The overhead press is one of the best accessory exercises to build a big bench. Unfortunately for many they lack the shoulder mobility to perform a proper barbell overhead press. When you experience pain or discomfort with the barbell OHP you do not want to continue performing it. It will only lead to larger issues that will spiral out of control and give you trouble in your lifts. Work on your shoulder mobility first or simply perform these great overhead pressing variations
1. Dumbbell OHP - The biggest issue with the barbell is the fact that to get your hands in position you need a good amount of external rotation in your shoulders. The dumbbell variation allows you to take a more neutral grip that is easier on the shoulders. The dumbbells also create a larger demand for shoulder stability which recruits more overall muscle
2. OHP w/ Bands - The bands work similar to dumbbells by allowing less external rotation in the grip but they also do something the dumbbells cannot. They act as a form of accommodating resistance, meaning that when the bands are stretched in the top position they are applying the most tension, when you are in the weakest most vulnerable position at the bottom, the band tension is deloaded. That makes this variation great for people with shoulder issues that still want to improve their overhead pressing and shoulder strength
3. Football Bar/Log Press - This bar is unique because it has a neutral grip handle. This movement allows you to get as close to the barbell OHP as you can without the external rotation demands that you get with a straight bar. You can overload weight with this movement similarly to a straight barbell OHP
4. Single Arm OHP - When using one arm you create a larger demand for core stability. One side of the body is loaded while the other is working hard to create a stable core to press from. This also allows you a little more freedom of movement for those people who cannot usually get overhead with a barbell without pain or discomfort
If straight bar overheads bother you and you still want to get strong and improve your bench, give these great variations a try!
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