Bradford Press Exercise: How To Do, Muscles Worked & Tips

Dr. Susan Evans
bradford press

The Bradford Press combines two exercises: Behind the Neck Press and Military Press. Both these exercises contribute to the development of the muscles of the shoulder girdle and the Bradford Press is no exception. Let’s go into more detail.

Who is James Bradford?

James Bradford is an American weightlifter who was a member of the York Barbell Club. He won the National Junior Championship in 1950. James became the US heavyweight champion in 1960 and 1961. He also took part in the World Championships several times, and became the four-time silver medalist. Bradford won silver medals at the Olympic Games in Helsinki (1952) and Rome (1960). He also invented an exercise that is named after him.

What Muscles Does The Bradford Press Work?

This exercise is aimed at working the deltoid muscles. The Bradford Press engages all three bundles of the deltoid muscles, which is a great benefit.

The three-headed muscles of the arm (triceps) can also be worked when performing the exercise, but their inclusion depends on how much you straighten your elbows at the top point. More details to follow below.

bradford press exercise

How To Do The Bradford Press?

The Bradford Press can be performed both standing or sitting. Let’s consider the option of performing the exercise while sitting on a bench with a vertical (or slightly inclined) back.

  1. Starting position: Take the barbell with a straight grip. Place the neck at shoulder level. The grip should be wide enough so that the palms are wider than the shoulders. The legs rest on the floor and are located shoulder-width apart. Take a breath.
  2. As you exhale, lift the barbell over your head.
  3. Next, slowly and under control, lower the bar behind your head (approximately at the base of the neck) and take a breath.
  4. As you exhale, lift the barbell over your head again.
  5. Lower the bar to the starting position. This is one repetition.
  6. Do the required number of repetitions.

You can also engage the triceps to a greater or lesser extent during this exercise. The more you straighten your arms at the top point, the more you load the tricep muscle.

Please note that the opposite is also true; If you do not straighten your arms completely, then more tension will remain in your shoulders, and the triceps will be slightly relieved.

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Do not chase heavy weight while mastering the exercise. Start with a lighter weight than the classic press and only then gradually increase it.

You must first do a warm-up. Be aware and look out for any discomfort in the shoulder joints, since the joints in such exercises are the most vulnerable.


The Bradford Press is an old and rare shoulder exercise. It is designed to gain muscle mass and increase the strength of the shoulder girdle. It makes sense to use it for an accentuated training of the anterior deltoid muscle. You can also use the Bradford Press at the end of your shoulder workout to maximize muscle depletion.

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