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Overhead Pressing

I read one of the coaches over at Elitefts talking about how bad overhead pressing movements can be for the shoulders, and how they can lead to injury. Recently I noticed some shoulder problems, right about the time I started doing heavier, low rep work with overhead presses. WHat are your thought on this and any idea what alternative compund exercises there are for devloping great shoulder strength whilst avoiding overhead pressing?

[quote]ConorM wrote:
I read one of the coaches over at Elitefts talking about how bad overhead pressing movements can be for the shoulders, and how they can lead to injury. Recently I noticed some shoulder problems, right about the time I started doing heavier, low rep work with overhead presses. WHat are your thought on this and any idea what alternative compund exercises there are for devloping great shoulder strength whilst avoiding overhead pressing?[/quote]

From my experience, and the experience of countless ppl I’ve had the privelage of talking to about military presses and the like, you will eventually fuck up your shoulders.

If I were you, I would stand clear of overhead presses. If you must venture there, try a variation using “Arnold Presses”. Much easier on the shoulders and works the delts well.

If you’re looking to build your traps, just stick with shrugs.

Take care of your shoulders!!! Once you fuck them up… there’s no going back. They’ll never be the same man.

[quote]ConorM wrote:
I read one of the coaches over at Elitefts talking about how bad overhead pressing movements can be for the shoulders, and how they can lead to injury. Recently I noticed some shoulder problems, right about the time I started doing heavier, low rep work with overhead presses. WHat are your thought on this and any idea what alternative compund exercises there are for devloping great shoulder strength whilst avoiding overhead pressing?[/quote]

I’ve Military Pressed for a long while and haven’t noticed anything.

This topic has been played out almost as much as PP’s self-indulgent photograph postings.

You’ll likely get a mixed bag of responses. I personally have only made shoulder progress with the addition of direct heavy overhead presses. In fact, I feel more stability directly overhead than at any angle. Having separated both shoulders, I know “shoulder problems.” I get more joint pain from bench pressing than I do from direct overhead work.

My guess is that any pain you are noticing is due to too much total shoulder work. If you add direct overhead work, you’ll likely have to drop some other pressing movements. Remember that most of us press too much and pull too little. Also, if it is new to you, perhaps technique / form is not optimal and is putting undue stress on the joints. My advice: pay attention to any pain / discomfort and address it, but stick with direct overhead work for big powerful shoulders.

BFG

I always do them too and haven’t experienced any shoulder pain. I only go down to a 90 angle and I’m all good. If I try to go all the way down that’s when my rotator cuff starts giving me grief. I try to stay away from doing shoulders right now though because they slow me down and tire me out at kickboxing.

[quote]Original_Demon wrote:
ConorM wrote:
I read one of the coaches over at Elitefts talking about how bad overhead pressing movements can be for the shoulders, and how they can lead to injury. Recently I noticed some shoulder problems, right about the time I started doing heavier, low rep work with overhead presses. WHat are your thought on this and any idea what alternative compund exercises there are for devloping great shoulder strength whilst avoiding overhead pressing?

From my experience, and the experience of countless ppl I’ve had the privelage of talking to about military presses and the like, you will eventually fuck up your shoulders.

If I were you, I would stand clear of overhead presses. If you must venture there, try a variation using “Arnold Presses”. Much easier on the shoulders and works the delts well.

If you’re looking to build your traps, just stick with shrugs.

Take care of your shoulders!!! Once you fuck them up… there’s no going back. They’ll never be the same man.
[/quote]

Not true.

I have fucked up my shoulders several times when I was younger mainly from doing too much chest work.

I suspect most shoulder injuries stem from a lack of rotator cuff work or overuse of chest and direct shoulder work.

Do a search for Healhty Shoulders or something like that on this site and you will find a lot of info.

