3 Barbell Overhead Press Alternative Exercises For Your Shoulders

When it comes to packing size up to your shoulders, there are a myriad of exercises to help you reach your goal. So why do you still rely on the old-fashioned, overrated dumbbell overhead press?

Sure, the dumbbell overhead press allows you to work with heavy loads for your shoulder workout, which is great, especially if you’re an Olympic lifter, CrossFitter, or strong athlete who is burdened with overhead dumbbell moves in your sport. But if competition isn’t your goal, the move probably isn’t worth the risk of injury to your shoulder joints or the extra time and effort it takes to develop perfect pressing technique, according to trainers Mathew Forzaglia, NFPT-CPT, founder of Forzag Fitness and Men’s health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, CSCS

“When I’m trying to do overhead presses, I just want the easiest overhead press I can go heavy when I’m really trying to build my shoulders,” says Samuel. “Yes, you can get heavy with the barbell, but by the time we’re done… [learning] all that gymnastics to do that, I could have done a lot of other exercises, they can get me there faster. ”

Why You Shouldn’t Do the Barbell Overhead Press

The Overhead Barbell Press places your shoulder in a restricted position

Before we put any unnecessary strain on your shoulder joints, let’s reiterate this point: Because the barbell press puts us in a restricted position throughout the entire movement (given the fixed position of your hands gripping the bar), it forces the lifter’s shoulders to move internally. rotating, limiting the safe range of motion under load and putting you at risk of injury.

There are techniques used to create some external rotation – one of which is “breaking the bar” – but for the amount of work it takes to master the movement, it’s easier and equally effective to have an alternative especially if you don’t have the healthiest shoulders to begin with.

Keeping the beam at the right angle is difficult

A perfect overhead press requires 180 degrees of full shoulder flexion – which a lot of us don’t have – and to do that with your torso nice and tight instead of leaning back. Without that core stability, you end up in an unnatural pressing position, which puts unnecessary stress on your rotator cuffs.

The Overhead Barbell Press can also put your back in a bad spot

An inability to achieve full shoulder flexion often leads to arching back and puts your mid-back with more work than it can handle — a recipe for injury. Putting yourself in this unsafe position also takes away most of the intended benefits of overhand pressing — strengthening your shoulder, not straining your back.

      3 Shoulder-Building Barbell Overhead Press Alternatives

      landmine press

      3 sets of 8 to 10 reps

      This move is arguably the most adaptable variation of the shoulder press, according to Samuel, as you can slide your torso closer or further away from the load to make it more or less challenging. The landmine angling also makes it an effective option for those of us who can’t press directly overhead – you can still load your front deltoids and still get plenty of reps.

      Very high incline press

      3 sets of 8 to 10 reps

      When Samuel says high lean, he means as close to 90 degrees as possible. While this is a higher angle than normal to use on a ramp press, we still get that nice adjustable press we’re in for our torso. From here, the high incline press allows us to stack our joints and focus on pushing the weight straight up against gravity, providing constant resistance.

      kettlebell press

      3 sets of 8 to 10 reps

      The technique used with kettlebell presses forces you into external rotation, Forzaglia says, putting most of us in a better overall press position. And once you get into good form, the kettlebell allows you to move some heavy weight with the overhead press — just with much less risk of injury.

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