T Nation

Standing vs. Seated Shoulder Press


I've never really been into this exercise. There seems to be a lot of fans of it on this site. What is the advantage of it over seated? It seems to me you can not do as much weight since you have to use more balance. I understand why people do push presses for example because you can handle more weight while cheating a bit with your legs. Educate me.


There are at least two differences:

1) Standing presses never have the feature of having the back supported while the upper body reclines somewhat. That feature can greatly boost the weight that can be lifted while not necessarily meaning any greater if even as much of what I would call real strength. It can disguise functional weakness that prevents a good lift without that support. Not that such weakness must exist, but it can exist and not be revealed if this is the only style of pressing used.

Of course seated presses can be done with the upper body vertical and no back support, in which case this difference is eliminated. However it seems this is not so often done as is the slightly reclined, back-supported style.

2) Standing presses can be done either with leg movement assisting the lift, or not, as you note. Seated presses must be done without leg assistance. The inability to employ leg drive can be either an advantage or a disadvantage according to the situation.

I don't believe balance is a limitation to a person with reasonable skill in standing presses.


The standing shoulder press is far more beneficial than a sitting one.

Whilst standing, your body is able to activate the stabilizer muscles in your back as your arms extend upward.

The use of the back support while doing a seated shoulder press can lead to faulty recruitment patterns in the muscle groups.

If you do plan to use the seated shoulder press I'd advise that you do so without the back support.

Also, the use of the legs in a standing shoulder press is not cheating. It utilizes the entire body and helps develop explosiveness.


Seated is better


Do you do any sports?


Depends on what your goals are. I'll take a very wild guess and say bodybuilding, which you're probably looking to isolate the shoulder, which is easier seated because there's less to balance. I train for "function" and performance, so I ONLY do standing.


Standing is better.

The weights is driven from the floor instead of the bench which means that everything in between is being used to stabilize. Basically, you will use a lot of core strength in the standing position that is not used in the seated version. Mark Rippetoe talks about this a lot in his books. Pick up a copy of starting strength for more info. My abs get sore when I do heavy standing presses. Plus its the more hardcore badass version since you get to clean the weight to the shoulders from the floor at every set. Don't you want to be hardcore?


Why not just do both? Or switch them out.

Seated I feel it more in the shoulders, while standing I like doing because I feel it stressed more musculature. I do standing first, then seated.

Both exercises use leg drive--just in different ways. If you think you don't get leg drive with seated dumbbell presses, try doing them with your feet up next time. It's like benching with your feet up. Of course, the leg drive referred to with standing presses usually implies the slight push press many do to use heavier weights.

I tried seated dumbbell presses on a different vertical bench than I'm used to (bench much lower to the ground for some reason, very awkward) and I couldn't even use last week's weights.

So yeah... as you can see from all these posts, it's probably beneficial to just do both.


Elano, don't you clean the dummbells from the floor when you are doing seated dummbell presses? I find that harder and a lot more awkward than cleaning the barbell. And why do you always seem to post right before me, oh fellow Georgian?

Oh and on another note, the book elano suggests has some good info on proper form and elbow positioning while doing standing presses. I could never really feel standing overhead presses in my shoulders (more stress placed on triceps) until I read the book and corrected my form. My weights also increased upon doing so.




I only do barbell press however if you are doing dumbell press, it would probably be best to do them seated. It is pretty damn awkward cleaning them from the floor IMO. That's why I rest them on my thighs first. I think I just beat you to the post half the time my Georgian man LOL.


I just need to know this am I the only person whose abs don't get sore doing anything but ab exercises?


Outside of starting weighted chin-ups after a brief break, I'm with you.

Then again (as far as this thread is concerned), I do shoulder exercises to work...my shoulders...so I'm not too worried about it.


because your abs are legit..

too legit to quit, to be precise.

oh and i prefer seated.


I do standing, seated crunches my lower back.


try them sitting on the floor with your legs at a 90 degree angle...almost impossible to cheat...or sitting on an exercise ball (easier on the lower back as the ball gives it some cushion)


I prefer seated because I can use more weight.


elano wrote:
Seated is better

Lowery38595 wrote:
Standing is better.

Ha ha ha... am i the only one who read these with Adam Sandler voice from Billy Madison in the bathtub?

Shampoo is better..

Anyway... thanks everyone. It makes sense to me now. I will definitely work these into my routine at some point. I don't think I ever did them consistently as part of a program. So if nothing else, its a new excercise for shoulders for my body to adapt to. As far as the questions for me go, I do care about function. Don't care about explosiveness. I'm 32 and not active in sports.


[quote]DJS wrote:
elano wrote:
Seated is better

Lowery38595 wrote:
Standing is better.

Ha ha ha... am i the only one who read these with Adam Sandler voice from Billy Madison in the bathtub?

Shampoo is better..


Ha nice pickup, and now you mention it the Gatorade and H2O battle in the waterboy

water sucks, it really really sucks
(to be sung of course) lol


A chiropractor told me that standing is better than seated because seated puts a heavy load on the lower back..whereas standing you have the stability from your feet and legs. Not saying that is true, just what he told me.

I think pound for pound a standing lift probably delivers more bang for the buck in terms of cns activation and core development.

I never see anyone doing the lift in the pic anymore though..anyone here do that one? I believe it's called a bent press.