Most people know by now that when you are looking to build as much size and functional strength as possible, the best way to do so is through compound exercises. These are the type of exercises that revolve around moving more than one joint through the exercise, and working multiple muscle groups in the process.
If you want to put on that mass and want to do so quickly, most people would agree that compound exercises are the way to go. With that being said, it is easier to do these exercises incorrectly than it would be in another exercise, say bicep curls for example.
These exercises are potentially more dangerous for one simple reason: they require multiple movements from different body parts, which puts more stress on your body.
One of the more popular exercises that many people do incorrectly is your typical overhead press, which in itself is a compound exercise. This exercise primary targets the shoulders which is a weak joint on its own, and considering that this is a compound exercise, that weakness complicates things.
This is why the overhead press is an exercise people routinely do incorrectly, and thus is one that causes a lot of injury as well. Here is what you need to know to avoid injury while doing this exercise, and to get the most out of it in the process.
Make Sure Your Stomach is Tight
One of the biggest mistakes people make when doing a overhead or shoulder press is that they don’t keep their stomach tight. Many people have tunnel vision in trying to maintain a straight back while doing this exercise, neglecting to keep a tight midsection in the process.
Just like how keeping a straight back maintains proper posture through the routine, the abdominals do as well. Keeping your core tight as you are pressing the weight up through transition is going to lessen the load on your back and vertebrae in the process.
Doing so is going to help you prevent back problems in the future, so make sure to keep that core tight.
Another thing to keep in mind is that if you have a weak core and have strong shoulders, you are going to want to build up that core before you think about serious progression here. Doing any exercise that involves lifting weights over your head with a weak core is a recipe for disaster, so make sure you do so beforehand.
Keep Your Elbows Down and In
Another common mistake many people make when doing the overhead press as well as the shoulder press is that they flare their arms out to the side, which puts much of the force from the weight on to the elbow joint.
Avoid injuring your elbows by keeping them pointed down and tucked close to your body. This will help protect those ligaments and tendons which are at risk when you flare those elbows out.
If you find that you can’t do the exercise without flaring your arms out, this is your body telling you that you are using too much weight. Reduce it down and try again, you should be able to do the exercise without having to stick your elbows out.
Tight Glutes Are Essential as Well
Just like you want to be keeping a tight core, keeping tight glutes during your overhead press is important as well. Your glutes are going to help stabilize your backside, helping to keep your body in balance. Doing so is going to help keep your back straight as well, which is greatly going to reduce your chance of injury here.
Next time you are doing this exercise, when you go to pick up the weight make sure you are doing so with the help of your glutes. Don’t bend your back to do so, use solely your glutes which will not only reduce your chance of injury to your back, but will give you the ability to push more weight through better form.
Start Doing Other Exercises to Help Improve Core Strength
The overhead press is an exercise that puts tremendous strain on our shoulders and our lower back, especially if our glutes, core and other muscles which support our spine are underdeveloped.
This means that we should do other exercises in the meantime to improve our functional strength which in turn is going to improve our ability to do the over head press. The military press, traditional dumbbell shoulder press, and other exercises will still allow you to work the shoulders and upper body without putting all the stress on your body like the overhead press does.
Make sure to alternate between the overhead press and these alternatives to give your body adequate time to recover.