How to Overhead Press Correctly & Safely

 
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INTRODUCTION

The overhead press is a critical movement that strengthens and ingrains the ability to maintain a stable shoulder position when reaching overhead. This movement serves as a great pre-habilitation exercise to maintain healthy shoulders. It strengthens the shoulders and arm muscles while teaching core stability.

 

OVERHEAD PRESS FORM VIDEO

BENEFITS OF THE OVERHEAD PRESS

  • Teaches you to maintain a stable shoulder position when reaching overhead

  • Improves the mobility of the shoulder joint while encouraging the thoracic range of motion

  • Strengthens of all three heads of the shoulder muscles and triceps, while teaching core stability which improves lean muscle mass and fat burning

 

MUSCLES WORKED DURING THE OVERHEAD PRESS

  • Anterior Deltoids

  • Medial Deltoids

  • Triceps

  • Abs/Core

  • Glutes

 

PERFORMING THE OVERHEAD PRESS WITH GOOD TECHNIQUE

  • Approach a barbell that is set up in a power rack at the mid-chest (above the nipple) level

  • Alternatively, if you do not have a rack, you can pick up a barbell from the floor (this becomes difficult as the weight gets heavier)

  • Set your grip on the bar just outside of shoulder width with your thumbs wrapped around the bar 

  • Dive underneath the bar and position it on your anterior shoulder muscles with your elbows slightly in front of the bar when looking from the side

how-to-overhead-press-correctly
how-to-overhead-press-correctly

 

  • Stand up to the weight and take up to three steps back to position your feet just outside of shoulder width

how-to-overhead-press-correctly

 

  • Begin the movement by taking a big breath, holding it in and squeezing your glute muscles

  • This point is necessary to ensure spinal stability

  • Start pressing the weight overhead and tuck your chin back to avoid hitting it with the bar on the way up

  • Press the bar directly overhead in as straight a line as possible

  • Once the bar clears the top of your head, bring your head and thoracic spine forward to allow the bar path to continue straight directly over your midline

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  • We should be able to draw a straight line from the barbell down to the middle of your foot

  • Keep your glutes squeezed and core engaged the entire time

  • Reverse the movement by again tucking your chin to let the barbell travel in a straight line back down

  • Bring the weight all the way back down to your shoulders

 

 

COMMON OVERHEAD PRESS MISTAKES

PRESSING THE BAR IN FRONT OF YOUR BODY

  • Not pressing the bar directly over your midline places your shoulder joint in a compromised position and it does not adequately train all three shoulder heads

  • Check your starting position and press directly in a straight line

 

NOT KEEPING YOUR ELBOWS IN FRONT OF THE BAR

  • This mistake will automatically create the first mistake as well

  • This is a technical issue that will not allow you to apply a direct upward force on the barbell

  • Keeping your elbows back will increase the chance of the bar going out in front of you

 

EXCESSIVELY ARCHING THE BACK TO INITIATE THE MOVEMENT

  • This technical issue usually occurs when the weight is too heavy

  • Arching your back places a large strain on the lumbar spine increasing the risk of injury

  • Maintain your glutes squeezed throughout the movement and remain upright

NOT PERFORMING A FULL RANGE OF MOTION

  • Bring the barbell all the way down back to your anterior deltoid to activate all of the motor units of these large muscle groups


OVERHEAD PRESS VARIATIONS

  • Seated Overhead Press

  • Dumbbell Overhead Press (seated and standing)

  • High Incline Bench Press

  • High Incline Dumbbell Press