The press is the oldest barbell exercise in the gym. As with many old things, its value often goes underappreciated.
Picking up a weight and pushing it overhead is so basic a movement that one suspects some sort of DNA-type explanation for it. Children can be observed doing this to show off for their buddies. Preliterate civili- zations in Borneo probably have a name for picking up logs from endangered rain forest trees and then putting them overhead, completely unaware of the threat this poses to the planet. I’m quite sure the first thing ever done with a barbell was a standing press, because it is the logical thing to do with a barbell.
Fifty years ago, if a fellow physical culturist wanted to know how strong you were, the question would have been, “How much can you press?” It was reckoned that a man should be able to press his bodyweight. Since not many women had at that time figured out they weren’t going to get big ol’ ugly muscles from lifting weights (Abbye “Pudgy” Stockton being a very important and gorgeous exception), these ancient people would probably not have known that a woman should be able to press two thirds of her body weight. Of course these numbers can apply only to people who actually train the lift. Most people don’t. They bench press instead.