Although shoulder presses are a common exercise, it’s also common to see them poorly executed – leading to injury. Before you press overhead, we want to make sure you are qualified and prepared for that type of loading.
How do you know if you’re ready to lift overhead?
Before you add any weight over your head, we first want to make sure that you can get into a safe position with just your bodyweight. We want to see your core stay braced properly as you raise your arms directly overhead (biceps should end up beside your ears). If you can’t get your arms all the way overhead, or you have to compromise your core – putting excessive pressure on your lumbar spine – to do so, do you really think it’s a good idea to add extra weight to that position?
The easiest way to figure out if you can own the overhead position is with the Wall Slide Test:
Passed the test? Right on! You’re qualified to lift overhead – but be sure to also prepare for your workouts properly, using mobility and stability drills like the examples below.
Not quite there yet? That’s ok! All this means is that we’ve identified some areas of opportunity for you to improve before you start shoulder pressing. Use the mobility and stability drills below to work your way closer to a passing wall slide test, and in the meantime, you can use alternate pressing exercises, like the landmine press:
Mobility Drills for Overhead Movements
Your ability to reach overhead depends not only on mobility right in the shoulder joint, but also through your scapula (shoulder blade) and thoracic spine (mid-back). Often, with too much desk work, texting, driving, or overall poor posture, our thoracic spine gets “stuck” in a flexed position – and we need some thoracic extension to help us reach overhead.
Whether you’re working to improve your overhead mobility, or just getting warmed up for some pressing in your workout, we’ve got 3 quick drills for you to try:
Stability Drills for Overhead Movements
Besides just getting our arms over our head, we need to be able to brace our core in this position to protect our spine from unnecessary stresses and injury. Here are 2 quick drills to help focus on core bracing as your arms reach closer to the overhead position:
Let us know if you try these out! Have other questions about improving your overhead position? Comment below!