Overhead Press: How To, Muscles Worked, Benefits & 11 Variations

September 04, 2021

The overhead press is among the greatest higher physique workout routines for gaining muscle and general energy within the shoulders. This compound train is taken into account of 1 the massive 4 lifts that defines your energy. The overhead press is usually known as shoulder press, press, army press(though not precisely right) and is usually abbreviated as OHP. The overhead press is an incredible motion to construct shoulders, traps, triceps, higher chest and core. To have a powerful higher physique you have to grasp the overhead press.

In this publish we’ll cowl learn how to do an overhead press, full with widespread errors and tricks to excellent the shape plus you’ll find out about overhead press variations and the way/when to do them. You’ll additionally perceive what are the advantages of doing the OHP, muscle tissues labored and learn how to program the overhead press into your exercise routine.

What is an overhead press train?

The overhead press is among the large boys in terms of compound workout routines. The overhead press is an higher physique train the place you’ll press a barbell upward over your head whereas standing up straight.

The major movers of the overhead press are the deltoids, triceps, and traps whereas different muscle tissues just like the pecs, serratus anterior and abs additionally play a task. The function of the overhead press is to strengthen the shoulders and triceps.

The overhead press is included in just about each weightlifting program price its salt that powerlifters or bodybuilders observe. Although the overhead press isn’t included within the large 3 of squats, deadlifts and bench press it’s partially current in Olympic lifts the place the load is lifted overhead. At the top of the day aside from the bench press there isn’t any higher check of higher physique energy than the overhead press.

Note: We will cowl the all of the muscle tissues concerned within the overhead press on this publish as this is among the greatest compound actions the place a number of muscle tissues contribute to lifting the load above your head.


There are a number of variations of the overhead press, such because the seated overhead press, push press, dumbbell press and extra. The important model of the overhead press is the standing overhead press.

In energy coaching the overhead press could be thought of the primary raise the place as different variations of the overhead press like dumbbell presses and Arnold presses could be extra of help lifts. We will get into the assorted overhead presses and the totally different instruments you possibly can use with them akin to dumbbells, kettlebells, resistance bands and even combo of a barbell with bands and weight plates.

How to do an overhead press

The barbell overhead press is the first shoulder press train so we’ll go in depth right here on learn how to carry out the overhead press with correct type. You ought to be capable to apply many of those similar type cues to different variations of the overhead press.

Standing Overhead Press:

Set the barbell on the hooks of an influence rack at higher chest peak
Stand up with toes shoulder width aside, toes identified barely together with your core engaged, glutes contracted, wanting straight forward
Grab bar with an overhand grip barely wider than shoulder width aside with the bar resting towards the heel of your palms
Unrack the bar retaining your elbows tucked in together with your wrists stacked above
Slightly arch your higher again whereas squeezing the higher again muscle tissues then inhale to puff up chest to interact lats and triceps then squeeze shoulder blades collectively whereas retaining your elbows at 45 levels then push straight up
As the bar is transferring previous your face begin squeezing your shoulder blades and shrug your shoulders whilst you push your hips ahead barely and convey your chin again to keep away from bar if wanted
Once the bar strikes previous your head, shrug your traps and squeeze your shoulders as you totally prolong your arms to lock out the load
Lower the bar in a managed method by way of the identical movement

how to do overhead press

Note: For the seated overhead press observe the identical cues however make certain to take a seat on the bench together with your core engaged and again straight all through the motion.

Right vs mistaken cues

Stand Up Tall: Many folks have the tendency to lean again when doing the overhead press. Don’t do that! You ought to full your complete raise together with your again straight in a impartial place and together with your core engaged. To assist keep utterly upright preserve your glutes contracted all through the raise.

Keep Core Tight: Keeping your core engaged all through the overhead press helps you progress extra weight and maintains your backbone in a impartial place. It helps to inhale earlier than beginning to push the load up in order that your core stays tight.

Look Straight Ahead: All too typically folks tilt their head up as they push the barbell overhead. It’s necessary to look straight forward all through the motion. To assist with this you will need to fixate your eyes on an object in entrance of you earlier than you start the raise.

Press Bar in Straight Line: By urgent the bar upwards in a straight line it is possible for you to to raise heavier weight because the mechanics of the physique can produce essentially the most pressure whereas retaining your elbows straight beneath your wrists as you push up. A number of widespread causes of not urgent straight up are usually not beginning the raise correctly the place you’re beneath the bar or not transferring your higher torso again barely as you press up.

Don’t Push With Legs: You ought to be contracting your glutes to assist stabilize your physique to finish the overhead press however keep away from utilizing your legs to generate energy or momentum. If you’ll be able to’t full the motion with out utilizing your legs to help you in getting the load up then you must cut back the load you’re utilizing. However, we’ll go over the same train known as the push press afterward the place you’ll be required to make use of your leg energy.

Overhead press suggestions

Properly Warmup: The shoulder joint is an advanced as it may well transfer in such a variety of movement so it’s inclined to damage. The shoulder joint has the aptitude for axial rotation so it’s paramount to carry out some mild mobility workout routines in your complete ROM earlier than making an attempt to raise average to heavy weight. For your heat units, begin mild and slowly improve the load.

Set Your Stance: Your legs ought to be locked in place to keep away from utilizing them to drive the load upwards. Picture your self screwing your toes into the bottom earlier than you begin the raise.

Set Your Grip: The grip you employ when doing an overhead press could make or break the general raise. You ought to use a full grip together with your fingers wrapped across the bar with the intention to squeeze the bar as you press up, this will add some energy to the raise by partaking your muscle tissues extra. The full grip can also be good for avoiding doable slippage, you wouldn’t need the bar to slide out of your palms on the prime of the motion, would you?  The bar ought to sit on the meaty a part of your palms with the intention to press straight up with out having to fret about your wrists bending again.

Your knuckles ought to be simply behind your wrists with the bar resting on the meaty a part of your palms, near your forearms. The objective right here is to mitigate the likelihood that your wrists bend again, whereas additionally permitting you to push straight up out of your forearms into the bar.

For the grip width, don’t go narrower than shoulder width because the load shall be exceedingly positioned in your shoulder joints. Use a shoulder width or barely wider than shoulder width grip. If your grip is just too broad than you’re decreasing the triceps and delts participation. in case your grip is just too slender your elbows will not be within the right place.

