T Nation

Is There a Dangerous ROM in Overhead Pressing?


ROM, more as in "grip width => ROM". i.e. a narrow grip has your arms vertical at the end, a wider grip might have them 30-40 degrees away from the vertical. Also, a little lean (or more like a very good thoracic extension) might get the exact same ROM of an incline press...

Asking because, for example, a floor press is about half the ROM of a standing press, but a floor press is sometimes reccomended when your shoulders hurt.

I noticed that using a wider grip (which shortens the ROM)- snatch grip or slightly wider- feels much better on my shoulders.
Anyone know if wide-grip presses are indeed easier on the shoulders? (anyone with good anatomy/kinesiology knowledge?)

Thanks, Vlad


I'm not exactly an expert but:

Pain in muscle from tension = Good

Pain in joint from grinding = Bad

Everyone's built differently, so different grip/ROM for different people. Some people are more "robust" than others and can get away with a ROM that others can't.

I'd say err on the side of lessor ROM if in discomfort.


You can overhead press with a snatch grip or wider? G'damn, that's some tough shoulders.


Rang of motion varying from grip placement??? You start with the bar on your collar bones/bottom of neck and press to lockout correct? Only way I ever thought range of motion would vary is if one purposefully did not lock out or did not start the press at the collar bone level. Its true that the bar will travel a little farther if you take a more narrow grip, but range of motion does not equal distance traveled, or at least I never took it to be.

As far as grip placement goes, choose the one that maximizes the weight you can move without causing excessive joint pain. This will most likely require trial and error.

Also, the floor press and the standing OHP are totally different lifts and serve very different purposes.

As far as body lean goes, this is also individual. I must use some to at the very least avoid hitting myself in the face with the bar. You obviously don't want to turn it into a standing bench press, but balance must be achieved also.


It depends on the individual, everyone's shoulders are different. Healthy functioning shoulders should be able to do push presses, military presses, behind the neck presses, snatch grip push press (behind neck), etc. Many people can't do this for a number of reasons... lack of thoracic extension, internal rotator tightness, and external rotation weakness. Many Olympic lifters can do that stuff no problem because they started out early with those movements before any shoulder problems developed.

... I should mention, if you are going wider than shoulder-width (index fingers right outside shoulders) while the bar is in front of you, STOP. It's not the shoulders that are going to be killed, it's the elbows.


Wider grip will shorten the ROM of the upper arm on presses and rows which is what the OP means I'm thinking. Personally if I go pretty wide on OHP's I can touch my chest and it feels great, narrower it feels like shit so yes for me it makes a difference.

For me when I touch chest on OHP's it feels good to have my thumbs on the ring with a suicide grip, if I'm stopping at my chin I like to go pinkies on the ring with a full grip.

This is just me personally though


I'm talking about impingement and acromion types. (and that's why I'd appreciate some input from someone knowledgeable in anatomy/kinesiology...since I can't ask EC since I didn't yet buy any of his books...)
I know that one should press in the scapular plane in order to avoid impingement etc, but I wanted to know when/where in the ROM is the impingement more likely to happen.

And I know the floor press and OHP are different animals, but I'm talking about shoulder ROM, and why the floor press is considered "safer" for the shoulder than the BP and OHP.

Attached a picture to show what I mean by reduced ROM (which for me feels better, both on DB and BB OHP.)

Oh, yeah, my shoulders seem to be kinda fragile. One month of military pressing and I had the feeling my right shoulder is going to separate from my body. And benching also gave me pain. I started doing rotator cuff work and it's all much better. And I've noticed that not going to full extension on OH DB presses felt sooo fine on my shoulders.



There are multiple possible reasons responsible for that (e.g. asymmetrical shoulder alignment, impingement, AC/SC joint laxity etc., postural alignment issues, technique...).

I'd lay off barbell (OH) pressing movements and either get my shoulders back in order and/or use DBs for pressing.


Vlad, Sorry dude, I misunderstood your post. In this case, I concur with FattyFat: Stick to the DB presses and other movements that don't cause you pain until it gets sorted out. I have nothing else to really offer beyond this as your problem seems a bit beyond my knowledge. Best of luck getting it sorted out though.


ok. Thanks :slight_smile:
Guess I'll buy one of EC's books or DVDs and ask him why this feels better.
DB pressing would be ok if only I wouldn't have to go to "arms vertical". I seem to have problems with those final degrees (see picture- I feel perfectly well with the wide grip, but not with the narrow)