Well built shoulders are round, give you that hourglass body shape and they are the first thing that stand out. They are the booty of the upper body and overhead pressing is the best way to build them.
Overhead pressing is one of the most important exercises to build your upper body, it is one of our most natural body movements. Below we have listed the most effective variations of the exercise.
Related: Arm Workout
The Standing Overhead Press
The main movers in this exercise is the shoulders and triceps but doing it standing includes the whole body as you have to stabilize the body to be able to press it in a controlled movement. The exercise can be done both with a barbell and dumbells.
How to Perform with Barbell:
- Stand with your feet at about hip width
- Grab the bar just outside shoulder width and place the bar just over or on the top of your chest with your forearms completely vertical from the floor to the bar.
- Stabilize your whole body by tightening your abs and squeezing your glutes
- Start pressing straight up with as much force as you can without using any leg drive and extend your arms until you have completely locked the bar out over your head.
- Lower the weight on the same path at a controlled speed
- Repeat for 5 to 10 reps as this exercise is suited for generating power and a exercise you should place in the beginning of your workout.
Related: 30 Day Kettlebell Challenge
How to Perform with Dumbbells
- The same stance as with a barbell so about hip width, you can try bringing them a bit in or out if you want better balance
- Grab the dumbells and clean or curl them up to the shoulders and place them so your hands are at the height of your ears
- Do the same as above and brace the abs and squeeze the glutes
- Start pressing the dumbbells straight up with your elbows on the outside of your shoulders until they touch on the top of the lift
- Lower the weights with a controlled speed until you reach the starting position with your hands at ear height
- Repeat. As this exercise is more demanding on coordination and balance we recommend to do a little higher reps than with the barbell so 8 to 15 reps are ideal.
Seated Overhead Pressing
The seated variations can be done with both barbells and dumbbells. Doing the lifts seated takes the rest of the body out the equation as you don’t have to stand under the weight. These variations are more suited for focusing on building just the shoulders.
How to do the Seated Barbell Press
- Take a workout bench and put the back on a very steep incline one or 2 holes from straight up.
- Grab the barbell from the rack at just wider than shoulder width with your hands pointing away from you or clean it up if you don’t have a rack and sit down with your back against the bench with the bar resting on the top of your chest or shoulders.
- Stabilize your upper back by squeezing your shoulder blades together, pretend that you have a pen between your shoulder blades that you want to squeeze to stick there during the whole exercise.
- Start pressing straight up until your arm are completely straight
- Lower the weight slowly and under control to keep the tension on the shoulders for a longer time.
- Repeat, here you can go both high or low reps. If you do the exercise early in the workout go a little heavier and if later a little lighter and higher reps.
Related: Pull-ups and Pull-downs
How to do the Seated Dumbbell Press
Here the setup is exactly the same except your elbows should be more on the outside of the shoulders and the dumbbells should be at about ear height in the low position of the lift. Never have the dumbbells touching the shoulders during the repetitions with dumbbells as that challenges the smaller shoulder muscles and keeps the muscle under tension for longer which will increase growth.
The Barbell Push Press
The push press is a more advanced lift and is perfect after you have built up some strength on the normal presses. This lift also incorporates the whole body more and builds full body explosiveness. It is a great lift for athletes who want to increase jumping power. The lift is like a standing barbell press but you use leg drive to press more weight. This exercise is suited for the barbell and we don’t recommend doing these with dumbbells as this is about pushing as much weight as you can to get the most out of this lift.
How to do the Barbell Push Press
- Grab the bar just outside shoulder width and stand with your feet at about hip width, place the bar resting on your shoulders.
- Brace your abs and squeeze your shoulder blades to get your body stable.
- Squat down about a fourth of a normal squat and jump upwards with your legs as hard as you can without actually leaving the floor with your feet. When the bar leaves your shoulders start pressing like a normal overhead press until you get to the top position with the arms locked out.
- Keep the top position for a second before starting the lowering of the bar. As usual lower the bar the same way you pressed it up in a controlled motion back down to resting on your shoulders.
Try these overhead pressing exercises to build your shoulders and take the booty of the upper body to the next level!