The Truth About Overhead Pressing

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With all the overhead pressing articles being posted up on T-Nation as of late I figured I’d join in on the fun and I invited myself to the party.

Overhead pressing isn’t for everyone.

To be fair, I’m not adamantly against ALL overhead pressing.  As a strength coach I’d be remiss not to recognize that overhead pressing is a staple with regards to well-balanced programming, not to mention it’s kind of important from a shoulder health and building delts the size of boulders standpoint.

That said, I truly feel most trainees need to earn the right to overhead press.

As sad as it is, most people have the movement quality of a pregnant turtle or the Tin Man on a good day.  As such, walking up to a barbell and haphazardly hoisting it above our heads might not be the best decision.

In the article I link to below I discuss some simple screens to help people ascertain whether overhead pressing in the right fit for them, as well as dive into one of my go to “shoulder friendly” pressing variations.  Give it a look and let me know what you think!

===> The Truth About Overhead Pressing <====

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  • Kevin Styles

    This is awesome! I am not afraid to admit that I suck at OHP. Thanks for the stretching and landmine demos. I am gonna hit some landmines and see if I cant blow my delts up!

    • TonyGentilcore

      Glad you enjoyed it Kevin, and that it was helpful. Keep me posted and let me know how they work out!

  • newbie

    From that article, and from what i understood about Mike and Eric’s work, may it be that:
    Most commonly, lats, pecs and upper traps are stiff and short.
    Most commonly, lower traps and serratus are weak.
    Then, we stretch what’s stiff and short, strengthen the lower traps and serratus, and correct the excesive kyphosis, to be able to press with the scapula moving smoothly and without hyperextending.
    Is this corretct?

    • TonyGentilcore

      You’re absolutely correct, and this was by no means an ALL encompassing article.

      Also, you can’d really deal in absolutes here. If we’re referring to the your average “computer guy” who sits hunched over in flexion all day, then yes, the upper traps are going to be short/stiff and will be overactive (especially compared to the lower traps).

      But when you’re working with the more athletic crowd, and for those who have been programmed to think “down and back” for years on end, you’re going to see some semblance of “reverse posturing,” and they’re going to be stuck in extension.

  • Chris Collins HKC

    You made my day, definitely going to try the landmine presses. You could probably mix them up with lumberjack presses and do a shoulder friendly circuit.

    • TonyGentilcore

      Glad you liked it Chris. I’ve toyed around with lumberjack presses in the past – brutal!

  • Bob

    Hi Tony, I have a couple of questions about the upward rotation exercises if you don’t mind? Firstly, when I do the forearm slides are my forearms supposed to stay against the wall the entire time? I find I need to move my body closer to the wall as they get higher to maintain contact, otherwise my ROM is miserable. Should I stick to the miserable ROM and keep plugging away? WIll it get better? Also, for the back to wall shoulder flexion, my arms stop about 8 inches from the wall! Pretty awful. Will the ROM increase with time or are there other drills I need to do to get that ROM? Thanks Tony, sorry for inundating you with questions but I really need to get my upper back mobility sorted.

    • TonyGentilcore

      Bob –

      There is a variation we use at CP where the forearms will come off the wall at the top, but in this case they’re to stay on the wall the entire time.

      ROM will get better over time, hopefully.

      As far as the back to wall shoulder flexion, try to shrug slightly at the top and that may give you a few more inches. But all in all, don’t force it. If you’re limited now, just use what ROM you DO have, and hopefully it will improve over time.

      • Bob

        Haha, not too reassured by the “hopefully” there Tony! I’ll persevere and keep at it. I definitely feel it working the upward rotators though and I need a LOT of upward rotation in my life so it’s all good. Are there any other little tips you can share that might help correct overactive rhomboids?

        • TonyGentilcore

          Yeah, sorry……but I don’t deal in absolutes. Only Sith Lords do that…….;o)

          Hammer those upper AND lower traps, get some soft tissue work for the rhomboids, and you should be in good shape.

  • Barath

    I called landmine press weeks ago when you said on facebook that you were working on an article on overhead press.

    I accept checks.

    • TonyGentilcore

      hahahaha. Indeed, you did! Good call. You know me so well…..;o)

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