Medical Articles

Overhead Press - How to Shoulder Press Like a Champ

The overhead press exercise is a classic shoulder exercise that is time tested to deliver nothing short of spectacular results. Be sure to learn the proper exercise technique in order to save your shoulders and develop powerful and bulging deltoids.

To get set up for the overhead press, you must start by resting the barbell on a rack, in a secure position. Walk up to the bar and support it by pressing it against the front of your body around your shoulders and upper chest. Then you can take it off its support and move away from any obstructions so you are in enough space to lift.

You should use a normal overhand grip, with your hands placed on the bar just wider of your shoulders. Your foot stance should be about shoulder width apart whilst your toes point slightly outward. Your elbows should cross under the bar so that they are on the opposite side of the bar to your body; that is, they should be visible on the other side of the bar when looking from straight above.

Ensure you are standing well with a good posture by lifting your chest up and keeping your head straight and facing forwards. Maintaining this position will allow you to lift the weight without excessive strain on your body as well as helping to keep your back straight which is essential.

In this position you can now begin the overhead press. Make sure to flex and contract your glutes and your abs. Doing this will give you much more stability as your push the bar up and help you maintain your posture as well allowing you to push with more force. Explosively press up in a straight line but do not try to gain momentum from using your knees. You are aiming to extend your arms vertically towards the ceiling until they are extended. As you are pushing the bar up straight, you will need to move your head out of the way or your chin is going to take a serious pounding. Retract your head backwards by pulling your chin straight back towards your neck. Do not move you head to the side or tilt it upwards.

As the barbell passes your forehead sway your body forward slightly. You will notice you feel as if you need to do this as it will help maintain your balance as you continue the upward movement of the overhead press. This should not involve any arching of your back either. The lift section is completed once you lock your elbows with your arms fully extended straight above you. If you fail to finish the lift you will be limiting what gains you can get out of the lift. Getting into the lock position will automatically force your chin to drop slightly towards the top of your chest. Although this will happen make sure you continue to look straight ahead of you.

Once you have held the bar in the locked position above your head then lower it back down to where it started. First flex your elbows out of their locked status and then sway your body back to its original posture as well as retracting your head to allow the bar to pass back down past it. Now bring the bar back down in a slower controlled way back to its starting position in front of your shoulders and prepare for the next rep in the same way.

By now, you should just about be a pro at the overhead press. Congrats!


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