Everytime I have noticed that my shoulders start bothering me it’s because I haven’t been taking care of them due to a lack of rotator cuff work. It really does make a difference if you are like most people and place too much emphasis or your chest and shoulder work.

http://images.t-nation.com/forum_images/./1/.1111805306324.DickButkusB&W.tif.tif

In my experience, I found that overhead pressing ,if done with good form,builds strength in the upper body and puts loads of muscle on the traps and delts. I believe that overhead pressing movements should be performed standing in order to involve the entire body in the lift and to limit the amount of weight one starts out with. Olympic style lifts, especially the hang snatch and hang clean and press, not only build the delts and traps but also quickly develop the strength in all of the stabilizing muscles involved.
I personally rehabilitated my beat up old war horse shoulders by adopting a more wholistic approach to overhead presses and lifting in general. The main lifts in my workouts now start with whole body lifts and compound movements usually using a 10 x 3 approach. I then use the 4 x 6 or 3 x 8 approach for the other lifts in the same workout which are about half compound movements and half isolation movements. Over the last 6 months not only has the pain in my shoulders disappeared by about 80% but I have put on noticeable size throughout my entire musculature.
It seems to me that too many isolation movements and too many lifts being performed seated instead of standing strains the joints, tendons, and ligaments. While it is true that you cannot use as much weight while standing as opposed to sitting, the act of standing and lifting quickly builds up your stabilizing muscles and you can add weight to your lifts in a much safer fashion. This would also limit your exposure to injuring your shoulders through overloading the support system.

I use DBs in a neutral grip and go all the way down.

I used to use a barbell and alternate to my chest or to the back of my neck, but I could feel the tension in my joints, so switched to DBs instead. Now I have no problems.

I’m personally not a fan of unilateral movements for hypertrophy. For strength and speed they’re great though.

Some quotes from him.

Coach X - Just read one of your responses from yesterday and it sounds like you’re against overhead pressing. Can you tell me why? Thanks. Good luck with the rookies today.

" Dude, I just answered that question today. Check the other posts. In short, if you desire to have battle wounds/scars from surgery, then by all means go ahead and perform that movement. I have said it before and i’ll say it again—overhead pressing is an open invitation to impingement(which if you train you are going to get it) and other future problems. I speak from experience and countless trips to the cadaver labs, AND millions of conversations with sports medicine physicians! Plus Boy Wonder and Mike Hope(2 of the sharpest and brightest minds i have ever been around), advise me not to do it. When people like that speak, i listen, even if my ego gets hurt and i feel stupid! The more i learn the more i realize what i DON’T know!(too bad some strength coaches can’t admit that). "

X and 62,
You guys made few comments regarding the shoulder, overhead pressing and orthopedically sound programs. Could you expound on that for the specific case of the shoulder?

" Dude, How many times have you been to a cadaver lab? Yesterday was my 10th time(at least). Why? Because number 1 I desire knowledge and number 2 it is one thing to prescribe an exercise it is totally another thing to understand how it affects the body and how the body executes that said movement. The other day was the best dissection of the shoulder i have ever witnessed. There exsists VERY little room for error in that complex and as a strength coach i need to do a cost/benefit analysis of every exercise i choose. I know overhead pressing is the greatest activator of the entire cuff BUT it is also the most stressful and greatest irratant to the shoulder itself! I was barely able to get my pinky finger into the groove where the suparspinatus passes through! Overhead movements jam the head of the humerus right up into the acromin and is an open invitation to cuff problems(irratation), bursitis, impingement(of which i have had surgery for already and am in the process of having additional surgery on that shoulder from wear and tear) and a host of other shoulder issues. Knowing all this why would i have my athletes press overhead and put them in a compromised position? There are a thousand other ways to strengthen that area without the risks of trouble. Also note we are not overhead athletes. I am convinced that only dumbass strength coaches ask their athletes to do so cause they don’t know any better. How many strength coaches do you know that take the time to visit or find a way to expand their knowledge by doing what we did the other day? I’ll answer for you, NOT MANY!!! Also you should take the time to speak with your team orthopod, they are a wealth of knowledge and at some point in time you better understand the surgeries your athletes will undergo, cause you are the one who has to modify their program! Trouble is too many strength coaches don’t take the time either because they are winning and believe they are GODS or they are just plain lazy and don’t wish to increase their knowlegde!Ask a strength coach sometime to indentify or know the three types of impingement and see how many can answer. "

So I was wondering if there was many guys with a lot of scientific knowledge to post their thoughts on this. I am considering lowering the amount of overhead pressing as my shoulder has got sore recently, what do you think?

