Training guide

Train to Gain: 5 Moves to Improve Your Overhead Press

Reflex Nutrition - Oct.20.17

The shoulder is the most complex joint in the body. However, it is also the most vulnerable. Shoulder mobility is heavily influenced by the surrounding muscles and these muscular imbalances can cause real problems with pressing movements.

In this article, I’m going to explain why this occurs and give you 5 exercises to help correct common shoulder issues.

If you can’t perform the full range of movement, you can't fully train the muscle. This will be impacting your strength and size gains.

Although resistance training isn’t actually to blame for becoming tight, working muscles in shortened ranges of motion can cause them to become short. Further to that sitting forwards at a desk for long periods of time shortens the pec muscles and weakens the upper back. All a combination of bad posture.

So let’s look at some simple ways we can fix this to help you get more shoulder mobility and improve your pressing.

We need to stretch these shortened muscles and increase the range of movement, but a strong overhead press also requires good scapular movement so we need to make sure that is included in our mobility work.

Most people skip a proper warm up and get right to work, and as much as I applaud your enthusiasm, your shoulders probably don’t.

Here are 5 shoulder mobility movements to incorporate into your upper body warm up:

 Scap pulls      

Take a shoulder width grip on a bar and allow yourself to dead-hang. Let your shoulder blades separate and your shoulders come up to your ears, then retract your shoulders and lats and pull yourself up, not bending your elbows. Perform 2 sets of 10 reps.  

Chest opener   Chest Opener - step2

Attach a band to a frame at shoulder height or above, take the band in one hand and step forwards. Allowing the hand to rotate upwards with a locked arm you will feel a stretch in the pec and anterior delt. You can also rotate the elbow up and down (but keeping locked) for more of an active stretch. Hold for 15-30 seconds or 20 rotations per side.  

 Bully stretch   Bully Stretch - step3 - rear   Bully Stretch - step3 - front

Attach the band overhead and turn your hand behind your back. Keep the band close to you and allow it to pull your arm up your back - like the classic ‘high school bully’. Do not allow your shoulder to roll forwards. By holding this position you will increase your internal rotation. Hold for 15-30s per side.  

 Band dislocates   Band Dislocate - step4 - A   Band Dislocate - step4 - B

Take a resistance band at both ends and hold out in front of you. Keeping your arm straight, take the band overhead and behind you as far as you can go. Bring the band back over to the front without bending your elbows to stretch the pecs, front delt, and bicep tendon. Perform 10-15, pausing at the top where the muscle is tightest.  

Band pull-apart   Shoulder Mobility - step5 - Pull apart B   Shoulder Mobility - step5 - Pull apart A

Take a thin band or cables and take your hands out straight in front of you. Retract your shoulder blades together and with palms facing down, extend your arms straight out to your sides. Repeat for 15-20 reps.

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