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Fitness And More Here's how to nail the perfect overhead press

Believe it or not, there was a time way back in the early 1900s, when the overhead press was the measure of the lifter.

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Barbell overhead press play

Barbell overhead press


The bench press is thought to be the king of upper-body strength exercises but that hasn’t always been the case.

Believe it or not, there was a time way back in the early 1900s, when the overhead press was the measure of the lifter.

According to Mark Rippetoe, a legendary strength coach, “The day the barbell was invented, the guy who invented it figured out a way to pick it up and shove it over his head. After all, it is the logical thing to do with a barbell.”
There are about 15 variations after to the overhead press; military or push press, barbell or dumbbell, seated or standing...and that's just for starters.

The bottom line is that a press is a press. As long as you're moving weight in a straight line from your chest or shoulders to overhead, you're doing some kind of pressing.

Now it's time to perfect them all, and we will be with you all the way.

From a standing position, take a weight from the chest to an overhead position, finishing the move by fully extending the arms and locking out the elbows.

The exercise itself serves up big-time benefits besides big muscles.

Perfecting the press can serve us well for athletic endeavors like throwing a ball or shoving an opponent in football.

The overhead press is also helpful for building symmetry in the upper body, both in aesthetics and muscle balance.

It helps develop a strong, stable core and strengthen shoulders and because we’re working from the standing position this beneficial move recruits several muscles and moves about a bunch of joints at once, making the standing overhead press a compound, total-body movement.

The standing overhead barbell press is where we’ll begin our path to press perfection.

1. Grip the barbell with palms slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Wrap the thumbs around the bar and over the fingers. Be sure to position the bar in the heel of the palm.

2. Pull yourself toward the bar so that it’s resting on your clavicle. This position will take some getting used to, but as long as you’re not actually choking yourself, you’ll be okay. If you're starting with a racked barbell, remove it from the rack and take two steps backward.

One last pre-press pointer: Make sure your elbows are pointing down and your forearms are vertical.

3. Now we’re standing nice and tall, feet shoulder-width apart, chest up. Shoulders back and down. Core tight. Barbell at the clavicle. Elbows down, forearms vertical. Fix your eyes forward, take a deep breath in, and exhale as you drive the barbell over your head.

Sidenote: The bar should remain in a straight line as it travels upward. To avoid hitting yourself in the chin with the bar, rather than moving the bar around your face and disturbing its path of travel, just pull your head ever so slightly backward (moving the bar forward will cause the lifter to overextend the back to complete the lift), but only briefly enough for the bar to pass your face.

Once it's over the head, move your head back under the bar to help maintain stability and a neutral spine and prevent the back from hyperextending.

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