[quote]ConorM wrote:
I read one of the coaches over at Elitefts talking about how bad overhead pressing movements can be for the shoulders, and how they can lead to injury. Recently I noticed some shoulder problems, right about the time I started doing heavier, low rep work with overhead presses. WHat are your thought on this and any idea what alternative compund exercises there are for devloping great shoulder strength whilst avoiding overhead pressing?[/quote]

Homo Sapiens have been lifting things over their heads for thousands of years. I call that a “natural movement.” Now bench pressing, that’s another matter…

The short answer to your question: I would try dumbbells as they free your hand spacing and postion in order to best suit what feels best for you.

use a sandbag!

[quote]ZEB wrote:
I call that a “natural movement.” Now bench pressing, that’s another matter…

The short answer to your question: I would try dumbbells as they free your hand spacing and postion in order to best suit what feels best for you.[/quote]

ZEB, you don’t like bench pressing???

(j/k)

I think it’s just a little bit ridiculous for guys like Coach X and 62 to advocate bench pressing, which in practice has to be THE single biggest cause of poor upper body posture and shoulder problems, and then shit all over overhead pressing. I don’t care who they are or if they work for Elite, they completely dodge the question of overall program design and volume of pushing vs. pulling exercises in all planes of movement.

I’m also not impressed with him constantly dropping the cadaver lab stuff… A dead body isn’t moving dude, and just because you’re seeing something doesn’t mean you truly understand how it works.

Any time someone is railing against an exercise like this it’s usually because they have an inherent bias and are missing some other underlying issue that has more to do with overall balance than any one specific exercise.

Oh yeah and squats ruin your knees.

If I get bored I’ll take a look at the Supertraining archive and see if Mel Siff ever took on overhead pressing. He was a great one for cutting through bullshit in arguments like this.

Nick

[quote]Joe Weider wrote:
ZEB wrote:
I call that a “natural movement.” Now bench pressing, that’s another matter…

The short answer to your question: I would try dumbbells as they free your hand spacing and postion in order to best suit what feels best for you.

ZEB, you don’t like bench pressing???

(j/k)[/quote]

Unless you are built properly (shorter arms barrel chest) for the bench press you will eventually have shoulder problems. It’s just a matter of time! Doesn’t mean you can’t bench. I think if you do bench and you fall into the category of long arms and shallow chest it might be smart to cycle your routine.

Thanks for your replies, I am going to read up on this subject a little more. Gonna stick with the DB for all overhead movements for a little while at least.

I dunno, I overhead press several times a day. Putting things on shelves, moving things around etc. Granted at 5’8 I’m kinda short and probably have a lot more things taller than me than some of you other guys. But to say overhead pressing will cause impingement, think about the last time you lifted something over your head?

Mine still feel fine. I’ll shade off behind the neck presses though.

Dude, slam the rear delts!!! I foobarred my left shoulder 5 years ago, and just within the past year I started really taking care of my rear delts (I do three different exercises for them every shoulder workout) and now everything is amazing… plus they make my back look huge!

I’ll also join the crowd that says OH pressing with DBs is great. If you want to use a barbell, don’t use a wide grip. I use a clean grip and my shoulders feel just fine. And none of that behind the neck crap.

What exercises does Coach X favor instead of pressing,as he states that there are better ways to strengthen the shoulder girdle superiorly? thanks…

OK here’s my say. Although I like overhead presses and think some can do them, I think that 1/2 range (lower half) shoulder presses preferably with dumbells are a safer and more effective deltoid builder, and that hang snatches are a better subscapular builder (also combining external rotation exercises). High incline closegrip benches are a good third exercise.

I don’t think the shoulder is built for the second half of the military press with heavy loads (that is, with a fairly close grip (somewhere inside the rings)).