Hail Odin! How to Build Muscle Mass and Strength with The Viking Press

Take your upper body strength to the next level.

Welcome to the complete guide to the Viking Press.

What is the Viking Press?

The Viking Press is an overhead pressing movement, common in strong(wo)man competitions, that is growing in popularity in strength training in general.

The equipment is essentially a weighted lever that must be pressed upwards by gripping straight or parallel handles.

Think a landmine press with the fixed point much higher.

Viking Press Muscles Worked?

As an intense compound exercise, the Viking Press works all of the following muscle groups:


The movement is, at its heart, an overhead press. As a result, the deltoids will be significantly strengthened by adding it into your training.

The anterior deltoid works the hardest, with the other two playing supporting and stabilising roles.


The triceps are essential for locking out the exercise. In strongman competitions, if you don’t lockout, the rep doesn’t count.


The exercise is a full body movement and your core will have to work hard to balance your body and control power through the full range of motion.

Build a strong core with the Viking PressSource: Andre Taissin / Unsplash

The core is the collective group of muscles including the rectus abdominis, obliques, transverse abdominus, and erector spinae.


The Viking Press can be performed both strict or with a dip and drive from the legs.

The latter variation forces the legs to generate explosive power, which will strengthen them in the long run.  

Viking Press Benefits

The exercise has many great benefits

Build Strength

As a compound overhead pressing exercise, it is an excellent tool for building strength.

Develop Muscle

This exercise is hard and will push your limits. Perfect for shocking your body and stimulating hypertrophy.

Shoulder and Wrist Friendly

The neutral or parallel grip is easy going on the positions of the wrists and shoulders.

If you ever get uncomfortable pain from Strict Presses then substitute in the Viking Press.

Keep your Training Fun and Varied

As a relatively underused movement, it is a fun and challenging way to add something new and exciting into your training.

A Safe Exercise

If you fail a rep the lever will simply return to the stationary position. So, despite its intimidating appearance, it is in fact relatively safe to execute.


Pressing heavy weight overhead is a functional skill to learn. The benefits from the Viking Press will have huge carry over for other exercises and for your general physical preparedness.

Viking Press Drawbacks

So, what are the cons?

Not Often Available

The movement requires a specialised machine that can be difficult to find in regular gyms.

How to Perform the Viking Press (Strict)

Use the following instructions to complete the exercise with proper form.

  • Make sure to adjust the handles so that they sit slightly below shoulder height at rest
  • Grip the handles with your palms facing inwards
  • Position your body with your back straight, core tight and feet shoulder width apart
  • Inhale and brace your core, glutes, shoulders and grip
  • Use your legs to push the weight off the supports and into the starting position
  • Retract the shoulder blades back and down
  • Drive the weight upwards
  • Lockout at the top
  • Return the weight to the starting position and exhale
  • Repeat for the desired number of reps

Training Tip

For the grip, you can wrap your thumbs around the bar or use a thumbless grip, whichever feels better for you.

Viking Press Variations and Alternatives

If you don’t have access to the machine, or you want to try a slightly different stimulus, add these variations and alternatives into your training.

  1. Double barbell Viking press
  2. Neutral grip dumbbell shoulder press
  3. Push-press
  4. Javelin press
  5. Z press
  6. Shoulder press machine
  7. Trap bar overhead press
  8. Handstand push-ups

Learn More

Add these Standing Ab Exercises and Z Press into your training.


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