How Important is Overhead Pressing for Size?

How important is it to shoulder development? Is it better to stick to laterals if you are already doing incline work for chest?

I think it get a lot of attention because heavy pressing can also add beef to your arms (I had very good arms from a lot of heavy chest and shoulder pressing), but in all honesty, I think a good combination of lateral type work will give you better “shoulder development” in terms of thick capped delts.


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Not very in my experience, but still why choose?Just lateral isn’t gonna do it either if we are talking nice rounded shoulders. It’s also gonna vary from person to person so spend a bit of time doing a bit of both and find out what works for you.

For me very high volume with intensity techniques like drop sets and multiple exercises works best for my shoulders.

The Paul Carter 500 rep shoulder routine works amazing well but would prob not be the best if your a beginner.

I think it also depends on what you’re deciding to speacialize and focus on.

The general Olympic weightlifters I’ve seen, men and women, have very defined and developed shoulder, traps, and biceps, and some more corresponding muscle that also aid the upper body when it comes to overhead pressing.

I’m sure a lot of their programming has a lot to do with their upper body development as well.

So again, it really depends.

I’m of the opinion that overhead pressing isn’t necessary at all, and heavy pressing, particularly if done with a barbell, will give you all the anterior delt work you need.

If you can handle a behind the neck press, I could understand that being worth doing, but my shoulder mobility is too poor and my head too big for that.

Anecdotally, I haven’t OHPed in years, and my shoulders have never looked better or been healthier. I’m sure there are some lucky folks who get decent lateral delt activation from overhead pressing, but, alas, not I.

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I think this is one of those ‘more than one way to skin a cat’ things. It’s kind of like rows vs pull ups. Both can get the job done very very effectively. Lateral raises can work, and a variety of presses can work. Most of my shoulder work now is overhead pressing. But I do incorporate lateral raises most weeks as well.


Not that my opinion matters… I never got shit out of OHP unless I did them behind the neck.

if done after/pre-exhausted with loads of laterals and isolation work then can be great for shoulders mass

I only started gaining size in my shoulders when I started overhead pressing two to three times a week coupled with crucifix holds with kettlebells, single arm seated non supported dumbbell ohp, and a fuck ton of pull aparts. I get a massive pump in my shoulders, upper back, triceps and traps when I do traditional strict military presses where you stand at attention with heels together and press with zero lean back.

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This. I’m very happy with DB bench for the anteriors and all kinds and angles of band work for laterals and rear delts. If you give it some thought, you can use the angles to get some useful accommodating resistance, iso holds, partials, full ROM, etc. and I think it might be a very low injury risk form of training.

I really enjoy the feel of DB push presses, and I got good gains in the past, but I have to accept that past shoulder injury limiting my upper ROM make them not very sustainable. (injury not lifting related)

I think doing some form of ohp variation is important for size for the basic reason that pretty everybody with really good delt development does some kind of ohp. That being said, if the ohp gives you pain issues, dropping oh work & going postal on raises can also work fairly well.