Perfecting the Overhead Press: A How-To Guide for Women


Are you able to really feel like a badass once you raise heavy issues up and over your head?

If so, you then’ve come to the proper place!

This is your one-stop store for studying every part it’s worthwhile to learn about the overhead press, whether or not you’re…

Looking to develop your higher physique and shoulder power

Hoping to enhance your shoulder mobility

Recovering from a lower-body harm and searching for a approach to nonetheless get some positive factors in the health club

Searching for an train that can pay dividends in your different coaching (or your Muay Thai periods!)

… or just interested in safely add the overhead press to your coaching program.

In this text, you’ll study the advantages of the overhead press, safely observe overhead urgent (even in the event you’re utilizing several types of tools), and forestall widespread approach errors.

What Is an Overhead Press, Anyways?

When you do an overhead press, you’re shifting a weight from chest degree up and over your head by straightening your arm(s). Or in different phrases, urgent a weight towards the ceiling and away out of your physique. An overhead press could be achieved from kneeling, supine, seated, and standing positions.

Also known as the army press, the strict press, and even merely the press, the overhead press is a compound higher physique motion. (A compound motion works a number of muscular tissues or muscle teams without delay.) While it might seem to be it is solely an arm and shoulder exercise — and it does work these areas very nicely, particularly relating to your triceps and lats — it additionally targets the chest, again, and core muscular tissues. And in the event you’re urgent from a standing place, the further engagement of your glutes, quads, and toes means you’re getting a full-body exercise.

Benefits of Overhead Pressing

Beyond its means to work a ton of muscle teams in a single go, the overhead press comes with a bunch of different advantages, together with:

Enhancing your higher physique power and energy, which can carry over to different lifts and total power coaching capabilities.

Improving efficiency in a number of sports activities (like baseball, Muay Thai, and Brazilian jiu-jitsu).

Strengthening your means to push up from the flooring to get right into a standing place, hoist that Pyrex dish as much as the prime shelf of your cabinet, or energy your baggage up into an overhead bin on an airplane.

Helping develop highly effective shoulders that pop in tank tops.

Pressing can be a good way to evaluate your means to create full-body stress. If you’re feeling unstable otherwise you’re fighting type, you are able to do a physique scan from the floor as much as consider the place you could be shedding that stress, after which goal some areas for enchancment.

Plus, there’s only a particular type of pleasure and energy that comes once you begin lifting heavy issues overhead!

Now that you already know why the overhead press is so necessary in your coaching, I’m positive you’re tremendous excited to learn to do it correctly. But first, I wish to shortly contact on a number of belongings you want to have the ability to do earlier than you’ll be able to press safely.

Before You Press: Mobility Check

Before you begin urgent weight overhead, it’s worthwhile to have sufficient shoulder mobility to make sure you can transfer by means of the full vary of movement safely. Here are three questions to think about previous to urgent.

Can you progress by means of the full vary of movement with out ache?

This is the very first thing to guage in the event you’re keen on working in your overhead press. Here are the two actions to attempt:

Raise your arms up out of your sides (lateral elevate) till they’re straight overhead.
Raise your arms towards the entrance (full shoulder flexion) till they’re straight overhead (with out bending your elbows).

If you’ll be able to’t elevate your arms 180 levels out of your sides or entrance with out ache or bending your elbows, then working in your mobility first earlier than shifting onto overhead urgent is finest. A few workout routines that could be useful right here embrace:

Shoulder circles
Arm raises to facet
Arm swings
Kettlebell arm bar
Kettlebell shoulder twist
Kettlebell halo

Do you battle with shoulder impingement?

Shoulder impingement could cause ache in addition to a decreased vary of movement in the shoulder joint. While having impingement doesn’t essentially imply you’ll be able to’t observe your overhead press, in the event you’re fighting ache or restricted mobility, I encourage you to have your shoulder mobility assessed by a mobility coach, physiotherapist, or certified coach earlier than including the press to your power coaching program. Being cleared for the motion by an professional — after which consciously working in your shoulder mobility earlier than you observe your stability and management with urgent actions — could assist forestall future points or accidents.

(Note: If you’re recovering from a lower-body harm, the press can turn into your new finest good friend. It’s an amazing motion to observe to develop higher physique power, and since you are able to do it in quite a lot of positions [e.g., seated press], you’ll be able to work round many accidents. However, be cautious to not overdo it. If you’re not in the correct place, particularly in the event you’re compounding improper place with a excessive quantity of reps or a heavier weight, you’ll be able to trigger shoulder impingement. No one needs that! Listen to your physique, and ensure your mobility is there first — even when it’s tempting to dive in immediately.)