Note: Some want utilizing a Bulldog grip the place the bar will sit within the heel of your palm like the complete grip above however the fingers ought to be bent and urgent towards the bar together with your thumbs wrapped across the bar. Your hand ought to resemble a Bulldog’s paw.

Set Your Elbows & Forearms: Forearms ought to be vertical, with elbows barely inward in order that they don’t wing out. Most folks additionally make the error of retaining their elbows behind the bar the entire time, this makes it in order that your forearms aren’t precisely vertical. If your forearms are on a minor incline then the trail of the bar gained’t be straight up and down. Start together with your elbows simply in entrance of the bar.

Tuck Chin: As you press the bar up don’t lean or sway to maneuver the bar previous your face. Tuck your chin (attempt to make a double chin even when you don’t have one) and transfer your head again barely to clear your face then push your head by way of the window to finish the raise.

Stay in Line: Your complete physique ought to be in-line all through the motion. From a facet view your physique ought to preserve a vertical alignment. Keep your core tight by bracing for an imaginary punch to the intestine. You can even attempt to use a weight lifting belt in order that your abs have a floor to push towards. Your decrease again ought to stay in a impartial place all through the motion to keep away from hyper-extending it and inflicting damage.

Shrug Shoulders: Shrug your shoulders on the prime of the motion to complete the lock out section and activate the higher again muscle tissues.

Contract Upper Back: Flex higher again muscle tissues in scapular space as you’re finishing the lockout.

Benefits of Overhead press:

Bigger Stronger Shoulders: The overhead press permits for the largest load to be moved by your shoulders. Through the idea of progressive overload, we all know that we have to improve the stress positioned on the muscle tissues to ensure that them to develop, this can be a nice train to get that course of underway. This train improves shoulder well being and may help stop future accidents if accomplished appropriately. All three deltoids are activated within the shoulder press so you’ll be coaching your deltoids evenly. Oftentimes the lateral deltoids and posterior deltoids are under-trained when in comparison with the anterior deltoids so this may help to right some muscle imbalance. However, we do advise to get some additional rear and facet delt work added into your exercise routine as a result of the entrance delts get sufficient work in as they’re concerned in lots of ppressing workout routines akin to bench press.

Full Body Exercise: Even although the overhead press is taken into account an higher physique train it really works a number of muscle tissues all through your physique. Besides your shoulders the overhead press requires your triceps, higher chest and again to truly transfer the load whereas your core and decrease physique muscle tissues must be contracted with out transferring (isostatically contracted) all through the motion to maintain your physique stabilized. To actually execute the overhead press in essentially the most highly effective and environment friendly method, the glutes and core play giant roles in retaining correct type together with your physique in alignment.

Transfer of Strength: The overhead press transfers positive factors remodeled to the bench press as a result of lots of the similar muscle tissues are at play. The shoulders and triceps are major movers within the overhead press and so they’re help muscle tissues within the bench press. Your bench additionally improves as a result of the overhead press trains your physique on enhancing the lockout portion of the raise. At the highest of the overhead press, you must lock out your elbows to complete the transfer in the identical means you’d in a bench press. Say goodbye to getting caught at these previous couple of inches subsequent time you hit the bench press.

Improved Overall Functionality: Just going by way of every day life entails bending, twisting and lifting issues. The overhead press helps to enhance our core energy leading to higher physique stability whereas it additionally aids in constructing energy and energy within the shoulders which interprets to with the ability to carry out some actions higher like lifting objects over our heads when placing issues away. The overhead press boosts core stability, helps right posture and retains the shoulder joints wholesome and cell.

Bone Density: Weight bearing workout routines are the one means we all know of that maintains our bone density as we age. With the overhead press being among the best weight bearing workout routines for the higher physique it isn’t to be skipped. Lift robust hundreds construct stronger bones, sufficient stated.

Testosterone: The overhead press allows us to press heavy weights which may have the have an effect on of boosting pure testosterone. This is why you may typically hear folks within the health world say it is vital to carry out large lifts like bench press, squats and deadlifts. The extra testosterone your physique produces the extra muscle and energy you’ll be able to achieve.

Barbell OHP vs Dumbbell OHP

This examine performed in Norway in contrast the standing and seated barbell overhead press with the standing and seated dumbbell overhead press by measuring electromyographic exercise (EMG) when doing the train for a 1RM. The members had been 15 wholesome males with a median of 5 years of energy coaching. The preliminary principle was that if the train required extra stability (standing dumbbell overhead press in comparison with seated barbell press) that the 1RM could be decrease however the EMG could be related within the shoulder muscle tissues. The EMG was examined on all three deltoids (anterior, lateral, and posterior), triceps brachii and biceps.

There was a complete of 4 testing periods that had been separated by 3-5 days of relaxation. Each session had the next targets:

Session 1: Determine 1RM for seated and standing barbell presses

Session 2: Determine 1RM for seated and standing dumbbell presses

Session 3: Using 80% of 1RM every participant did 5 reps on every train in a random order

Session 4: Added EMG measurements to the third session’s goal

What had been the outcomes?

Front Deltoid

Standing DB vs Seated DB: Muscle activation 8% better for standing dumbbell

Standing Barbell vs Standing Dumbbell: Muscle activation 15% better in standing dumbbell

Seated Barbell vs Seated Dumbbell: Muscle activation 11% better in seated dumbbell press

Side Deltoid:

Standing barbell vs standing dumbbell: Muscle activation 7% better for standing dumbbell

Seated dumbbell vs standing barbell: Muscle activation 7% better for standing barbell

Rear Deltoid:

Standing barbell vs seated barbell: Muscle activation 25% better for standing barbell

Seated dumbbell vs standing dumbbell: Muscle activation 24% better for standing dumbbell


Seated dumbbell vs standing dumbbell: Muscle activation 23% better for standing dumbbell

Standing barbell vs standing dumbbell: Muscle activation 16% better for standing barbell

Seated dumbbell vs seated barbell: Muscle activation 33% better for seated barbell


Standing Barbell vs seated barbell: Muscle activation 20% better for standing barbell

Standing barbell vs standing dumbbell: Muscle activation 39% better for standing barbell

Other key takeaways from this examine are:

Overhead press carried out standing had a decrease 1RM than seated
Standing overhead press that requires extra stability (dumbbells) equals extra muscle activation
Standing barbell overhead press engages the triceps and biceps greater than seated barbell and seated/standing dumbbell press
The standing dumbbell overhead press had the decrease 1RM however had the best deltoid muscle activation

Overhead Press Muscles labored

Multiple muscle tissues go to work to tug off the overhead press because it’s one of many large compound lifts that works the shoulders, triceps, traps, abs and extra. If you need to construct large broad shoulders then the overhead press is a should do train. This examine confirmed the utmost voluntary isometric contraction (MVIC) of the deltoids was: entrance delts 33%, facet delts 28% and rear delts 11%. The entrance and facet delts are the primary movers throughout the overhead press vs the rear delt which acts as extra of a stabilizer muscle.

