Overhead Press and Neutral Grip

This is gonna sound dumb, but how should I finish an overhead press?

I’ve heard you should shrug at the top, not as a seperate movement, but more in a fluid way, just continuing to finish out the press. It frees up some room in the shoulder joint or something and can prevent injury. I think it says this is Starting Strength.

I’ve also heard that you should keep the shoulder blades retracted and depressed, as in a bench press, throughout the whole ROM.

I’ve done both, and honestly don’t notice much a difference between the two. I feel like both make sense. However, I’m really just looking to keep my shoulders as healthy as I can, since I’ve had some issues, and am wondering if there’s one that might work a little better. I don’t have enough experience to say if one is truly better than the other.

Also, is there any way to overhead press, with a barbell, with a neutral grip, besides using a football bar? Like some DIY version? I’ve seen some DIY safety squat bars on here - Joel Seedman had a few videos where he used lifting straps to allow the lifter to hold the bar in a similar position to a SSB while squatting, lunging, etc. without actually having a safety squat bar.

I feel like you can’t do this with a barbell unless you have a football bar or use dumbbells, but has anybody ever come up with anything like this?

These were both kinda stupid but any replies are welcome.

you need to shout “Arnold!”


Like… a log press?

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Your too young to be dealing with shoulder problems already, so make shoulder health a priority since they can become chronic and screw things up in the long-term. You won’t sacrifice any size or significant strength if you stick with dumbbell overhead pressing, either one-arm or two-arm. Dumbbells are, hands down (no pun intended), the most joint-friendly pressing option.

Some trap bars are big enough to fit in a rack, but most aren’t. Most gyms do have football bars tucked in a corner since they’re often unused. Ask a trainer or the front desk if they have them (might also be called “neutral-grip bars” or “multi-grip bars”). Or, for sure, logs like Jez said.

Seedman and other coaches have also recommended javelin presses, basically one-arm barbell presses with a neutral grip. Those would also work shoulder stability similar to the lifting strap press without relying on grip strength.


“I wanna beat him!” [voice cracks like a 13-year old boy]


I can’t imagine what that would be. I log press a lot, that’s a neutral grip. but not exactly DIY. If you want to use a neutral grip, maybe just use dumbbells? Seems like a pretty obvious solution.

That’s a good idea, although I think these are almost more like an incline press in practice. You don’t get the hands/arms fully overhead the way you do with a true overhead press. So while this is a good supplementary lift, I’d make sure you do at least one movement in every shoulder session that gets the weight directly overhead to work full mobility.

yep. just be careful getting the weight into position. I tore my shoulder labrum getting a heavy DB in place. When I use db’s for pressing now, I never go particularly heavy, and I do higher rep sets (8+ range). I really, really like 1 arm db presses overhead for stability/mobility. It’s a GREAT accessory movement. I’ve really benefited from it over the past year.

For general shoulder health, I’d also incorporate cable face pulls, preferably with a rope, at the end of every training session, if you can.

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Thanks guys.

Yeah I didn’t really expect any answers besides specialty barbells or dumbbells. Figured it was worth a shot. I could buy a log or a football bar…how much better would you say a dumbbell is compared to those? (As far as joint health.)

I don’t have access to any cables. I work out out of my garage and for my upper body I just have a barbell, a few dumbbells, and some bands. I have been doing ots of pull-aparts and face pulls with the bands lately though, and really focusing on working upper back/rear delts more often.

Long term my goal is being able to compete in Strongman, and possibly even weightlifitng/powerlifting (although Strongman is the most interesting) so I’ve stopped bench pressing recently but would just like to build my overhead strength as much as I can while still being safe.

Chris, yeah I know I’m too young for that. I’m trying to do whatever I can to fix it now. My training has not been consistent lately but for the past couple weeks I’m mostly doing a DIY version of safety bar squats, deadlifts, rows and other horizontal pulling, and accesory posterior chain work to strengthen what I can without botheirng my shoulder. Strength is my primary goal. I’m looking for just one primary pressing movement (something overhead) and possibly pushups if they don’t bother me for my pushing movements. Besides maybe band pushdowns or something.

Again, I feel somewhat stupid asking this question, but is there a way I should finish overhead presses? By keeping the shoulder blades retracted and depressed, and by shrugging up? Is one going to be healthier/easier for the joint, or does it not matter?