Are your pec muscular tissues tight?

Pectoralis muscle flexibility is essential to securely performing the overhead press. If your chest is just too tight, your vary of movement could also be restricted, which can make it difficult to finish the motion with correct type. If you lie in your again and prolong your palms out to your sides, palms up, and really feel a variety of stretching in your chest, you in all probability have tight pecs.

Work in your flexibility by including some chest stretches into your coaching routine as motion prep. The kettlebell arm bar or some band mobility workout routines could be nice.

Alright, now that we’ve lined the mobility piece, let’s take a look at do an overhead press!

How to Do a One-Arm Overhead Press with a Kettlebell

As I’m a kettlebell teacher, kettlebells are (as you’ll have guessed!) my jam. They’re nice for each rookies and extra superior lifters as a result of there are such a lot of choices for measurement, grip, and weight. Plus, the offset middle of mass of a bell makes it a superbly difficult instrument to make use of, no matter expertise degree. That’s why we’re going to begin by how precisely to do a kettlebell overhead press! (I’ll cowl adapt the urgent motion primarily based on the kind of weight you wish to use subsequent.)

You’ll have to know carry out a kettlebell clear earlier than you are able to do a kettlebell overhead press.

How to Do a One-Arm Kettlebell Overhead Press

Start in a standing place along with your toes shoulder-width aside (or barely narrower). The kettlebell needs to be sitting a couple of foot in entrance of you.
Clean the bell to the rack place. (If you do not know clear but, you’ll be able to “cheat clean” by helping the kettlebell to the rack along with your free hand.) Your wrist needs to be utterly straight, forming a straight line along with your forearm.
Imagine spreading stress by means of your entire physique. Engage your core, tighten your quads, and squeeze your glutes. Your gaze needs to be straight forward, along with your backbone impartial.
Roll your shoulders again and down.
Take a breath in, after which in your exhale, press upward from the rack place.
As you press, pull your shoulder blades again and collectively barely as you squeeze your glutes.
Keep your wrist straight (impartial) and knuckles pointed up such as you’re going to punch by means of the ceiling. Your forearm ought to keep perpendicular to the flooring (vertical) throughout the total motion.
Extend your arm till you discover your overhead lockout place (i.e., the bell is overhead with a straight arm and secure, packed shoulder). Your wrist needs to be stacked over your elbow, which is stacked over your shoulder. (If you’re hypermobile, watch out to not hyperextend your elbow right here!)
Reverse the motion by bringing the bell down by means of the identical path it took on the method up. Pull into your again and lat muscular tissues to manage the motion downward — think about that you simply’re rowing the weight again down.
Repeat for reps, then swap to the reverse arm!

Brand new to kettlebell coaching? Learn precisely use one, plus 5 nice kettlebell workout routines for rookies.

Overhead Press Variations: Dumbbells and Barbells

Let’s look now at adapt for several types of tools and set-ups. Keep in thoughts that the primary steps will keep the identical no matter the overhead press variation you select: Your core is engaged, you’re spreading stress all through your physique, and you then’re urgent a weight from shoulder top up and over head till your arm is prolonged.

How to Do a One-Arm Seated Dumbbell Overhead Press

Like the kettlebell overhead press, the dumbbell overhead press is nice for rookies and superior lifters alike as a result of you’ve the choice to fluctuate the load and alter up the approach. The cues right here assume a one-arm seated overhead press with dumbbells.

Set up so your pelvis is firmly on the seat or bench, and your toes are positioned firmly on the flooring.
If you’re utilizing again help, ensure you have full contact with the bench or chair again. (Be cautious to not lean again over the fringe of the help.)
Keep a impartial backbone.
Start by holding the dumbbell simply outdoors your shoulder. Your arm needs to be bent along with your palm dealing with inward.
Press the dumbbell towards the ceiling, extending your arm straight up.
Stop simply shy of locking out your elbow.
Lower the dumbbell down by means of the identical path, stopping at shoulder degree.
Repeat for reps, after which swap sides.

You even have the choice to do a seated dumbbell overhead press bilaterally, with two dumbbells, or whereas in a standing place. Mix issues up as wanted primarily based in your ability degree, power, tools availability, and curiosity.