Let’s take a look in any respect the muscle tissues concerned with the overhead press under:

Anterior Deltoid: The entrance deltoid is the biggest of the deltoid muscle tissues that sits on the entrance of the shoulder. Muscle activation is best on this deltoid when doing the overhead press. The entrance delt is liable for elevating the arms in entrance of the physique and above the top.

Lateral Deltoid: The facet deltoid is discovered on the facet of the shoulder and it’s the second most activated deltoid when performing an overhead press. The facet delt is liable for lifting our arms out to the facet and helps to press the load above the top.

Posterior Deltoid: The rear deltoid is positioned reverse of the entrance delt on the again of the shoulder. This deltoid is usually missed in many individuals’s coaching routines so it’s necessary to straight goal it aside from workout routines just like the overhead press to be able to keep away from creating any muscle imbalances.

Trapezius: The traps is a again muscle that performs a task in lots of pulling workout routines however within the case of overhead presses they assist to stabilize the shoulder joint and end out the motion.

Pectoralis Major: The pecs are concerned with executing an overhead press correctly as you must puff up the chest to assist press the load up. However, when you’re seeking to construct a giant, robust chest then you must focus extra on the bench press and its variations.

Core: When doing a standing overhead press the core is engaged to maintain the physique stabilized in an upright place. Compared to the opposite fundamental compound lifts of bench press, squats and deadlift, the overhead press stimulates the abs extra in keeping with this examine.

Triceps: To press the load up over our heads the triceps are activated. Both the lateral and medial heads of the triceps are put to work. However, to focus on all three heads of the triceps you’re higher off doing isolation workout routines akin to overhead extensions or cranium crushers.

Supporting Muscles: The overhead press requires plenty of different smaller supporting postural muscle tissues such because the serratus anterior, teres minor, infraspinatus and supraspinatus. Strengthening these muscle tissues helps to enhance general shoulder well being and mobility.

Legs: Though the overhead press doesn’t require leg energy to get the load up over your head, it’s wanted to maintain our our bodies balanced and upright. Your calves, ankles, thighs and hips get some isometric engagement. However, when you try and do a push press (which we cowl later) you’ll have to use the facility in your legs to get the load lifted.

Best Sets, Reps & Loads for Overhead Press

Your health stage and ends targets will decide learn how to greatest program overhead press into your coaching routine.

For rookies most coaching applications will embody the compound lifts like overhead press and make use of units and reps which are constant however the load variable will change as you progress. This linear development is ideal for rookies because the positive factors ought to come a bit quicker and simpler in comparison with intermediate and superior lifters who may must often change up their units, reps and hundreds to get previous stall out durations. At the top of the day progressive overload is required for all lifters to see any sort of energy or muscle achieve.  

Beginners can normally do effectively within the rep ranges of 6-12 to be able to achieve energy and dimension.

Intermediate and superior lifters might have to alter issues up with units, reps and hundreds to interrupt by way of plateaus or to hit particular targets.

The regular rep and cargo ranges for a lot of compound lifts together with overhead press are:

Power- 1-3 reps 90%+ 1RM
Strength 4-6 reps 85%-90% 1RM
Hypertrophy 6-12 reps 70%-80% 1RM
Endurance 12+ reps >60% 1RM

Training Variables for Overhead Press

The unique standing overhead press has a plethora of doable variations that you would be able to change up occasionally to be able to make your coaching extra attention-grabbing and in some instances extra environment friendly relying in your finish targets. The coaching variables that may decide numerous overhead press workout routines are:

Body positioning
Grip positioning
Load placement

We can guarantee you that you just gained’t get bored on days you’re coaching shoulders when you combine up a few of these coaching variables. Just bear in mind the primary raise and king of the shoulder workout routines is the overhead press and that different variations of it may well act as help lifts to enhance your OHP. Variations of the overhead press can be utilized to focus on and strengthen particular muscle tissues that want the additional work to make your general musculature perform higher as a cohesive unit.

Body Positioning:

This refers to the way you alter the place of assorted bodyparts to finish the raise.

When contemplating physique positioning for the overhead press it may well discuss with the grip you employ or when you’re standing or seated. The stance you employ can vary from the usual toes shoulder width aside or Military press type together with your toes subsequent to one another.

Another physique positioning variable that may change within the overhead press is whether or not or not you’re doing the train standing up or seated. Doing the overhead press whereas standing will pressure you to make use of extra stabilizing muscle tissues to maintain your physique within the right type. You may be capable to raise heavier weight when doing a seated overhead press however you’ll stimulate your muscle tissues extra if accomplished standing as they must work tougher to finish the raise.

Grip Positioning:

Changes within the grip can embody the traditional overhand grip, broad/shut grip, Bulldog grip, underhand grip in a reverse press or impartial grip if utilizing dumbbells. By altering your grip, you’ll elicit a distinct response from totally different muscle tissues a few of which we’ll cowl under within the overhead press train variations.

Overhand Grip: This is the usual grip for overhead press that locations the emphasis in your entrance and facet delts together with your rear delts used to stabilize the load.

Underhand Grip: This grip flips your wrists 180 levels in order that your palms are going through in the direction of you which of them locations extra rigidity on the entrance delts and the higher chest whereas decreasing the strain on the facet delts.

Neutral Grip: This grip has your palms going through one another such as you’ll see within the hammer press under. With this grip you’ll emphasize the entrance delts extra however requires some effort from the facet delts.

