If you want to build as much muscle on your body as possible and get a lot stronger in the process, your focus should be on compound lifts. By doing this, you activate large numbers of muscle groups, as well as joints, so that your body works in as much synergy as possible, which in turn makes you stronger and bigger.
If you are tired of being weak and want to look and feel stronger, your focus should definitely be on the standing overhead press. This may seem like common sense, but a lot of people get stuck on their overhead presses, but instead of using all that force to lift the bar, there are a few simple modifications that you can upgrade your standing overhead press. Let’s begin.
1. Make sure that your glutes are as tight as possible
People usually view the standing overhead press as an exercise that involves the upper body so that they do not put any real effort into their lower body muscles.
If you have weak glutes and don’t even tighten them, the risk of injury is far greater, especially if you put your back in a slightly arched position.
This is a huge mistake, and with so much weight on top of you, it can even be fatal. When you arch your back, it means that your body is trying to relieve some of the pressure as you get that weight up in the air. However, this also has some negative consequences: you lose some power and drive, which means that the effects do not occur the same.
When you are standing, you want your body to be well supported so you don’t fall off and have enough strength to lift the barbell. So if you are standing overhead, make sure to tighten your glutes as tightly as possible as you push the barbell over you.
You’re not starting from scratch – use what you already have and practice decent form. You are on your way to getting stronger in no time.
2. Move your head forward slightly
As you push the weight above you, let your head move forward a little. Even if some lifters try to prevent this from happening, do so anyway as it is not wrong.
This movement is completely natural and goes along with the course of the exercise. If you don’t move your head forward a little, you’re doing the same thing that you were doing with your arched back mentioned in the previous tip – you’re throwing your body off balance and out of alignment. This makes lifting considerably more difficult. So keep your head moving.
Doing this will fix your balance issues that you likely had when you didn’t allow free movement of your neck, but it will also make all of your movements feel much more free and comfortable in this exercise.
Since you don’t want to injure yourself lifting so much weight above your head, you need to find a solid range of motion that will allow you to easily move your head back and forth so you can move on from one rep to the next.
3. Contract your core
Be careful of your lower back while standing overhead – it is important to watch it to avoid injury. Holding a large weight directly above you will put a lot of pressure on your spine. However, when you contract your core muscles, you have a base from which to exert force and lift well above your head.
When you tone your core muscles, it is much easier to apply strength through your shoulders, arms, and eventually hands and lift the weights. Plus, because the core muscles keep your vertebrae in proper alignment, you are far less prone to back injuries – you won’t injure your spine. If you have a weak core, try not to lift heavy weights above your head.
4. Keep your elbows down
During the overhead press, you should also go through the thoughts of keeping your elbows down and as close to your body as possible. Put these babies in so you don’t hurt yourself, which is easier than it sounds.
Standing overhead puts a lot of pressure on your shoulder joints, which in some cases can cause pain and even injury. Your shoulders are incredibly complex and fragile as they have many ligaments and tendons that are prone to injury, which means you need to be extra careful not to injure them.
The correct form should be practiced at all times to avoid injuries, but also to prevent and avoid tendinitis. Keeping your elbows down and close to your body helps align the shoulder girdle correctly so that you can best lift the weight.
Do this and see if your lifting skills don’t improve significantly – they will and you will notice.
5. Keep your wrists straight
When pushing overhead, be aware of your wrists and their position. Usually people don’t care about their wrists while focusing fully on their core, back, and shoulders. While they are very important, you also need to take care of your wrists in order to align them, if not something else.
When you apply force, you do so through your wrists so they need to be completely straight to transfer all of that force into the weight. If they are bent, they will not reach their full potential.
As with any other part of the body, keep your wrists as tight and clenched as possible when you press overhead. Hold it so that it is in a straight line with your forearm. However, if you don’t believe you can do this and you don’t keep holding them straight over and over again, then your wrists may be weak.
To fix this, add some wrist curls to your exercise plan. In a few months, things should be a lot better.
6. Swap your presses with other elevators
Standing overhead presses are an intense exercise and place great pressure on your lower back as well as your shoulders. If overhead presses make you feel tired, reduce the amount of time you spend exercising, and do so about every few weeks.
In the meantime, add some other exercises to your schedule that you improve on with the overhead lift. Over time, you will get better at these exercises because you will get stronger.
To improve your workout routine, I suggest adding some dumbbell shoulder, Arnold, or seated shoulder presses instead of the standing overhead press.
All of these will make you stronger so your progress won’t stop and you will keep getting better. Confusing it with other shoulder exercises will reduce the chance of injuring your back or shoulder joints. This is usually an injury that will get you out of the gym for weeks.
Well there you have it – a few tips to help you get your overhead press as powerful as possible. As you get better at compound exercises like the overhead press, you get stronger, bigger, and better all round, but you need to remember everything that allows you to do this.