March 12, 2022 9 min read
The overhead press is one of the numerous barbell press variations for building bulging shoulders. It is a favorite of many gym-goers and professional bodybuilders.
The overhead press is more complicated than your typical barbell deadlift. It might look simple to perform, but its complex range of motion requires a perfect form. Below, we have provided tips and tricks to help you perfect your overhead barbell press.
The overhead press is a strength-training exercise designed to target and engage the muscles of your upper arms. It is an incredibly impressive exercise, and perfecting its movements would undoubtedly earn you some credibility in the gym.
The overhead press is also fondly called the shoulder press because of the effects it has on building the shoulders.
While the overhead press has a primary objective to work your arms, it passes as a full-body exercise. Your shoulders and arms are the prime movers of the barbells, but as you execute the upward pressing motion, you engage the majority of your other muscle group fibers.
Admittedly, the overhead press does not involve intense movements as burpees do. However, the inclusion of a weighted resistance to load your muscles and the unique movements of your arms works your body just as intensely.
Overhead presses primarily work your shoulder muscles a.k.a the deltoids
The deltoid is the thick mass of muscle on the outside of your shoulders. It spans between your collarbone and scapular, contributing to the width and bulky look of your shoulders. The deltoid is often regarded as one piece of muscle.
However, it comprises three heads: the anterior deltoid, lateral deltoid, and posterior deltoid.
These heads perform different functions independently, but together, they contribute to the movement of your arms.
The anterior deltoid is the primary deltoid muscle activated during the overhead press. Also known as the front delts, the anterior deltoid connect to your collarbone and help to move your arm forward.
The lateral deltoid is activated to a lesser degree. Also called the side delts, the primary function of this head is to abduct your shoulders and move your arm away from your body. The lateral deltoid is also essential for lifting heavy loads.
The posterior deltoid, also known as the rear delt, helps move the arm backward. You make use of your posterior deltoid when you throw a football. Although the overhead press mainly targets the anterior deltoid, the side and rear delts are also engaged and strengthened to some extent.
The overhead press also works the muscles in your arms, especially the triceps. The triceps are as significant as your bicep muscles but receive even less attention.
Also known as the triceps brachii, the tricep muscle is the large muscle on the back of your upper limb.
Your tricep is equally essential when it comes to arms size. It possesses a larger mass than the biceps and contributes to having intimidatingly big guns. However, it contains three parts, namely the long, lateral and medial heads; the tricep functions as one major muscle group responsible for arm movements. The overhead press targets and builds the triceps.
Other than your arms and shoulders, the overhead press also works your rotator cuffs.
Made up of several muscles: the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor and subscapularis muscles, the rotator cuffs facilitate the stability and mobility of your arms. Since rotator cuff injuries are commonly encountered in the sports world, it is essential to strengthen these muscles.
The overhead press also works the pectoral muscles of the chest. The pecs are a group of two bulky muscles that span the width of the chest. These muscles are essential to arm movements, such as the adduction and rotation of the arms.
Your traps receive equal attention during the overhead press. The trap muscle is a back muscle that extends from the base of your neck to your mid-back. This muscle contributes to the movements of your head, neck, arms, and shoulders.
The traps are also crucial for proper posture. Other than these influential groups, your abdominal mucked, core, abs leg muscles are activated during the overhead press. This not only helps you to gain upper-body strength but also targets vital muscle groups in your lower extremities.
The overhead press is a great foundational and strength-training compound exercise designed to boost your functional and sports performance. It recruits your arm muscles to strengthen and hones them to help you achieve a more buffed look. The overhead press is the ultimate test of stability with many positive impacts.
Some of the benefits of the overhead press include:
Performing the overhead press half-heartedly is not an option. This would put you at risk of injuries and deny you the full muscle contractions necessary for muscle growth and development.
The overhead requires effort and dedication to holding correct form throughout your reps. This guarantees complete muscle response and maximum tension optimization.
To perform the overhead press:
A weak overhead press can cause you to load your muscles improperly, leading to injuries. A weak press also cramps your style; there is no use performing the overhead press if you are going to trip over yourself in the first place.
Your inability to perform a perfect overhead press can be due to several factors like a lack of knowledge of proper pressing posture, shoulder mobility issues, previous injuries, or lack of upper body strength.
Before you can perfect your overhead press, you need to find your weaknesses and tackle them.
Some tips to help you perfect your overhead press includes:
You might not be perfect, but your overhead press can be. With a little tweak in your form and some cues to keep you going, you will no doubt master the art of the overhead press.
For a bit of challenge, check out our list of overhead press alternatives for upper-body mass.