Bulldog Grip: This grip is much like the overhand grip as your palms are going through away however your fingers aren’t totally wrapped across the bar. By utilizing the Bulldog grip you’ll cut back the possibilities your wrist bend again and you may be certain that the load is stacked straight above the forearms when urgent up. This grip will take a while to get used to but it surely presents some nice advantages.

Wide Grip: Some folks discover a wider grip extra comfy when doing the overhead press. However, together with your palms positioned out wider you will not be capable to press as a lot weight.

Narrow Grip: Just just like the broad grip overhead press some folks may discover the narrower than shoulder width grip extra comfy however as soon as once more it will restrict the quantity of weight you’ll be able to press.


Next coaching variable is the tools you need to use for the overhead press. There are a number of variations of the overhead press which may embody:

The tools you employ when doing an overhead press can drastically change how totally different muscle tissues are stimulated throughout the motion. As we touched on above the tools use can produced totally different stimulus to your muscle tissues. For occasion, doing dumbbell overhead press requires your stabilizer muscle tissues to enter overdrive thus activating them greater than utilizing a barbell.

This examine used 23 wholesome College aged college students to carry out overhead presses with dumbbells and kettlebells then measured the muscle activation of the anterior deltoid and pectoralis main with EMG. The researchers performed this examine as a result of dumbbells and kettlebells are widespread instruments to make use of when doing overhead presses and so they wished to see if there was a distinction in muscle activation as a result of the dumbbells have a extra balanced and secure weight when in comparison with the kettlebell. When doing an overhead press with a dumbbell the middle of mass is according to the glenohumeral joint of the shoulder whereas the kettlebell has a middle of mass that’s posterior to the glenohumeral joint. The outcomes confirmed that the dumbbell produced extra muscle activation of the anterior deltoid when doing the overhead press. So, lengthy story brief if you wish to work on the first movers when doing an train just like the overhead press you must select tools that’s extra secure and has a middle of mass that’s according to the shoulder.

Load Placement:

The normal overhead press requires the load to be positioned in entrance of your physique ranging from the higher chest then extending straight overhead. The solely different load placement on the subject of the barbell overhead press is a variation known as the Behind The Neck Press the place the bar begins behind you earlier than being pressed upwards. These two load placements alter the muscle tissues labored because the Behind The Neck Press concerned the higher again muscle tissues extra to raise the load in contrast with the common overhead press that places the onus on the deltoids to raise the load up.

11 Overhead Press Variations

1. Barbell Overhead Press

barbell overhead press

The barbell overhead press is the king of shoulder presses. This train is the cornerstone of all shoulder workout routines.

We lined the learn how to relating to barbell overhead press above and the muscle tissues labored so we cannot repeat that right here. We will nonetheless present some examples of assorted barbell overhead press strategies under.

Seated Overhead Press

This train is identical because the overhead press with the physique positioning variable modified to being seated slightly than standing. Due to the very fact you’re performing this train seated much less muscle tissues are put to work. Your abs, decrease again and legs aren’t engaged with the identical depth to stabilize you and the bar. The seated overhead press can be utilized to extend the load you raise over head which may help with shoulder and arm energy positive factors. When doing the seated overhead press it’s greatest to make use of a flat bench with out counting on a backrest so that you just’re nonetheless capable of considerably stabilize the raise together with your core muscle tissues.

Sometimes when going too heavy on the seated overhead press folks have the inclination to lean again and over-arch the again which may create decrease again points. Sitting on a bench when doing overhead press means the glutes aren’t contracted so it makes it troublesome to lock out the again and preserve a impartial backbone throughout the raise. This plus the very fact your hips can’t transfer ahead provides to the possibilities you hyper-extend the decrease again by placing an excessive amount of stress on the discs. Keep your again impartial!

seated overhead press

How To:

Grab the bar with each palms utilizing an overhand grip, simply wider than shoulder width aside
Unrack the load then sit on bench together with your again straight
Starting with the bar in your higher chest press up by way of your forearms till the bar is straight over head together with your arms locked out
Slowly decrease to beginning place
Repeat for desired reps

Smith Machine Press

The Smith Machine press is strictly the identical because the seated overhead press besides you will not want to make use of your stabilizer muscle tissues a lot because the bar strikes in a set vertical path. You may be capable to raise extra weight utilizing a Smith machine however do not use this as a crutch. Use the Smith Machine sparingly or for some units to attempt to push heavier hundreds than you usually might’ve.

smith machine overhead press

How To:

Set up bench with sufficient room so the bar has sufficient room to cross by your face
Set up the bar a bit greater than shoulder stage
Sit down and attain as much as seize the bar utilizing an overhand grip barely wider than shoulder width aside
Unlatch the bar then press straight up over your head till your arms are prolonged
Slowly decrease to beginning place
Repeat for desired reps
Rotate and re-latch

Note: Using the Smith Machine for overhead press reduces the quantity of labor your stabilizer muscle tissues must do to maintain the bar secure.

Overhead Press with Bands

Loop resistance bands or bands with handles could be a good device to do overhead press at residence or if you’re on the street. The bands can apply the resistance with out being overly impactful on the joints.


resistance band overhead press

How To:

Step on the band then seize with each palms utilizing an overhand grip
Bring the band as much as shoulder stage then press straight above till your arms are totally prolonged
Slowly decrease to beginning place
Repeat for desired reps

Wide Grip Overhead Press

With this variation of the overhead press your palms shall be positioned a lot wider than a normal OHP. This hand placement might present some aid to individuals who have shoulder ache when doing an OHP. The broad grip means you will not be capable to press as a lot weight as a result of your forearms aren’t stacked straight beneath your wrists. Your facet delts will tackle extra of the pressure on this place.

wide grip overhead press

Military Press

The army press is usually mistaken for the overhead press as folks suppose they’re one in the identical train however that’s not the case. The army press is a stricter type of the overhead press in a army stance together with your heels collectively and toes identified barely. In this train you shouldn’t be transferring your hips ahead in any respect plus you may have a narrower base. These two elements make the army press tougher to do which implies you’ll raise much less weight. You can strive the army press when you actually need to problem your self however general, the overhead press is a extra full train that can result in higher outcomes.

How To:

Grab the bar with each palms simply wider than shoulder width aside utilizing an overhand grip together with your toes shut collectively
Unrack the bar, begin with the bar at your higher chest
Press up till your arms are totally prolonged and the load is over your head
Slowly decrease to beginning place
Repeat for desired reps

Note: You can even do the army press with different instruments akin to bands, dumbbells or kettlebells.

