If you perform the overhead press for your shoulders and are looking to build more strength on the exercise, then you are going to want to watch this video. The key to any movement done for strength is to make sure your bar path is efficient. While inefficiency may serve you well when you are attempting to simply build muscle, it will derail your ability to get stronger as quickly as possible.
Here, I break down the inefficient movement of the bar during the overhead press and what you can do to make sure you get it right every single time.
First, it is important to point out that most of the time the inability of the lifter to press the bar straight up overhead comes from a lack of proper shoulder mobility and flexibility. The result of this is that that bar is often times pressed out in front of the body rather than up over the head and shoulders. This actually creates more tension in the front delts, which as I said, could be ok if you wanted strictly to create more hypertrophy of those shoulder muscles.
That said, the OHP is often done as a barbell strength exercise and therefore the pressing of the bar out front is not serving your best interests.
So, if your shoulders are not cooperating with you and it is their immobility that is causing you problems when you perform the lift, there is something you can do every single time you overhead press that will help to instantly get your shoulders better prepared to perform the lift.
Grab a 25, 35 or 45 pound plate and hold it at the 4 o’clock and 8 o’clock positions. Be sure to let your thumbs ride up the back side of the plate for additional support. Now, press it overhead and attempt to reach it backwards at the top (almost as if you were trying to hand it to someone behind you). With each rep, feel as if you reach higher with straighter elbows and are able to get the plate behind you even a little bit more.
The reason why this works so well is due to three things.
First, this is a loaded mobility drill for the shoulders. Often times, people will spend their time focusing on mobility drills that don’t incorporate a load into them. What happens is, even if you feel loose after doing them, when you go back and put your body under some weights the carryover from the drill is minimized. This is due to the fact that the muscles are firing differently under load than they are without.
Second, this combines both requirements of a proper overhead press in one movement. Shoulder external rotation and thoracic extension. One without the other will never produce an arm that is capable of moving straight up overhead due to bony blocks that become involved due to the simple anatomy of the shoulder.
Third, this primes the stabilizing muscles of the press in ways that help reinforce the proper mechanics of the shoulder joint during the press. In other words, with one of the main roles of the rotator cuff muscles to centralize the head of the humerus within the glenohumeral joint during overhead pressing, the act of externally rotating the shoulders as a result of grabbing a plate rather than a bar (with an overhand grip) and holding it low enough to encourage even more rotation, allows these muscles to realize the need for them to get involved.
Perform 3-5 repetitions of this in a slow and deliberate manner. Attempt to get back a little further each and every time you press the plate overhead.
Of note, it is important to make sure that you always press overhead from within something called the scapular plane. This is an angle of about 30-40 degrees forward from the plane of the scapula. This ensures that the arm travels up and down with the least impediment to its movement within the joint. Even when the arm appears as if it is finishing behind the head, it is not. In fact, it’s the body moving around the bar rather than the bar and shoulders moving around the body that you are seeing. The arm never leaves the scapular plane if this is executed properly.
As always, it is important to put the science back in strength when it is strength gains that you are after. If you want a program that does this while helping you to build a ripped athletic body, be sure to head to athleanx.com via the link below and use the program selector to find the plan that best matches your specific goals.
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