Overhead Pressing: Why I love it and how to improve it

31 01 2013

I just got home from a massage, something I finally decided to get done after years of on and off pain with my left shoulder. I’ve had the issue looked at by several different professionals (MDs, chiropractors, physiotherapists, etc.) but nobody has ever found a reason for the discomfort.  A few months ago I removed bench pressing from my workout routine and the pain subsided. A few weeks ago I started to mix bench back in, and again the pain presented itself. I think I’ve found the culprit.  I’m going to keep playing around with my upper body pressing to try to pinpoint exactly what the issue is, but if it is indeed bench pressing, it only serves to reinforce my love for a superior upper body pressing movement: the overhead press.

Like a boss.

Like a boss.

The overhead press can be done seated or standing, with dumbbells or barbells, and with or without leg drive. I favour the standing press with a barbell- both strict (military press) and with leg drive (push-press)- because it’s more of a full body lift as compared to seated or bench pressing.  Most guys are obsessed with bench pressing because when they look in the mirror the first thing they see are their pecs. I’m not saying that the bench press is a useless exercise (it is a staple upper body pressing movement), but I don’t think overhead pressing gets the press it deserves. When was the last time you heard someone ask: “Hey man you’re jacked, how much can you military press?”, no, it’s always: “How much do you bench?”.  I’m not sure when benching became the ultimate measure of total body strength, but whoever started that trend wasn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer- but hey, I bet he had nice pecs.

Long story short, I think more people need to start incorporating this movement into their training programs.  Jim Wendler over at EliteFTS is on my team and he wrote up this little dandy on how to improve your overhead pressing technique. It’s great stuff.

I overhead press once per week, with varying degrees of volume and intensity, and love what it does for my shoulders, back and arms- not to mention the fat-burning benefits of an overhead, full-body exercise. As I’ve recently found out, it looks like my shoulder can only handle one upper body pressing movement per week, but if I have to choose, overhead pressing will be the winner.

For more information on overhead pressing and how to incorporate the lift into your programming, don’t hesitate to drop me a line!

Happy pressing!