2. Dumbbell Overhead Press

This variation of the overhead press requires extra stabilization to maintain the dumbbells transferring in a straight line above the top. With the dumbbell overhead press there’s no must press your head again to maneuver your face out of the way in which as a result of the weights aren’t passing your face. Using dumbbells for overhead press has its professionals and cons since you don’t essentially must lean again or transfer your head or hips to clear your face however it’s harder to maintain the dumbbells transferring in a straight line. By having to regulate the trail of the dumbbells this train is likely to be a bit more difficult for rookies when simply beginning out.

You ought to be capable to press extra weight utilizing a barbell for overhead press which leads to extra muscle and energy achieve. The dumbbell overhead press requires extra stabilizing muscle tissues to maneuver the load so the load you raise will possible be significantly lower than you’ll be able to raise when utilizing a barbell. For instance, if you are able to do an overhead press of 100 kilos with a barbell then utilizing dumbbells it’s nearly sure that you just couldn’t press two 50lb dumbbells. It’s extra possible that you’ll raise 20-30% much less when utilizing the dumbbells.

Another necessary factor to notice is that with dumbbells it is likely to be a bit harder to linear progress as a result of the increments the weights improve at are greater when in comparison with a barbell. For instance, when you tried to go from 25lb dumbbells to 30lb dumbbells you’d be growing 16% which is a giant bounce for the stabilizer muscle tissues to deal with. Some would argue that dumbbell overhead press is a bit more harmful in contrast with utilizing a barbell. If you’ll be able to’t full a rep with the barbell you’re capable of decrease the bar again to your higher chest/shoulder space however when you get caught in a dumbbell press you then may need some issue controlling the load on the way in which down which might result in doable damage.

Overall, dumbbell overhead press is a superb help train to assist enhance your overhead press.


How To:

Grab dumbbells with an overhand grip then sit don on bench(ideally with out backrest)
Bring weights up subsequent to your ears with elbows bent
Press straight over your head in order that the weights nearly meet within the center and arms are totally prolonged
Slowly decrease to beginning place
Repeat for desired reps

Note: This will also be accomplished with kettlebells and bands.

Standing Dumbbell Shoulder Press

You will observe the identical methodology from above because the seated dumbbell overhead press however this variation is a tad harder as a result of you’ll recruit extra muscle tissues to maintain you standing with a vertical alignment. Your decrease again, spinal stabilizers, obliques and transverse abdominis are engaged to carry out this with correct method.

dumbbell shoulder press

Alternating Dumbbell Press

The alternating dumbbell press is a superb shoulder press variation that permits you to focus in on one facet of the physique at a time. By doing this train unilaterally you need to actively interact your core in order that your torso does not lean in the direction of one facet or the opposite. This train may help to stability out doable weaknesses which are current on both facet. 

alternating dumbbell shoulder press

Single Arm Dumbbell Press

Pressing the dumbbell up with one arm at a time will produce related advantages because the alternating dumbbell shoulder press however with this variation you will not be holding a equal weight dumbbell within the different hand. This model requires much more muscle activation within the core to maintain the torso straight. This could be a nice train for folks getting back from an damage or for many who want extra work on one facet of the physique. You can enhance your limb management with this train and if you wish to make your self extra secure you’ll be able to all the time place your hand in your reverse hip as proven within the picture under.

one arm shoulder press

Half Kneeling Dumbbell Shoulder Press

The half kneeling place on this dumbbell shoulder press variation leads to advantages akin to improved trunk stability. In this place your base is slender which requires you to stabilize reflexively all through the physique to stay secure. You will not be capable to compensate with any motion within the decrease physique making all of the work go to the shoulder and core. This is an effective place for somebody who has decrease again ache as a result of it minimizes the the extension within the lumbar backbone.

kneeling shoulder press

Exercise Ball Dumbbell Shoulder Press

This dumbbell shoulder press is not any stroll within the park. It requires stability and stabilization to press the weights straight up whereas sitting on the train ball. Your core and decrease again shall be examined right here so be sure to have your toes planted firmly on the bottom and begin with a lighter weight than you’d usually use for a seated dumbbell shoulder press. If you need to make this train much more troublesome strive urgent the dumbbells separately. You should preserve your core actively engaged all through this motion.

exercise ball shoulder press

3. Overhead Press with Hanging Bands

This train is a harder model of the normal overhead press due to the unstable weights which are dangling off the perimeters of the bar. It is not any simple activity to regulate the bar and the hanging weights as you press the bar upwards. Muscles you didn’t even know you had shall be compelled into motion to finish this motion. When performing this variation begin with a decrease weight than you suppose you’ll be able to handle. Using loop resistance bands to hold the weights on the bar means you must transfer with warning to cut back the bouncing of the weights. Stay targeted from the time you unrack the bar till you place it again down.

barbell shoulder press

How To:

Loop bands by way of weight plates then hand on the collar of the barbell
Get beneath the bar to unrack by gripping the bar simply wider than shoulder width aside with an overhand grip
Starting with the bar at your higher chest, press up in a managed movement till your arms are totally prolonged
Slowly decrease to beginning place
Repeat for desired reps

4. Push Press

Earlier on this publish we spoke about not utilizing leg drive to help in lifting the load above your head however in terms of the push press that’s precisely what you’ll be doing. The push press takes benefit of your leg energy to assist raise the load up. You will be capable to raise extra complete weight with the push press however your shoulders gained’t be doing as a lot of the work when in comparison with common overhead press. The push press makes use of extra general muscle tissues to press the load together with the legs and hips subsequently taking away among the rigidity out of your shoulders.

Using the push press can improve the load you raise however when you’re all the time coaching with the push press you should still run into issues when trying the overhead press. So, what we’re saying is the push press is an effective help train that you would be able to combine into your exercise routine however don’t depend on it to make your overhead press higher. The push press works by getting you previous the widespread sticking level within the overhead press with momentum.

