the snatch, Klokov Presses could be a good accessory movement. For lifters failing to establish stability overhead in the jerk, or with unilateral movements, they could benefit from military presses and other shoulder stabilization exercises.
While overhead pressing can be risky for lifters who lack proper overhead mobility and control, the Klokov Press may initially pose greater stress to the shoulder joint. Due to the range of motion needed to press the barbell overhead from the back rack position, many lifters may lack proper scapular stabilization and posterior rotator cuff muscle strength and control necessary to handle even an empty barbell. When programmed correctly (and any shoulder mobility limitations addressed), both movements can be a part of a sound shoulder strengthening program.
Build Stronger Shoulders
Take a look below at our top shoulder strengthening exercises guides!
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