Anyone who really understands what they’re doing in the gym will know that form and technique is far more important than the amount of weight you lift. If your body is in the wrong position when attempting a lift, and the weight is too heavy, you’re looking at a one-way trip to injury town.
One of the easiest ways to prevent injury, yet still complete a solid workout, is to lift lighter weights – which we’ve previously discussed can indeed still allow you to make gains – however, you may also need to work on your mobility.
Mobility can often be confused with flexibility, we’ve covered the difference between the two, here.
One such move that requires you to have good mobility is the overhead shoulder press. The overhead press can be an incredibly effective exercise for adding size and strength to your shoulders but is also one that isn’t as simple as it looks. This is because, if you perform a standing overhead press, for example, it’s not just your shoulders that are involved.
As Coach Mag says, “Your abs, your lower back and the muscles surrounding your shoulder blades are all involved in pressing the weight overhead, and if you progress to a standing version of the exercise your glutes, hamstrings and quads are also enlisted to add stability.”
Essentially, there are plenty of muscles that could be injured if you perform it wrong. Fortunately, Drew McDuffie, strength coach for the Duke University Football team in North Carolina, USA, has some savvy variations of the overhead press you can perform that will offer a pain-free workout.
As Drew says in the caption of his video, which he recently posted to Instagram: “Getting overhead pain-free can be one of the most irritating endeavours due to shoulder mobility issues or b/c how easy it is to compensate through low back extension.” Indeed, it can be all too easy for your back to curve inwards when performing the overhead press, for example, which won’t make you as stable.
We won’t discuss every single exercise variation Drew demonstrates with the Duke Football team here, but essentially, they all serve to improve your shoulder mobility by either removing the weight entirely (such as using TRX bands and just your bodyweight); seeing you have a more solid base from which to push upwards from (such as rolling the barbell against a wall for stability) and strengthening other muscle groups in your body.
You may not feel like a true gym bro performing these variations, instead of just trying to press as much weight as you can over your head, but if you get them nailed down to perfection, you’ll be able to safely lift heavier loads in no time.