The first half of the overhead press, transferring the bar out of your higher chest to your nostril is sort of pure shoulder energy so if you wish to enhance your overhead press you have to do extra overhead press. If you’ll be able to’t full an overhead press rep with out utilizing your legs then the load is just too heavy.

push press vs overhead press

How To:

Grab the bar with an overhand grip a bit wider than shoulder width aside then convey as much as your shoulders
Stand together with your legs shoulder width aside, knees bent in 1 / 4 squat place
Explosively straighten your legs to create momentum, as soon as your legs are locked instantly press the bar upwards till your arms are totally prolonged
Slowly decrease to beginning place
Repeat for desired reps

Kettlebell Push Press

The kettlebell push press follows the identical cues of the common push press the place you may be utilizing your leg energy to assist drive the load up. The main distinction right here is that there’s some rotation taking place within the wrist and shoulders. By beginning in a impartial grip on the backside then ending together with your palms going through away on the prime, your facet delts and rotator cuff muscle tissues come into play extra.

kettlebell shoulder press

 How To

Grab the kettlebells with a impartial grip then convey as much as your shoulders
Stand together with your legs shoulder width aside, knees bent in 1 / 4 squat place
Explosively straighten your legs to create momentum, as soon as your legs are locked instantly press the kettlebells upwards whereas rotating your wrists till your arms are totally prolonged together with your palms going through away
Slowly decrease to beginning place
Repeat for desired reps

5. Clean & Press

In this train you begin with the bar at ground stage then clear (raise it as much as your shoulders) the place you then end it off with an overhead press. Essentially the Clean & Press is an influence clear plus an overhead press. Before the implementation of the Power Rack this was the one means you had been capable of do an overhead press. This train was a part of the Olympics till 1972 then it was eliminated as a result of it was troublesome to guage correct type. The right method required the lifter to press the load with locked knees and with out an excessive amount of lean again making it laborious to see because of the explosive nature of the raise. Nowadays the Clean & Jerk and Snatch are occasions in Olympic weight lifting.

barbell clean and press

How To:

Stand with toes shoulder width aside, attain down seize the bar with an overhand grip a bit wider than shoulder width aside near your shins
Starting together with your hips down, chest up and core engaged drive by way of the heels and pull the bar up alongside your physique then flip the wrists as you make it to your higher chest together with your elbows ahead
Immediately press up till your arms are totally prolonged
Slowly return to beginning place by reversing the motion
Repeat for desired reps

Note: This is an advanced raise that can take time to study and grasp, begin with mild weights.

6. Standing Behind the Neck Press

The Behind The Neck Press mimics the overhead press aside from the very fact you’re beginning with the load positioned behind you slightly than in entrance of you. This train has dangers related to it because it places extra stress on the rotator cuff muscle tissues. We don’t advise you do that train until you may have full vary of movement within the shoulder and also you don’t attempt to go too heavy with this train.

This examine checked out each workout routines to see what the affect was regarding the shoulder vary of movement (ROM) and the backbone posture. The conclusion was the shoulder ROM ought to be elevated earlier than trying to carry out Behind The Neck Press model and that females tended to point out better backbone motion within the thoracic backbone, suggesting that trunk strengthening might assist with overhead presses. If you select to aim the behind the neck press then you must have a really perfect ROM within the shoulder and have good trunk stability. All too typically folks try the behind the neck press and find yourself injuring the rotator cuff.

behind the neck shoulder press

How To:

Start with the load behind your shoulders whereas gripping the bar with each palms utilizing an overhand grip wider than shoulder width aside
Press the load up till your arms are totally prolonged
Slowly decrease the load to beginning place
Repeat for desired reps

Seated Smith Machine Behind The Neck Press

Following the identical cues as above for the standing behind the neck press this workout routines reduces the necessity for the stabilizing muscle tissues to work because the bar is on a set monitor that strikes up and down. Try to do that train with a bench that does not have a backrest so that you just nonetheless must make the most of your core muscle tissues.

smith machine behind the neck press

7. Standing Bradford Press

This train requires nice shoulder mobility since you’re beginning with the load within the entrance of you and urgent the load up then decrease down behind your neck earlier than urgent up after which decreasing all the way down to the beginning place. The Bradford press is a mixture of the overhead press and the behind the neck press in a single train. There shall be fixed rigidity in your delts on this train so you would be utilizing much less weight in contrast with a OHP or a behind the neck press.

bradford press

How To:

Start with the load in the same place to the OHP
Press the bar up till it’s a number of inches over your head then transfer it backwards to decrease the load behind your head till your elbows are at 90 levels
Immediately reverse the motion and push up and over your head bringing the bar again to beginning place. This is one rep
Repeat for desired reps

8. Hammer Press

The hammer press requires the elbows to be tucked in to the perimeters so the strain is targeted on the entrance delts. You can do these unilaterally or each on the similar time. If you determine on urgent one dumbbell up at a time then you’ll be able to concentrate on working one facet at a time whereas your core can even be engaged to maintain you balanced.

overhead press variations with dumbbells

How To:

Grab dumbbells with each palms utilizing a impartial grip
Sit down on bench (ideally with out backrest to interact core extra)
Bring dumbbells as much as shoulder peak
Press by way of elbows till arms are totally prolonged
Slowly decrease to beginning place
Repeat for desired reps

Note: Try doing this train standing when you actually need to work your stabilizing muscle tissues and core.

9. Arnold Press

Named after the king himself Arnold Schwarzenegger, this shoulder press strikes you thru a number of planes of movement so it is nice for strengthening all three delts. The Arnold press can also be nice for the stabilizer muscle tissues that are wanted within the overhead press. Use this train as an help raise to the OHP as it can improve the muscle tissues wanted to execute a correct OHP. You can activate the delts and stabilizer muscle tissues much more when you do that train standing.

dumbbell shoulder press

How To:

Sit down on a bench and seize dumbbells with an underhand grip then convey them up in entrance of you at shoulder stage, palms going through in the direction of you
Open arms out to the facet and press up whereas rotating your wrists till the weights are above your head and your palms are going through away from you
Slowly return in the identical movement till you attain beginning place
Repeat for desired reps

10. Landmine Press

This unilateral workout routines is sweet to work the shoulders at a distinct angle since you aren’t urgent straight up. You can take some stress off your shoulder joint however nonetheless get an important exercise in for the entrance delts and scapular stabilizer muscle tissues. An added good thing about doing the landmine press is that your core has to work laborious to maintain you balanced so you may get a shoulder and core exercise in with one train.

shoulder barbell press

How To:

Kneel on the bottom together with your proper knee together with your left leg ahead
Grab the top of the bar with a impartial grip utilizing your proper hand
Start with the bar on the entrance of your proper shoulder then press out and away from you till your arm is prolonged
Slowly return to beginning place
Repeat for desired reps

Note: If you employ each palms to do that train you’ll switch many of the work to the higher chest slightly than the entrance delts.

