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Overhead Expense: How to Press Without Pain

Four tips to get you started overhead pressing the right way.

 

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You can shrug, upright row, and lateral raise until you’re blue in the face, but there’s a not-so-secret concept muscular guys have known since before the barbell was even invented.

For bigger, stronger shoulders, there’s no substitute for overhead pressing. This sounds simple in theory, but most guys run into problems in the execution. Should you press seated or standing? Behind the neck or in front? As a push press using your legs, or a strict, stiff-legged military press? Here are four tips to get you started overhead pressing the right way.

1. KEEP IT STANDING

When was the last time you lifted something heavy while you were sitting down? By standing up to overhead press, you’ll engage your entire torso and force yourself to stabilize from head to toe.



2. ADJUST YOUR STANCE

Your feet should be shoulder width apart, with your toes pointed forward. This will help you maintain your balance and prevent you from arching your lower back too much. Stagger your feet heel-to-toe for more stability.



3. WATCH YOUR BREATHING

Just before you begin the press, take a deep breath and hold it until the finish position at the top. Exhale, and then gradually inhale on the way down. This pocket of air in your lungs will help prevent injury by stabilizing your spine.


4. LOCK IT OUT

Finish the lift with your arms locked out and the barbell over or slightly behind the center of your head. Pressing in front of your head can strain your shoulder joints and may hamper your progress.

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