If you're a strength athlete who is into programming their skills to enable the greatest developments in muscle mass and strength then there is no way the overhead press should be off your radar.
Pound for pound, overhead press is the best exercise for developing muscles in the arms, shoulders and even core. Of course, when it comes to the amount of weight you can use to stimulate hypertrophy, the bench press cannot be beaten - but the complexity of a compound overhead press will develop your body beyond measure.
In this two-part guide, we are going to walk through the many benefits of the overhead press and how to perform it correctly in order to avoid injury and boost anabolic strength. In the end, we will provide a simple workout program so that you can optimize your overhead press and develop those boulder shoulders that you’ve always dreamed of.
Benefits Of The Overhead Press
Before we get into any of the work regarding strength progressions it is important to discuss why the overhead press is beneficial.
At the end range of motion, your body is fully extended - from feet to hands. This is the only exercise where you can train for maximal power in this position.
One of the main downsides of the bench press is that your back is stuck to a bench - limiting the amount of mobility you can engage in your upper back. During the overhead press, you can work to protract, and depress the scapula to develop eccentric strength in the upper back.
The most obvious benefit of the overhead press is that it's your best training tool for developing strong shoulders through a full range of motion. Lateral raises and machine presses will develop strength, but not to the degree of the overhead press.
When it comes to pure strength in the upper body, the overhead press is king.
Mastering the Overhead Press
The overhead press is a complicated exercise - but when performed properly will lead to massive gains in the upper body, core and even stabilizer muscles in the leg.
Mastering the overhead press comes down to preparing yourself in the most efficient way possible.
The first step to pushing out huge overhead press numbers is to prime your muscles. Ensuring they are ready to handle the weight and overload you will put on the muscle. This means rolling out the shoulder, completing accessory drills and supplementing with a pre-workout that provides a metabolic boost and increased vasodilation.
The last important note to remember before you even start putting on weight is to mobilize the shoulder. Research shows that moving muscles through a complete range of motion will yield just as much hypertrophy than weight alone.
Start off with simple drills to engage a full range of motion at the shoulder. Drills like band dislocations, hanging scapular raises and single arm Arnold presses are perfect for warming up the entire system.