11. Reverse Grip Press

The reverse grip press begins in the identical place because the Arnold press together with your palms going through in the direction of you however as a substitute of opening the arms and rotating the wrists, you’ll press straight up. This train is sweet for focusing on the entrance delts, triceps and the serratus anterior.

shoulder dumbbell press

How To:

Grab dumbbells with each palms utilizing an underhand grip

Bring the weights as much as shoulder stage with palms going through in
Press straight up till arms are prolonged
Slowly return to beginning place
Repeat for desired reps

EZ Bar Reverse Grip Press

This train works in the identical means because the seated reverse grip press however additionally, you will have to interact your core muscle tissues to maintain you upright. Using the EZ bar mixed with a reverse grip you’ll take some rigidity off of the shoulder joint and transfer it to the entrance delts. People which have shoulder ache when doing normal overhead press ought to give this train a strive.

ez bar close grip reverse press

How do I improve my Overhead Press?

To improve your overhead press you must do extra overhead press. Through constant apply you’ll enhance your type and method which is able to will let you press extra weight over time. Try so as to add 5-10 kilos to your overhead press each 4 weeks and/or improve the variety of reps you’re doing.

To improve your overhead press you’ll be able to combine in some overhead press variations akin to:

Dumbbell overhead press
Push press
Seated overhead press
Behind the neck press

Once you may have the overhead press down pat then you’ll be able to concentrate on strengthening the person muscle tissues that allow you to do the overhead press. Assistance lifts can improve your physique’s mechanics to do the overhead press. Some of those help and accent lifts embody:

Incline bench press
Push ups
Close grip bench press
Upright rows
Front raises
Lateral raises
Triceps extensions
Hanging leg raises

How typically ought to I OHP?

We normally advocate that you just attempt to do the OHP and/or a variation 2-3 instances per week. Multiple research have proven that you’ll achieve essentially the most energy and muscle when you hit them twice per week with as much as 20 units complete.  

Related: How Many Exercises, Sets, and Reps Should I Do Per Muscle Group & Workout?

How to include OHP into your routine

You ought to goal to incorporate OHP into your exercise programming 2-3 instances per week particularly when you’re a newbie. With this frequency you’ll be capable to get ample reps and units to stimulate muscle and energy positive factors whereas additionally permitting your muscle tissues correct time to heal and recuperate. If you’re intermediate or superior you then may want much less frequency however with extra depth. It’s greatest to do that large compound raise in the direction of the start of your exercise session when your muscle tissues are contemporary. Rest instances ought to be 1-2 minutes between every set.

Let’s see how one can put this into apply relying in your exercise programming assuming hypertrophy is your finish objective.

Upper/Lower Split

With an higher/decrease physique break up you’ll almost definitely be coaching 4 days per week, 2 days will include higher physique workout routines and two days of decrease physique workout routines. You can select a schedule that matches your life-style, simply make certain it offers you adequate time to recuperate earlier than working the identical muscle tissues.

Monday and Thursday for Upper Body Days


Bench Press: 3 units x 4-8 reps
Lat Pull Down: 3 units x 8-12 reps
Overhead Press: 3 units x 6-8 reps
Bent Over Rows: 4 units x 10-12
Lateral Raises: 3 units x 8-12 reps (both sides)
Skull Crushers: 2 units x 10-12


Seated Overhead Press: 4 units x 10-12 reps
Pull Ups: 3 units x 10 reps
Incline Dumbbell Press: 3 units x 8-10 reps
Shrugs: 3 units x 6-8 reps
Pullovers: 3 units x 6-8 reps
Bicep Curls: 2 units x 15-20 reps

Push/Pull/Leg Split

In this break up you’ll do overhead press and/or variations of it on the push days both a few times weekly, for instance:

Push Press: 5 units x 4-6 reps
Bench Press: 4 units x 5 reps
Standing Shoulder Press: 4 units x 6 reps
Dips: 3 units x 8-10 reps
Upright Rows: 3 units  x 10-12 reps
Overhead Triceps Extensions: 2 units x 10-15 reps

Bodypart 5 Day Split

This break up generally known as the “Bro Split” targets a distinct bodypart every day so a shoulder day may appear like:

Overhead Press: 3 units x 6-8 reps
Arnold Presses: 4 units x 8-10 reps
Lateral Raises: 3 units x 10-12 reps
Front Raises:  2 units x 8-12 reps
Rear Delt Flys: 4 units x 10-12 reps
Shrugs: 3 units x 8 reps

Fullbody Split

In this program you’ll practice 3 days throughout the week and hit every main muscle group in each session with a relaxation day in between every exercise session. You will do an overhead press and/or a variation of it every exercise.


Standing Overhead Press: 5 units x 5 reps


Seated Dumbbell Press: 4 units x 6-8 reps


Military Press: 3 units x 8-10 reps

Pain From Overhead Press

Even although the overhead press may look easy from an outdoor perspective, it is among the harder and technical compound lifts. With this complexity of the overhead press additionally comes the potential of injuring your self or experiencing ache, it may well’t be understated how necessary correct type and method is. You should all the time make certain your shoulders are warmed up with some shoulder mobility workout routines earlier than performing the overhead press. Here’s among the widespread pains or points folks can expertise when doing overhead presses:

Neck: We briefly touched on this level above but it surely’s necessary to reiterate the very fact you must preserve your neck straight and impartial all through the motion. Don’t lookup, to the facet or wherever else however straight forward as you do overhead presses. It’s additionally necessary that you just don’t poke your neck ahead an excessive amount of to complete locking out the raise, preserve your head according to your backbone.The bar ought to be straight over your shoulders on the prime of the raise not behind you. You may expertise a taking pictures ache in your neck or traps when you twist, tilt or poke your neck as you’re urgent up. Lastly, all the time make certain to heat up earlier than you get into your working units. You can begin with an empty bar for five reps then improve the load accordingly to do one other two heat up units of 3-5 reps.

