T Nation

OHP Alternatives for Lack of Shoulder/T-Spine Mobility?


A few months ago I went on an ohp specialty program. I’ve made it a goal to be able to ohp my bodyweight (185lbs) for 5 reps. I was previously someone who’s never trained ohp apart from incline bench press and some shoulder isolation exercises.

Recently I’ve discovered that dispite my best interest to have my form solid on the standing ohp (I’ve watched countless videos on this), I actually lack the required shoulder and t spine mobility to perform the ohp safely. I believe it is mostly due to very tight lats. I am unable to raise my arms overhead without getting some flex in my lower back. Last week I tweaked my back slightly and I believe OHP is responsible.

So for now I am stretching every day and doing my best to increase mobility. In the mean time, I still want to perform some sort of ohp variation to continue to progress shoulder strength. What can I do safely? I am considering seated dumbbell press, incline press, and landmine press.


Very solid goal. What’s your current level?

This article has some specific mobility drills and a routine to work on.

One-arm standing dumbbell presses. Similar to the landmine press, you still get core stability work and it takes stress off the lower back. It’s also more shoulder and less chest, unlike the incline press or landmine.

Also, plenty of face pulls or band pull-aparts. Emphasize opening the scapula on the stretch forward, a full ROM, and holding the contraction.


Thanks for the reply. Currently I can do 100lbs for 6 reps So I am at least 80lbs short. Was hoping to hit my goal by the end of the year. Its a lot of weight, but I think its doable.

I do have shoulder issues I’m working out. I believe I tore my rotator cuff slightly using bad form on wide grip bench press over a year ago. At one point it was hurting constantly. Through physical therapy, I got it to the point where it was only hurting when working out. Then I changed my workouts, improved my form significantly on bench press (retract scapula, stay tight, etc), and also only did close grip bench press. Additionally, I started doing a lot more overhead pressing, band face pulls, and band pullaparts. Also band presses from time to time. Now I’m at the point where it only hurts if sleeping on that side so I avoid sleeping on it and experience zero pain.

I will give standing dumbbell presses a try! I already do z press off pins. I don’t experience any back pain with them. Should try them with dumbbells too.