Bonus: If you’re model new to lifting, otherwise you’re at house and don’t have entry to tools, you’ll be able to observe this motion with a soup can or a water bottle! It’s a implausible approach to transfer by means of the full vary of movement and get the cling of the motion sample earlier than progressing to heavier or more difficult weights. Again, this may be achieved in a seated or standing place.

How to Do a Barbell Overhead Press

The barbell overhead press is a extra superior variation you’ll be able to progress to after engaged on kettlebell and dumbbell variations. You can carry out this motion from a seated place on a bench (use the seating cues from the overhead press directions above), or in a standing place. The cues right here will stroll you thru a standing barbell press.

Find your beginning place, with toes hip-width aside and the barbell in a rack place (resting in your entrance deltoids).
Your palms needs to be dealing with the ceiling, with the bar resting softly on them. Your forearms ought to type a perpendicular line with the bar, along with your elbows barely ahead. While your actual hand place on the bar will probably be dictated by your distinctive anatomy, your palms needs to be simply outdoors your shoulders (not too broad). Imagine making a W along with your physique.
Engage your core and unfold stress by means of your physique.
Press the bar overhead, squeezing your glutes and tightening your quads. Stop simply previous to locking out your elbows.
Lower the bar slowly, reversing your preliminary bar path, till simply earlier than it touches your chest. (Note: You will decrease the barbell barely decrease than you’d dumbbells.)
Repeat for reps.

Form Check: Common Overhead Press Mistakes

There are a number of errors to be careful for, irrespective of which overhead press variation you’re working towards. Here’s a fast rundown of issues to maintain an eye fixed out for:

Floppy wrists. Check your wrist place to verify it stays in impartial alignment, particularly when working with dumbbells and kettlebells.

Relaxed core. Keeping your core muscular tissues engaged, all the method out of your beginning place by means of to the finish of your reps, is essential. You may wish to add a little bit further engagement throughout the raise.

Forgotten glutes. Squeeze your glutes as you press to assist generate full-body stress, keep stabilized, and preserve your impartial backbone.

Breath holding. Breathe in by means of the nostril and out by means of the mouth with pursed lips, exhaling on exertion portion of the motion (i.e., the press). You could wish to begin your exercise with some Connection Breaths, which you’ll be able to then proceed with throughout your lifting.

Arched again. Avoid arching your decrease again and flaring your ribs up and out as you press. Roll your shoulders again and really feel your shoulder blades connecting along with your ribcage in the again. Keep your backbone impartial and rib cage down, with eyes directed in entrance of you. (And squeeze these glutes!)

Torso tipping. Don’t fall into the simple entice of leaning a technique or the different to try to increase the weight up. Keep your shoulders degree. Watching your type in the mirror might help with this.

Pressing out not up. Lift in a straight line towards the ceiling, stacking wrist over elbow over shoulder; keep away from pushing the weight out in entrance of you at the identical time.

Interested in including extra selection to your useful power coaching program? Check out these 4 kettlebell deadlift variations.

Incorporating the Overhead Press into Your Training

If you’ve checked your mobility and are prepared to begin including the overhead press to your coaching, you’ve a few choices relying in your objectives and expertise.

If you’re model new to weightlifting, speak to your coach about incorporate overhead urgent into your current coaching program. If you don’t have a coach, begin with a lightweight weight (5–8 kilos) and take a look at for 2–3 units of 10–12 reps. If you’ll be able to’t carry out 10–12 reps along with your chosen weight whereas sustaining good type, drop right down to a lighter model. If it feels too simple, go up a number of kilos.
If you’re an intermediate to superior lifter and already engaged on bench presses or Olympic lifts, overhead urgent variations could also be a superb warm-up for heavier lifting days. You may additionally incorporate them on alternate coaching days to offer your self some variation from the greater lifts.

As you’ve realized, the overhead press is a crucial instrument so as to add to your coaching arsenal — and now you understand how to do it with three several types of tools. Great job! It gained’t take lengthy to see enhancements in your power, stability, and mobility.

And once you’re prepared for a little bit extra variation… attempt taking part in round extra with kettlebells! 

As I already talked about, the offset middle of mass makes working by means of totally different planes of motion a enjoyable problem. The bottoms-up press, double overhead press, and straddle Z press are distinctive choices I extremely advocate making an attempt out once you’re prepared for your subsequent efficiency purpose.

Now go have enjoyable lifting these heavy issues up and over your head!



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