Shoulders: The shoulder is a novel joint with a variety of movement that may be injured simply when you aren’t vigilant about your type. When doing the overhead press you must shrug on the prime of the motion to cut back the possibilities of shoulder impingement. The cause you must shrug your shoulders on the prime is in order that the rotator cuff muscle tissue isn’t squeezed between the higher arm bone and the AC joint.  Once the bar is on the prime of the motion bear in mind that it ought to sit straight over your shoulders not in entrance or behind.

Wrists: Wrist ache normally occurs in overhead press when the grip getting used is inaccurate. The key to keep away from wrist ache is to have the bar on the backside of the palm and preserve your wrist straight when urgent up. You may need to strive utilizing the Bulldog grip to assist reinforce the positioning of the load in order that it sits straight above the forearms.

Lower Back: Some folks hyper-extend their decrease again to help them getting the load up. Don’t do that! If you don’t preserve your again impartial all through the overhead press there’s an opportunity you injure your decrease again. Unfortunately, a standard tendency is to lean and arch the again when urgent up a heavy weight however this will result in again ache and even herniated discs. To assist preserve your again impartial you must squeeze your abs, glutes and quadriceps. You can even take into account carrying a weight lifting belt to assist brace your core space regardless that it gained’t essentially repair unhealthy type.

Stretches For Shoulders

Before you train you must all the time begin with some dynamic stretches or mobility workout routines to get the blood flowing and the muscle tissues warmed up. Once your exercise is accomplished you must carry out some static stretches as a quiet down with the intention to cut back soreness because the muscle tissues recuperate.

Here are some stretches for the shoulders that may be accomplished on the times you’ll be doing overhead press or any sort of shoulder train. These stretches will work all three heads of the deltoids and the rotator cuff.

Arm Circles

This a easy dynamic stretch that may heat up the shoulder girdle and get the blood flowing to your muscle tissues which are concerned within the OHP. We love to do 5-10 small, medium and enormous circles in every path earlier than our shoulder exercise. Not a lot of a proof is required right here, convey your arms out to your sides then transfer them in a round movement.

overhead press shoulder warm up

Doorway Shoulder Stretch

This is a superb static stretch to essentially open the chest and shoulders. Static stretches ought to be accomplished after your exercises to assist preserve the muscle tissues pliable so that they recuperate higher.

Stand in the midst of a door means in a staggered stance. Reach up together with your arms and place palms on the wall you you type a Y form. Gently lean ahead to put stress in your arms. Hold this place for 20-30 seconds.

shoulder stretches for overhead press

Shoulder Flexor Stretch

Use this stretch for the shoulder flexors i.e. your entrance delts. Place your arm behind your again together with your elbow bent at 90 levels together with your fingers pointing up and your palm going through away out of your elbow. Use your inactive arm to softly raise your energetic arm’s forearm to really feel a stretch. Hold this place for 20-30 seconds then repeat on the opposite facet.

how to fix shoulder pain

Reverse Shoulder Stretch

You can get a very good stretch in your entrance delts, higher chest, biceps and forearms with this one static stretch. To do that stretch, stand in entrance of a raised platform (bench, desk, desk) then attain behind you together with your arms prolonged and palms going through down. Slowly squat down by bending on the knees till your palms are on the floor of the platform. Try to go as little as you’ll be able to in order that your arms are shoulder stage. Hold on this place for 20-30 seconds.

shoulder stretches to fix shoulder pain

Cross Body Shoulder Stretch

This stretch may help to enhance the rear delt flexibility and mobility. The cross physique stretch can even assist to enhance the horizontal adduction ROM and improve glenohumeral joint inner rotation, each of that are vitally necessary for overhead workout routines. To do that train merely attain throughout your physique with one arm over your chest then place your different arm beneath it together with your elbow bent. Gently apply press together with your bent arm’s forearm to the stretched arm. Hold this place for 20-30 seconds then change sides.


overhead press stretches

Arm Down Rotator Stretch

Unfortunately many individuals undergo from rotator cuff accidents or ache in some unspecified time in the future of their lives, this will considerably be attributed to the shortage of stretching. Because the OHP recruits among the rotator cuff muscle tissues this can be a very important stretch to do. Grab a persist with one hand then place it behind the other shoulder. Reach again together with your different hand and seize the stick together with your palm going through behind you. Gently press apply press the highest of the stick. Hold for 20-30 seconds then change sides.

shoulder stretch for OHP

How to Fix Pain From Overhead Press?

Treatment of ache from overhead press shall be depending on what the ache is and the place it’s positioned. As lengthy because the ache you’re affected by isn’t a significant damage like a muscle tear or herniated disc the remedy protocol will normally embody relaxation, icing and/or warmth remedy, set off level therapeutic massage and stretching. Performing the overhead press with correct method and type will go a good distance in serving to you to keep away from experiencing any sort of ache.

To carry out myofascial launch for shoulder ache from overhead presses, merely use a lacrosse ball or therapeutic massage ball to use stress to the set off factors and transfer in small circles for 20-30 seconds. Repeat this a number of instances a day till ache is gone.

Related: How to Release Neck and Shoulder Tension

How Much ought to I be capable to Overhead press?

There’s not an actual system to find out how a lot weight you must be capable to overhead press. However, ExRx has collected knowledge for the reason that 1950’s relating to common 1RM for numerous lifts together with the overhead press.

Let’s take a look at the common grownup female and male estimated 1RM in kilos within the US:

Male: 20 years previous, stands at 5 toes 9 inches and weighs 198 kilos with a BMI of 30

Female: 20 years previous, stands at 5 toes 4 inches and weighs 170 kilos with a BMI of 26




















Note: The numbers above are a tough baseline to work from whereas you may be capable to raise roughly relying in your genetics and stature. Don’t be discouraged in case your lifts don’t match up, with laborious work and dedication your lifts will enhance over time so long as you’re following the idea of progressive overload and consuming and sleeping proper.

benefits of overhead press

Final Note

The overhead press is a necessary higher physique compound train that may add some critical energy and dimension to the shoulders if accomplished correctly. You will get higher and stronger on the overhead press when you apply. Add in some OHP variations and change up different coaching variables in order that you aren’t getting bored together with your coaching. Try to incorporate the OHP and/or its variations 2-3 instances per week in your routine and throw in some help and accent lifts that can assist to spice up your overhead press.


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