Overhead shoulder presses can be a tricky exercise for a lot of people stuck in “desk posture” or who lack stability in the movement itself. I love these variations below because they help incorporate reflexive stability through the core and the shoulder.
This one is great if you don’t have good shoulder range of motion because you don’t need to go straight overhead. This is also a nice progression if you are post-rehabing a shoulder injury because it’s a step in between a full overhead press. Additionally, you can add more of a challenge to your core by doing this exercise in a kneeling position or even holding a lunge. As an added bonus, this one just looks badass.
- Make sure the barbell is solidly grounded in a corner
- Load desired plates at the end you will be holding
- Hold the bar by the very end
- Maintain a neutral spine as you extend your arm forward
Kettlebell Overhead Press
The kettlebell provides an element of instability that a dumbbell lacks. The way the bell hangs on your wrist will make it more challenging for your shoulder stabilizers. This also forces you to keep the weight in front of you slightly which will help keep your spine neutral. A common mistake in an overhead press is over-extending the spine, which completely checks out your core. This exercise will help you learn to keep your core engaged while you press overhead.
- Rack the bell on the back of your wrist
- Keep your knuckles up to the ceiling rather than letting your wrist flop back
- If the weight of the bell bothers your forearm, pad the bell with a towel
- You’ll see in the video that I actually keep my palm open for the first few – if my fingers are straight up toward the ceiling, the bell is in the right place
Overhead Kettlebell Carry
This one is as simple as it sounds. I love these for encouraging the integrity of a shoulder press. This will help you learn to keep the core and shoulder stabilized because of the constant movement while you walk. It will also work on some muscular endurance the longer you walk.
- Rack kettlebell on your wrist like in the KB overhead press
- Overhead press the bell into position
- Knuckles to the ceiling the whole time
- Eyes forward the whole time
- To be sure of your form, take your free hand over to the opposite rib to make sure it’s not sticking up – which means you’re arching a bit too much at your low back.
This is probably my favorite for working on reflexive stability through the shoulder. This forces both shoulders through a wide range of motions and your shoulder needs to work to stabilize at each point. This can be done with a dumbbell but, again, I still prefer a kettlebell. If you are not familiar with this exercise, start with a shoe balanced on your knuckles. If you lose the shoe, you weren’t in the right position or steady enough.
- DO NOT TRY TO MAKE THIS FLUID – treat each step as an exercise in itself while you are mastering the get up
- At every step the bell should be straight up toward the ceiling – knuckles turned up the ceiling as well
- At every step, you should feel like you could hold the position
- You can adjust your body position at each point to make it feel more steady
*I’ll post a more detailed tutorial on these in the future*
Give these a try and let me know what you think!